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February 26, 2010
Banks grapple with big losses but still award huge bonuses

An RBS branch in England. Photo: ITN

In the U.K., the Royal Bank of Scotland has become the leading symbol of the country’s banking crisis.

RBS announced more big losses this week yet still found room to award its employees almost $2.5 billion in bonuses. That has sparked a good deal of outrage.

The bank’s rationale for the bonuses is similar to what many U.S. banks have said to justify big payouts.

Are the bailed-out U.S. and U.K. banks irresponsible for paying such big bonuses while still holding such a tight squeeze on credit?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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Comments

61 comments

#61

Did not the President of a company called Enron gets his bonuses Texas style. Maybe the same thing should happen to banks who give out hugh bonuses a few hangings here, a few hangings there.

#60

Well at least the British banking system is reporting losses. The American banks conspired with the Federal Accounting Standards Boards and the Obama Administration so that the losses from defaulted housing loans would not be listed as losses. That change in accounting practices is the only reason that the American banks are making profits. They are lying about their losses. The banks in the US are paying hugh bonuses, taking huge losses, and starving the economy of the loans need to revive it. Not only are the US banks irresponsible but they are engaged what was just a few short years ago criminal financial reporting practices by not subtracting loan defaults from the balance sheets.
Bonuses or not the banks should be held accountable and the flow of credit should be restored. They are beyoud being irresponsible, they are criminal.

#59

The United States “Federal Reserve,and Central Bank Act” of 1913 has destroyed America,period! Since America’s, “Revolutionary War (1775-1783)” faught against the mighty Btitish (if not for the heroic’s of Ben Franklin having risked his life getting the US Funding from France while posing as a double-agent with the bloody British as to support our troops,and quietly so as not to start a war in Europe)their eternal nemesis I might say without hesitation,… has always been out too undermine(they believe we belong to them to this day) the United States! The “War of 1812” when the British envaded again the newly formed fledgling Republic of America,…and ironically lose again,…but establish unfortunately the “First United States Bank” (Note: the name was chosen as a disguse,outwitting US Citizens via “20-year Chartered Central Bank” privately owned,and supervised by English Foreigner’s?)independent of the US Tresury. President Jackson killed the Charter (several attempted assasinations on his life,but no bullet would kill this “Tough-Guy”) when it came up for renewal. Their wasn’t any talk of establishing a new “Central Bank” until it was mentioned a month or so, before the “Civil(1861-1865) War” came to it’s close in which President Lincoln was adamantly opposed to,reasons being,… paying down the “Post War Debt,and Clean-Up”,…he was assasinated days before the War ended in 1865! The “Central Bank” got their brand-new Charter shortly after,and it wasn’t until 1913 that the “Central Bank/Federal Reserve” got it’s permanent status as the offical banking system of America (note: the US gets involved in World War 1,even though we weren’t necessarily wanted in the first place,…but the British requested our help?)under President Wilson (1913-21)that we know today. Unfortunately in the early 60’s President Kennedy wanted to dispose of the “Federal Reserve/Central Banking System”,…and was too introduce legislation for it’s demise a month before he was assainated in Dallas in 1963! Since then ,the “Federal Reserve/Central Banking System” has had complete control of our monetary system with the power to cripple our country,…bringing us into war,causing depressions/recessions,and completely able to rule unmolested with an “Iron-Fist” our commercial industry, and innovation from a foreign land in total secrecy(absolutely no transparency as to who the puppeteer’s our?)which in my eye’s is an abomination,…for Shame! Here is my final point,…China will never allow a “Federal Reserve/Central Banking Systen” into their country to control their destiny now that they’ve seen/witnessed the empirical causational-ruin from the United States failures with this arcane, barbaric,primitive system,brought on by the mighty “Knights of England”,that will destroy us while owning us simultaneously! Thanks Worldfocus

#58

The whole world cries in horror, and the banks simply laugh it off, and the politicians shrug their shoulders.

#57

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the capitalist system. Might is always right if you can get away with it. The banks have deluded the people because the latter would do the same given the same opportunity. (Why do people loot during natural disasters even in more developed countries?) As someone who was recycled through three workforce reductions in three years in the early 80s and is now facing the same event just prior to retirement I must confess that the Darwinian principles have visibly proven their correctness. Of course, this is one situation where the losers will not cheer the winners since it was never a sport.

#56

As a side note when the Banks loan money for say home loans, unlike credit unions who loan members money, the money is supplied by the Federal Reserve by fiat dollars. The moment you sign you loan documents the fiat-dollars for you loan are created. The Fed pushes some button on their computers and transfers the “new” money to the bank who is loan the money. The Fed earns interest on money its creates out of thin air and you bank pay some small interest rate to the Fed. In truth, the banks loan you money that they create out of thin air. Which may be the reason why they are out of touch with the problems we face in the “real” world. Google Fiat Dollars if you want more info.

#55

Did Greenspan’s love for Ann Rynd lead us down this path? I thought America was the greatest at whatever it did. Tell me it isn’t so! The Chinese solution might be to shoot some of the bankers. Would that work here?

#54

The bank operators & the board of directors seem to be crass oportunists who are motivated by greed & out of touch with the common good. Rewarding the culprits whose poor judgement helped cause these gigantic problems seems totally elogical. Instead of bonuses they should be considering firing those employees.

#53

The banks get bailed out with taxpayer money, and then they give bonuses to the people who caused the mess. And bank executives don’t understand why taxpayers are outraged!

#52

The whole system stinks. Bankers or stealers? depends on how you look at it. They take your money and lend it at 12% interest then give you 0.9% interest. Kool ah, see why they can get big bonuses, then when they screw up the government bail them out with our money from which they get bonuses…. Wow, double or nothing. I’m in the wrong job. Ah going into banking.

#51

10 years ago I told a lady friend of mine who is in the banking business that it scared me that big banks were gobbling up smaller banks in that in a financial crisis could they handled that great of any defaults – we now know the answer – they cannot. When you add this to corruption on Wall Street and Politicians on the take – this is what you have. These banks are no irresponsible – they are corrupt and they are laughing in our faces. Some need to go to prison while others ought to be placed in front of a firing squad and finished off – period. Jim @ USA

#50

greedy fits the banks……..totally obscene ….

#49

My take on what is going with these banks regardless of where they are located is that they
are manic and steroids.

#48

Default credit swaps-this is the ingenuity of these ‘irreplacable’ bank backroom geniuses-their bonuses should be used to reverse engineer this huge con,which has desroyed the economy!

#47

Kerry M. is correct. The result will be an eventual real crash. Most likely sooner rather than later. “They” still refuse to learn (Polticians, government and big finance).

#46

I’m quite disgusted,with all due respect,with the Banks.Honestly,most of them I think get their excessive money by tricking customers like me.For example,Chase bank has an inaccurate automated system(at least in the past as seen in the news)which gives an fraudalent balance.Then when you spend it/pay bills, you get charged “insufficient funds fee’s”! This is why I have literally & illegally been tricked into paying hundreds of dollars to Chase Bank.Not only that, but if you are overdrawn .05/1./5. for example, they also charge you insufficient funds fee’s. There’s few chances of “a break”. This money they get is used to pay for these MAJOR DIRTY MONEY BONUSES. To me they’re BLOODSUCKERS as for example; I’m in financial poverty(not due to anything to do with me actually/long story)and this is the food off my table and the basic essential bills I can’t pay like clothing bills.I don’t have money for luxuries like the Chase Bank Executives who don’t care and are indifferent, with all due respect.I’m suffering because I have 2 learning disabilities and can’t legally fight their BIG lawyers! I know no one cares much about us in financial poverty, but these ARE one of the reasons we ARE living in poverty. This is how the impoverished are silenced. This is why I’m a Humanitarian, Civil Rights and Community Activist. MANY BANKS HAVE FUNDED SLAVERY & TRICKING CUSTOMERS IS JUST ANOTHER WAY BANKS LIKE CHASE KEEP US DOWN! THIS MADNESS HAS TO STOP. STOP GIVING OUT BANK BONUSES ON THE BACKS OF THE FINANCIALLY POOR LIKE ME IN ORDER TO “MOVE UP” IN THE BANKING WORLD. NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE FOR BANKS!!ALL BANKING VICTIMS LIKE ME NEED TO LEAVE THEIR BANKS FOR ANOTHER ONE LIKE TD BANK SO THEY CAN BE TREATED RIGHT!!

#45

I dislike the idea of greater regulation of anything. However, with the total disregard of common sense and the idiotic fear that the best traders and executives will go somewhere else, so they must pay bonuses is short sited and an insult to those of us who work just as hard for much, much less. The continued cost of greed and deception that we pay for is way past disgusting, its theft. Its time to finally regulate this industry, its power brokers, its lobbyists, its terrible influences on goverment and regulators and its practices.

#44

Labeling such outrageous bonuses as obscene, etc., is a good beginning to what should be a careful review of what needs to take place in the future:government oversight based on strict criteria with powerful legal repercussions for sluggish observance.

#43

It is a disgraceful indication of the extreme and immoral greed permeating the whole world today and the ordinary people suffer as usual

#42

These bonuses are ABSURD!!! The arguement that they are getting “industry standard” bonuses is only a testament to the absurdity in the entire industry…this is the single largest travesty being committed against the free world.

#41

Banks are no longer banks they are casinos. As sure as the sun shines, banks are only interested in themselves and citizens should stand up and complain.

#40

How can anyone receive a “bonus” when the company loses billions? This makes no sense.
We should reward success NOT failure. Our governments who lend to these “losers” should say NO!!!

#39

A bonus is generally accepted as an indicator of how well the company and more specifically the employees are doing. What RBS did was simultaneously own up to approx. US$3.6 Billion of loss due to bad business practices and decisions, to announcing that they were rewarding a losing year with bonuses equal to approx. 1/3 of their losses. Bizarre.

While I am sure that not all employees made the very bad business decisions, the fact of the matter is that bonuses are meant to be a reward for a good year. And how on earth can any banker come to the conclusion that such high losses are a good year?

#38

It is shocking that a bank posting losses would pay one penny in bonuses to any employee. That they do just demonstrates how little the power elite regard the rest of us: workers, investors, citizens, voters.

#37

The top management of banks and large Corporates have created a new self proclaimed dignitary class allocating to themselves incommensurable incomes and assumably justified by their capacity to manage companies to increase capital. As uncomfortable and unjustifiable this trend is, when companies had to be bailed out with the people’s money, the extravagant bonuses and salaries attributed to themselves and their pears become criminal acts, as criminality is not an exclusive law qualification but belong in this particular case to moral condemnation. If a government is not armed to condemn these acts or do not wish to denounce and sanction these criminal abuses, the people as the legitimate representatives of their society should take action and show their complete disapproval with legitimate actions.

#36

Irresponsible, why not call it what it is- unethical and fraudulent!! I see no difference between the US or any other country in this regard. There is no reason any individual should be rewarded that much money when the business is still operating with such selfish motives. First they loan out money to people that had no potential of paying it back- then cry to the government- they get their bail out- then they hoard the money and continue to increase their rates and lower the interest they pay us. It interesting that when the bank perceives the borrower as a potential risk they raise the loan fees and rates to “protect their investment”. We as depositors have our money in many banks that have folded, merged, been bought up for ten cents on the dollars, and also bailed out. It would seem that they are the poor risks and should be paying the depositors (us) much higher rates in proportion to the risk we are taking by having our money in the bank or brokerage. With that said, these bonuses should be put into a pool to allow for higher rates of return.
I won’t hear the argument that if they don’t pay them the bonuses the “talented people” will seek employment elsewhere. My basic response is ..so what. If the industry standard is no bonus then where do they go. There are plenty of hungry MBA’s with excellent potential- this whole system is corrupt!!

#35

I want to stand in front of my former bank’s armoured car like the famous unknown man in Tienamen Square. I fear the result will be a $10 service fee for shooting me in the head. The chicoms only charge 17 cents.

#34

Yes, these banks are irresponsible, insensitive, and almost arrogant in how they operate. I say take the banks out of the private sector of the economy.

#33

The quiet,and unasumming “British Invasion of Wall Street” via Lehman Brothers,…and its cunning,and seemless parallels for a stealthy takeover of America’s second-tier banking industry. Just think about all the newly proposed government regulation coming down the road regarding “Priority Trading”,…the “Rainmaker’s” for all the big Investment Houses! Now,…let’s look again at the similarities (liken to looking into a mirror) between “Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)”,and “American International Group (AIG)” as this sample survey dictates. AIG gets bailed-out by America’s “TARP” legislation (even though it wasn’t a bank?) paid for by American taxpayers ,and is on the dole for $170bn,…(and growing?) showed a $60bn loss Feb/2009,and had the audacity to hand-out $165ml in bonuses to keep their best people. Reason being,…the United States Gov’t has a better chance of recouping its losses with these (genius’s) financial wizard’s that got them where they are in the first place. Fast foward to Feb/2010, and AIG again comes up-short with a $9bn loss,but pays out bonus’s prior to posting the lost publicly,to the tune of $237ml of which,…”get this”,…they actually wanted to pay-out totally in the neighborhood of $475ml,but the “Almighty Pay-Czar Fienberg” said “NO”,now’s not a good time? What we have here is a feeding frenzy on the American public’s coffers,or better put, “Wallet’s”, predicated upon the thesis,…good management will get you your money back faster,and with dividends,..yea! Finally, as I write,.. AIG has asked Uncle Sam for more money in the mid-twenty billion dollars,…Nice! Let’s get back to RBC of Britain, and the English people being forced to pay-up as ransom,or better said extortion,…these financial idiot’s salaries for losing money under the same pretense as AIG,that being,…you’ll never get back your money if you fire the “Financial Wizard’s”! Finally,…I spoke about the “British Invasion”? Last year Barclays plc. bought the “Rainmaker Half” of “Lehman Brothers”,called Lehman Brothers N.A.,its entire “Trading/Brokerage House” for $1.75bn ,and has since completed the merger with Barclays Capital under the name “BarCap” run by Robert Diamond (no it’s not the same Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase,although their fierce competitors). Next,…we have the other half of Lehman Brothers (actually a very small portion was auctioned off to “Nummuro Holdings” in bankruptcy Sept.23,2009)Bank being bought by “Rothschild’s Group” for $10bn,…yes the same Rothschild family that own’s N.M. Rothschild & Sons,LTD in jolly ole England (Lehman Brothers was worth “Three-Quarters of a Trillion $$$ Dollars”,…three months before its demise) and was bought in whole by the British for a-wee-bit- less than $12bn,amazing,…simply amazing! Here’s my point. The English Landlord’s are going to stake a claim on a few more banking institutions that will go belly-up when the next shoe drop’s ,that entity,or culprit (choose your words well?) being “Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS’s)”,which starts re-adjustment in late 2010, and Citigroup,along with other lesser players in the top ten would be easy prey,(as for JPMC,BofA,GS,and Wells Fargo,…unfortunately they all have to much on their plate to object,or cry foul?). Thanks Wordfocus

#32

Of course they are irresponsible, arrogant and corrupt. As are most of the politicians in Washington. The U.S. has no business criticizing any other country for corruption. We’re writing the book on it. Disgusting!

#31

yes it was very irresponsible of them,we need real change.we should have let them fail

#30

I have already pulled my money out of commercial banks and put it into a local credit union bank. As for brokerage firms, does anyone know which one has not paid its executives bonuses?

What infuriates me to no end is the fact that no amount of complaining will change anything. In the U. S. complaining to our politicians has no effect because they are all influenced (bribed) by big corporations. I wish there were a legal road to take by the average citizen that would bring about real change.

#29

Banks are suppose to take your money,lend it to a third party make some interest then share those interest,not give all the profits to the ones who cause you to experience near total distruction.You have broken the trust of the public.

#28

Irresponsible is an understatement. We bail them out and they reward failure. They say they need to keep the bonuses to keep the best talent. They are talented alright. They are the best
professional thieves in the business. We should have let them fail.

#27

Banks are business and therefore have a three-fold responsibility: to their shareholders (owners), to their customers (clientèle) and to their employees (top to bottom). When they lose their sense of balance and make unreasonable demands or payouts, they need to be called to account publicly for their decisions and actions. Huge bonuses are in no one’s interest except to satisfy the greed of those in control who have begun to think of the funds are “their” money. When losses have accumulated and lending is cut back, NO bonuses are appropriate. Such bonuses should be repealed or repaid (with loan-rate interest) by stockholder and/or regulatory action. If these bonuses are accepted, the recipient should be held criminally responsible for violation of their fiduciary responsibility.

#26

This whole banking/insurance/stock market mess is based on greed and until these greedy SOB are prosecuted and put in jail for a very long time, this type of greed will never end. Unfortunately, our government is to corrupt to do anything about it.

#25

Yes, they are irresponsible, and it is shocking that they are allowed to get away with it. I will be pulling my money out of Bank of America ASAP and putting it into a community bank.

#24

Our government bailed out American banks with our money. Bank management then turned around and gave out BIG bonuses to the geniuses who got us into this mess in the first place, then in an ironic twist, laid-off thousands of American workers…outsourcing their jobs overseas.

#23

These huge bonuses are actually, of course, welfare money. Aren’t these executives embaarrassed? Heaven help a family of 4 trying to obtain welfare and really need this assistance. What are these executives buying with the welfare money that I provided them with?

The whole situation is disgusting.

#22

In the US, banks and other failed gamblers argued that bonuses were contractural obligations that must be paid. Since the profligate government rescued them BEFORE bankruptcy the contracts were not vitiated as they should have been.

#21

Banks too big to fail should be broken up. A bonus should be a reward for success, not failure. Any business that depends on a bailout to survive should not be permitted to pay any bonuses. The arrogance is incomprehensible. Many of individual bonuses paid this year exceed the lifetime income of an average person at the median income level. What service rendered could possibly be that valuable?

#20

These huge bonuses to executives are totally inappropriate at any time, but especially now in view of the financial downturn and the bail out of banks. It’s greed in the extreme! I have gone to credit unions and will not patronize banks that practice bonus packages such as B of A, etc.

#19

Governments should put a cap on compensation.
Anything else and they would find a way to get around it or keep it from happening.
These people are taking their ever increasing share of the worlds wealth and using it to increase their power over the masses.

#18

We should have let the banks fail then the bonuses would not have been an issue. No Bank no bonus.

#17

Irresponsible? Actually, I’m not blaming the banks. I’m blaming the system. It’s wrong if we think they care. I’m blaming the governments to give money, our money to banks & investment companies to “bail them out”, instead of bailing out people directly who are absolutely suffering. They are giving this huge bonuses to big shots as a reward for putting us in this horrible situation I assume! instead of taking them to criminal courts. This is the way it’s been, & it will be, & I definitely agree with nationalizing the banks.

#16

The fiat money system and the fractional banking system creates greed and more greed. I agree with Thomas Jefferson, when he said,” The Central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the principles and form of our Constitution. I am an enemy to all banks, discounting bills or notes for anything but coin (gold & silver). If the American people first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

George Washington also mentioned,” If ever again our nation stumbles upon unfunded paper (generic of Federal Reserve notes), it shall surely be the death to our body politic. This country will crash.”

This is happening just like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington predicted. Greed produces more greed. These big greedy banks should be broken up! Whats wrong with the thinking of America? It it,” The Blind leading the Blind?”

#15

I agree with Kerry’s analysis in comment 1, and the summation: “Bonuses of not the banks should be nationalized and the flow of credit should be restored. They are beyond being irresponsible, they are criminal. The huge bonuses are one form of theft from the public, and they are designed to further widen the already huge income disparity between the ultra-rich and the rest of us.

#14

The Banksters do not deserve one cent in bonus loot! The bailouts should have had many strings attached to protect the public interest. Better yet, the managers that got us into the current mess should have been forced to seek other employment.

#13

The question should not need to be asked: should a bank that has been losing so much money on irresponsible bets rather than reasonable investments be at the same time giving out bonuses of more than 1 billion pounds? This ought not be permissible and the government ought to have some way to tax or otherwise penalize the bank and those who receive such bonuses. Certainly, the recipients should be made public, since RBS is now essentially a public company.

#12

The government in the U.S. was at fault in providing taxpayer funds for the banks to carry on as the banks saw fit instead of implementing policies in the public interest through publicly owned banks!(i.e.,directing investment,loosening credit,relieving the distress of mortgage holders “under water”,etc.)

#11

The banks have committed a crime,by taking the tax payers dollars for a bail out that would have been justified;however the moment they start pocketing the money as so called bonuses it changed from bail out to “embezzlement”.

#10

Incredible as it may seem, #1 Kerry M. got it right. Our government seems to be willing to buy into any creative accounting scheme the banks come up with.

#9

Irresponsible ? That’s a euphamism for it !
They say they are forced to do this because of contracts, but that’s pure unadulterated GARBAGE. If they are failing then they can stop paying the bonuses, and saying otherwise ignores reality !
This is negligence and criminal and they are draining “their” capital into the pockets of a few who don’t really deserve much if any of it. This can lead to nothing short of nationalization of the financial distribution system, and that’s probably the punnishment that should occur here. If they can’t behave themselves then we should do away with private banks. It may be too bad, but that may be what we need to do.

#8

It is obvious that the fat cats that rake off the cream are completely out of touch with the common people. They live in their own privileged universe and are able to bribe their way through controversy. They care not a lick for the rest of us who struggle through. It is sad that the resurgence of the global Bourgeois over the last several decades is so similar to its beginnings about 200 years ago. they road the backs of the working class to influence and have successfully fended off any means of sharing the wealth of nations with its real builders ever since. it is ironic that they do so under the cloak of freedom and democracy. But they have so improved the Roman ploy of bread and circuses that the citizens do not seem to realize what has been going on. Their gift to the world is global warming which will bring our collective house down. maybe our descendants can do better.

#7

In an alleged “capitalist system” an entrepreneur is allowed to make a bundle of money if he makes the corect choices and investments.
But he is also allowed to “go belly-up’ if he makes the wrong choices.
The banks that lost should have been allows to fail.
There is no such thing as a company “too big to fail” These big conglomerates are made up of swallowed little companies. Let the bad investment go and the good ones will rise to the top and go in.

#6

Search Google for it Robert:
FASB Eases Fair-Value Rules Amid Lawmaker Pressure (Update5)

#5

Robert, here a link to a report on the issue. I hope you did not by bank issued common stock.
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=awSxPMGzDW38

#4

Robert, it is true.
“Wall Street celebrates accounting rule changes designed to hide losses
By Andre Damon
3 April 2009
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) voted Thursday to let US banks set their own prices for assets in earnings reports, regardless of current prices.
The move, which was heavily lobbied for by Wall Street, is expected to increase bank earnings by 20 percent in the next quarter. Richard Dietrich, an accounting professor at Ohio State University, told Bloomberg News that the decision would allow Citigroup to reduce its reported losses by 50 to 70 percent.”

#3

That is not true. The American Banks have been reporting losses, and have been working with both the state and Federal level to restore the credit/cash balance. The US banks must never be nationalized. You only do that in a military dicatorship. How dare you suggest such a thing.

#2

The whole system is corrupt beyond salvage. The only course is to exterminate the vermin, and design a new system to prevent big money manipulation with terminal penalties for those that try.

#1

Well at least the British banking system is reporting losses. The American banks conspired with the Federal Accounting Standards Boards and the Obama Administration so that the losses from defaulted housing loans would not be listed as losses. That change in accounting practices is the only reason that the American banks are making profits. They are lying about their losses. The banks in the US are paying hugh bonuses, taking huge losses, and starving the economy of the loans need to revive it. Not only are the US banks irresponsible but they are engaged what was just a few short years ago criminal financial reporting practices by not subtracting loan defaults from the balance sheets.
Bonuses or not the banks should be nationalized and the flow of credit should be restored. They are beyoud being irresponsible, they are criminal.

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