Morning Report: Investment Banks Back Off Big Bonuses

The latest compensation figures from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase show the big banks will pay out less in 2009 than analysts had expected. Bloomberg reports that the amount set aside for pay, $39.9 billion, is almost $10 billion less than analysts predicted in October. The banks are facing intense pressure from Washington to reduce their payouts. President Obama has called the bonuses "obscene."

Goldman Sachs recently announced that it's scaling back its plans for bonuses and handing over $500 million to charities. According to a report today from Bloomberg, the bank is set to cap the salary and bonuses of its London partners at $1.6 million, a decision that will affect 100 employees. We'll have more details about the bonuses in coming weeks, but they are still expected to be a great deal larger than what bankers received last year.

Meantime, General Motors is expected to announce that its interim CEO Ed Whitacre Jr. will permanently take over the position. Whitacre is the former CEO of AT&T Inc. He started working at GM as its chairman in June and reportedly played a major role in the ouster of former chief executive Fritz Henderson and former CFO Ray Young.

The White House is working overtime to ensure Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a second term. The WSJ (subs req'd) reports that "the president himself, as well as Mr. Geithner, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House economic coordinator Lawrence Summers, made phone calls to key senators over the weekend" encouraging them to support Bernanke's confirmation. Bernanke needs 60 votes in the Senate, as of late Sunday, 31 senators said they would support him with 17 opposed according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey. Mr. Bernanke's term is set to expire on Jan. 31.

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