Wall Street Workers Reap Gains in Bonuses

With the stock market booming, two new studies suggest that people working on Wall Street will be seeing big bonuses this year. Asian and European firms are expected to be even more generous.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Our business news today starts with Wall Street bonuses.

With the stock market booming, this promises to be a lucrative year for people who work on Wall Street. Two studies released yesterday found financial firms are planning to bestow big bonuses, and Asian and European firms are going to be even more generous.

NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI: The fat years are back on Wall Street. And if you had any doubt about that, consider a report from the compensation consulting firm Johnson and Associates. It estimates that the financial services industry plans to award bonuses that are 10 to 15 percent higher than last year. Investment bankers and traders will get some of the biggest awards.

The Options Group, an executive search firm, estimates that worldwide bonuses will be 15 to 20 percent higher than they were last year. Eric Moskowitz is a director at the firm.

Mr. ERIC MOSKOWITZ (Director, The Options Group): Last year we were about equivalent to the 2000 technology-led boom of bonuses, and in 2006, and we're really going to hit all-time highs across the board in a number of categories and in a number of firms.

ZARROLI: Bonuses are awarded between December and February. They typically make up the majority of the take-home pay of people who work in the financial markets, and they can reach into the seven and eight figures for top players. As well as Wall Street firms are doing, overseas companies are doing even better. Moskowitz says bonuses will be especially high in Europe, which has seen a boom in hedge funds and in mergers and acquisitions, and they'll be even higher in Asia. With a rebound in the Japanese economy, Asian financial markets are doing especially well.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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