Matt Taibbi was incredulous when he read a recent New York piece in which Wall Street denizens whined that Dodd-Frank was limiting their bonuses. "I watch what I spend," one banker lamented, "but my girlfriend likes to eat good food," which adds up fast. "Quelle horreur!" Taibbi quips in Rolling Stone, before shredding the argument. Actually, bank compensation is falling because of the European debt crisis. Bankers he knows are saying things like, "If the ECB doesn't come up with a Greek bailout package, I'm going to have to sell my children for dog food." And at some banks (like Goldman Sachs), bonuses are actually up relative to earnings.
But even if bonuses were down, "it would be good news," Taibbi argues. These companies are "functionally insolvent in reality and dependent upon a combination of corrupt accounting and cheap cash from the Fed to survive." Bankers got rich on fraud and gambling, wrecked the economy, and yet suffered the least in the crash. "They're lucky that God himself didn't come down to Earth at bonus time … and command those Zagat-reading girlfriends of theirs to get acquainted with the McDonald's value meal lineup." Read the full column here.