Major financial firms have bounced back from the brink of meltdown and are on course to hand out their biggest-ever pay packages this year. The total payout at the big banks and securities firms will hit $140 billion this year, according to Wall Street Journal projections based on revenue figures at 23 companies. That's up 20% from last year, and is a full $10 billion more than was paid out in 2007.
Payouts might fall below projections at firms feeling public and political pressure over inflated bonuses, the Journal notes. But now that they've regained their confidence, most firms insist that high pay is necessary to hang on to their top talent. "The easiest way to destroy the firm would be if we didn't pay our people," said a Goldman Sachs spokesman. "Destroying a profitable enterprise would not be in anybody's interest."