GILDED AGE

2008: Year of the Bonus

The economy is in a state of collapse, your banking firm is teetering towards bankruptcy, and Congress if rushing to bail out your industry—what do you do? Take home a fat bonus, apparently: a new report by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo shows house thousands of traders and bankers raked in huge bonuses in 2008 even at the height of the economic meltdown their companies helped cause. According to the report, nine firms bailed out by the government paid about 5,000 traders and bankers over $1 million each in bonuses for the year. Goldman Sachs alone awarded more than $1 million to 953 workers. The party may come to an end soon as Congress is considering a bill that would empower bank regulators to restrict "inappropriate or imprudently risky" pay packages at banks.