“It is shameful.” In a rare show of anger, US president Barack Obama chided Wall Street bankers on Thursday for giving themselves billions of dollars in bonuses while the government was bailing out their firms with taxpayers’ money.
He was reacting to a New York Times report that financial companies in New York paid bonuses amounting to $18.4 billion for 2008, the sixth-largest payout on record.
“All of us are going to have responsibilities to get this economy moving again,” Obama said, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at his side. “And part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some sense of responsibility...There will be time to make profits, and time to get bonuses — now is not that time. And that’s a message I intend to send directly to them, I expect Secretary Geithner to send to them.”
More evidence is emerging that the US economy is sinking deeper into recession.
Government figures released on Friday showed in the fourth quarter the economy shrank at its fastest pace — 3.8 per cent — in more than a quarter of a century as consumers and business cut spending.
The wave of job cuts continued, with 13,000 announced on Thursday by companies such as Eastman Kodak, AstraZeneca and Cessna.