Obama softens stance on Wall Street bonuses

U.S. President Barack Obama has praised the bosses of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan as “very savvy” and insisted he does not “begrudge” them their success and wealth, in a significant softening of the White House’s attitude towards multimillion-dollar Wall Street bonuses.

Once a staunch critic of outsized pay packets, Mr. Obama adopted a strikingly consensual tone when asked this week about a $9-million bonus awarded to Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein and a $17-million payday granted to JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon.

“I know both those guys, they are very savvy businessmen,” Mr. Obama said in a interview with Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek magazine. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.” And he praised the fact that Goldman and JP Morgan were using long-term share awards, rather than cash, to pay bonuses to their senior executives.

Although the White House denied any changed in direction on the issue of bonuses, Mr. Obama’s comments were far less strident than his past condemnations of rewards on Wall Street. Shortly after taking office last year, he described bonus payouts by banks as “the height of irresponsibility”. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 4:23:04 PM |

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