The Wall Street Journal published a front-page article Friday reporting that the nine biggest US banks, which have received a combined $125 billion in taxpayer funds as part of the $700 billion bailout authored by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and passed by the Democratic Congress, owed their executives more than $40 billion for recent years’ compensation and pensions as of the end of 2007.
This means that nearly a third of the public funds given to these banks will ultimately be used to increase the private fortunes of a handful of multimillionaire Wall Street executives.
This revelation, the result of an analysis of the banks’ corporate reports by the American financial elite’s own chief organ, provides a stark exposure of the social interests that are being served by the government bailout. More generally, it provides an instructive insight into class relations in America.
It has already been widely reported that the banks are refusing to use their government windfalls to resume lending to other banks, businesses and consumers—the ostensible purpose of the cash injections—and are, instead, hoarding the money for the purpose of acquiring smaller and weaker banks. The so-called economic rescue plan is, in fact, a plan to effect a rapid consolidation of the US banking system, resulting in the domination of the economy by a few mega-banks, which will be free to set interest rates and lending standards as they see fit.