Unseemly? Ungracious? Untimely?
Stunning profits from any financial institution in the US would ordinarily be marvelous, spiffingly wondrous news. In the midst of a US induced GFC, it's mega-excellent news.
Really it is.
Goldman Sachs took billions of US tax dollars, sacked around 6000 employees, paid back the tax dollars only a month ago, and are now set to celebrate their recent sterling performance by making confetti from one hundred dollar notes and dry-showering each other on Mondays and Fridays.
Then they'll get down to the serious business of rewarding themselves with seven figure bonuses, possibly bigger and better than the bonuses they'd been accustomed to during the years of milk and honey.
Only a few days ago the Bank of America Merrill Lynch also declared the recession over.
It's done. Just like that. Easy peazy.
Substance always means a great deal more to my uncreative brain than perception, and in the case of Goldman Sachs making the biggest quarterly profit in its 140 year history - yes, that's right, in the last quarter they made more profit than in any other quarter during the last 140 years - one can't turn one's nose up at the substance of the achievement, but on the perception front, one does turn one's nose up at the moral legitimacy of rewarding the remaining Goldman Sachs employees with gobsmacking bonuses for three months worth of startling performance.
Didn't a few thousand people have to lose their jobs to contribute to that profit?
Didn't the US government have to pony up $10 billion to keep Goldman Sachs chugging along?
Didn't they also receive even more billions from the US government (non refundable) via the bailout of AIG insurance?
Plus a competitive advantage from the Asset Relief Program, which allows them to issue debt cheaply?
Still, Goldman Sachs feel they possess the moral authority, based on three months worth of staggering profits, to have already earmarked $11.4 billion for bonuses, with that figure likely to grow before the end of the US financial reporting year.
Yes, it would seem that some segments of the US financial industry have come roaring back, and nothing has changed. Not a thing. Business as usual, as if the last two years were nothing but an aberration.
Sure, the PR might get a little sticky come bonus time, but that's a storyline the captains of industry are used to running around the block until we're all giddy. No biggie.
With big profit, Goldman sees big payday ahead
So much hand-wringing over the perils of the existence of businesses that are "too big to fail", yet here it is: the fallout from the US financial crisis appears to be leaving a mere two banks gloating and profiteering over all the rest.
Along with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan has announced salivating profits for the last quarter, this, despite having been pretty useless at excelling during the boom times. More irony.
The banks are now in full throttle vigorous lobbying mode to put the kibosh on tighter derivatives regulations and consumer protections. Big surprise.
The other market distorting trend is that the top 20 US banks, having received $125 billion from the government in prop-up cash in the midst of the GFC, promptly reduced their inclination to give loans by 16% ($120 billion - almost a match for the funding they received).
The next top 20 banks only reduced their lendings by 4%, or $9 billion.
Meanwhile, all the other little banks combined increased lending during the same period, facing the same market conditions, by 5%.
So, the big banks have learnt something: don't lend money! Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.
Two giants emerge from Wall Street ruins