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November 16, 2010

DiNapoli: Wall Street Profits Could Top $19 Billion in 2010

Earnings Down from Record High, But Street on Course for Fourth Best Year Ever

Wall Street rebounded quickly from record losses in 2007 and 2008 and is on pace to earn $19 billion in 2010, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. While the pace of job losses has slowed, the industry is still downsizing as it adjusts to new regulatory and economic conditions. DiNapoli’s report notes that while last year’s record $61.4 billion profits are not likely to be repeated anytime soon, New York’s securities industry is still likely to record its fourth best year ever.

“Wall Street is adjusting to regulatory reforms and learning how to do business in the new financial reality,” DiNapoli said. “These actions may trim profits and cash bonuses in the near term, but they are necessary in order to encourage long-term stability and profitability. As long as other international financial centers play by similar rules, Wall Street should retain its leadership position.

“New York needs Wall Street to do well, but the securities industry is still losing jobs. The state can’t rely on a full recovery of Wall Street to resolve its budget shortfall.”

DiNapoli’s report noted that the first quarter of 2010 was among the most profitable on record ($10.3 billion), but second quarter profits were more in line with pre-crisis levels, falling to $3.8 billion. Wall Street lost a record $54 billion during 2007 and 2008, but with the help of federal bailouts the industry quickly returned to profitability. In 2009, Wall Street earned $61.4 billion—nearly three times more than in 2006.

While Wall Street’s bonus pool may decline from last year’s level, DiNapoli’s report estimates that the average cash bonus may be larger because the pool will be shared among fewer workers.  DiNapoli will release his report on Wall Street bonuses early next year.

The report also found that:

  • While 2010 profits could be 69 percent below last year’s extraordinary record, this year’s profits could be the fourth highest in absolute dollars and the sixth best year (in at least 30 years) on an inflation-adjusted basis;
  • Wages paid to securities industry employees who work in New York City declined by 28.5 percent in 2009, the largest decline in at least 30 years. The decline reflects job losses but also a sharp drop in bonuses that were paid at the beginning of the calendar year for work performed in 2008, which registered record losses. The decline in wages paid to the securities industry accounted for nearly two thirds of the wages lost in all of New York City in 2009;
  • Nearly one in six jobs lost in New York City during the recession were in the securities industry. Job losses could reach 38,000 jobs if the industry contracts by 20 percent as it did during the past two downturns. Securities firms are likely to continue restructuring as they adapt to the new federal and international regulatory environment;
  • The average wage in the securities industry in New York City fell by a record 20.5 percent in 2009 to $311,330—still 4.9 times higher than the average in the rest of the private sector ($63,650);
  • The Office of the State Comptroller estimated that cash bonuses paid to security industry employees located in New York City for work performed in 2009 grew by 17 percent to $20.3 billion, following a 47 percent decline in 2008;
  • Wall Street’s share of city tax revenues fell from 13 percent before the financial crisis to about 7 percent in city fiscal year 2010. Wall Street’s share of state tax revenues fell from 20 percent before the financial crisis to nearly 15 percent in State fiscal year 2009-2010;
  • Household wealth in the nation fell from $65.8 trillion before the recession to $48.8 trillion in the first quarter of 2009. It has since grown to $53.5 trillion in the second quarter of 2010;
  • The national delinquency rate for residential mortgages exceeded 11 percent in the first half of 2010, compared with 2 percent before the recession, and;
  • Consumers are paying down debt and saving more as they repair their personal finances. The national savings rate rose to about 6 percent of disposable income in the spring of 2010—triple the rate in the summer of 2007.

Click here to read the full report,


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