Merrill Lynch's Bonuses Are Bull

By ANDREW GREINER
|  Wednesday, Mar 4, 2009  |  Updated 8:30 AM CDT
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Blame Them For Your Empty Wallet

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Merrill Lynch execs took in more than half a billion dollars in payouts that looked a lot like bonuses, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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As if Americans need any new reasons to be angry at the fat cats at the root of our current economic calamity, here are at least half a billion more. 

Eleven top executives at Merrill Lynch received more than $10 million in cash and stock last year, and 149 others received $3 million or more in compensation, The Wall Street Journal reports today. The payouts were most likely bonuses because Merrill’s executive salaries generally range from $200,000 to $750,000, according to the Journal.  
 
This news comes on the heels of Merrill Lynch reporting a gigantic loss for 2008---$28 billion to be exact. For that performance, Merrill's 10-highest paid employees earned a total of $209 million in cash and bonuses -- that's more than the 2007 compensation.
 
The Journal crunched the numbers with people familiar with the company's finances, and their analysis puts the total amount of cash and stocks paid out to Merrill execs at $557 million or probably more. Merrill’s highest paid investment banker, Andrea Orcel, received $33.8 million in cash and stocks, the Journal reported.
 
The one feel-good element in this story is the fact that the stock payouts have lost a significant portion of their value as the market has tanked.
 
Don’t expect that to bring any sympathy to the execs during New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s investigation into Merrill’s bonuses and disclosures about them.

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