America’s financial sector has blown a hole in the economy so large that it will take many years to repair. The formal unemployment rate is above 10 percent and underemployment is an astonishing 17.5 percent. Yet last week, Bloomberg News calculated that the top three bailed-out Wall Street firms are on track to pay $30 billion in bonuses to their top officers this year and the Wall Street Journal estimated that the bonus pool for the financial sector as a whole is $140 billion.
Taxpayers have done their share. They have put trillions of dollars at risk in an effort to stabilize the financial system and have gotten little in return. Too many banks are not lending to small businesses, they are not helping American families facing foreclosure, but they are raising credit card and other bank fees at a rapid clip.
While many have been starkly critical of bank performance, yesterday criticism came from a new source, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.