ALBANY -– Bonuses paid to the New York City securities industry, an important source of annual tax revenue for the state government, dropped 8 percent last year, state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reported this afternoon.
But the state’s fiscal watchdog sought to put a positive spin on the numbers, noting that total Wall Street profits totaled $27.6 billion last year -– the second-largest on record. And he said overall compensation for Wall Street workers grew 6 percent last year.
The annual report by the comptroller projects the Wall Street bonus pool last year totaled $20.8 billion –- off about one-third just two years earlier. But DiNapoli said part of the drop-off is the result of regulatory changes that have pushed compensation packages to rely less on annual bonuses and more on things like deferred salaries and stock options.
Such a move, DiNapoli said, is good for New York’s state budget, which has been the beneficiary and victim over the years of the roller coaster ride by Wall Street bonuses.
Activity on Wall Street accounts for about 13 percent of the state’s revenues –- down from about 20 percent before the recession hit, the comptroller said.
"A more stable and less volatile securities industry is in the best interests of Wall Street, the city and the state," DiNapoli said in a statement.
In an interview this afternoon on CNBC, DiNapoli acknowledged the overall bonus pool number "may look like a negative."
But, he said, "Wall Street continues to be on the rebound, and that’s good news."
Wall Street apparently wasn’t glued to the television interview: soon after DiNapoli’s appearance, the Dow was down nearly 100 points during a second straight day of financial jitters over the exploding Middle East.
Here's DiNapoli's interview:
-- Tom Precious