When New York State's comptroller reported that this year's bonuses on Wall Street may top last year's, the outcry was predictable—just as it was in response to reports that this year's bonuses would be less than last year's. (Which is it? Both! The size of the bonus pool may be smaller, but since fewer people work on Wall Street, the average bonus may be bigger.) Either way, it doesn't matter. Whatever their size, bonuses on Wall Street are not popular. The public has no say in how Wall Street firms decide to pay their bonuses, of course, even when those firms have been rescued by the federal government—it's part of what makes the public so angry. But Wall Street, like Washington, can't completely ignore public opinion. The size of this year's bonuses, besides showing how profitable Wall Street is, will also show in part how much Wall Street cares what the public thinks.
The state comptroller will issue his report on Wall Street's 2010 bonuses early next year. How will this year's average Wall Street bonus compare to last year's?