Empire Center for
  Public Policy


Manhattan Institute
  for Policy Research

Fiscal Watch Memos

Payroll Watch Archive


Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications when there are new posts




March 12, 2014

Profits down but bonuses up on Wall Street

E.J. McMahon

Is Wall Street roaring back — as a revenue-generating force for New York’s insatiable state and city governments, that is?  You might get that impression from glancing at today’s press release from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, which headlines the finding that the average bonus for securities industry employees in New York “grew by 15 percent to $164,530 in 2013, which is the largest average bonus since the 2008 financial crisis, and the third highest on record.”

But as the release also makes clear, the spike in bonuses paid came during a year when the profits of securities firms actually dropped by 30 percent, to $16.7 billion from $23.9 billion. DiNapoli’s release calls last year’s profit total “still high by historical standards” — but that doesn’t adjust for inflation or market capitalization. (In straight nominal terms, 2013 profits don’t look far off the average for the late 1990s.)


Filed under: Economy, Wall Street

February 26, 2013

Counting the goose’s golden eggs

E.J. McMahon

The Wall Street bonus pool for 2012 expanded by 8 percent, but remains well below the peak levels of a few years ago, according to a release today by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Wall Street bonuses and the state’s personal income tax receipts are tightly correlated, as shown below.


Filed under: Uncategorized, Wall Street

October 11, 2012

Our goose is cooked

E.J. McMahon

Wall Street, the goose that laid golden eggs for New York’s public sector for more than 25 years before the Great Recession, is “still working through the fallout from the financial crisis,” as Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reported earlier this week.  The problem, as the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas writes in the Post today, is that “both the state and city governments, which depend on Wall Street to pay the bills, are still partying like it’s 2007.”

“Unless they sober up soon,” she adds, “they’re in transition to nowhere.


Filed under: Economy, Uncategorized, Wall Street

October 2, 2012

No Wall Street bailout (of New York) this year

Nicole Gelinas

The latest mergers & acquisitions figures are out, and they’re not pretty.

According to mergermarket, an M&A data watcher, the year’s global slowdown is not only continuing but accelerating. New York can hang on to a thread of good news only in that its rate of decline is not accelerating. (more…)

September 25, 2012

The Fed’s escape from NY (someday)

Nicole Gelinas

The national housing crisis is over.***

New York should worry.


May 11, 2012

Dimon in the rough

Nicole Gelinas

The fact that markets are flat after la crise JPMorgan Chase came to light — and that JPM stock is down only 7.3 percent as of this writing — shouldn’t be a comfort to anyone.

The takeaway isn’t that the financial and economic worlds are more robust than they were four years ago and better able to handle such shocks.

Nor does this massive and purportedly unexpected loss prove that the Obama financial regulations are working. Taking that angle, a few people are saying that the mess points up the need for Dodd-Frank’s Volcker rule, which would ban proprietary trading by banks.

(Under this line or reasoning, the problem with the Volcker Rule is only that regulators haven’t implemented it yet — banks may have until 2014 to comply — and that the rule may contain too many exceptions.)

What the calm markets prove is that people and companies have gotten used to the fact that the global financial system remains utterly broken. It’s priced in, as they say. (more…)

April 20, 2012

Dodd-Frank’s frenemies

Nicole Gelinas

Wendy Long, a lawyer who is trying to oust fellow lawyer Kirsten Gillibrand from the Senate, has a piece in the WSJ today with a compelling headline: “Financial Regulation is Hurting New York.”

True enough. But the 70 percent of the details that Long gets wrong eclipse the 30 percent that she gets right. A more fitting story might be “Pols Who Don’t Understand the Financial Crisis are Hurting New York.” (more…)

November 7, 2011

Wail Street

Nicole Gelinas

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma) held its annual meeting today. Speakers’ outlooks on the financial industry bode poorly for New York’s economy.

“I think we will see a lot more cost cutting,” said Toos Daruvala, director of banking and securities for McKinsey. “I think we are in this for a few years yet.” But, he added, “you cant cut your way to greatness. It’s not possible.” (more…)

October 11, 2011

State comptroller: mind the Wall Street budget gap

Nicole Gelinas

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli has a new report on Wall Street out, and it isn’t pretty.

One piece of information shows just how New York — City and State — grew dangerously dependent on an ever-growing Wall Street over the past three decades.

In 1981, before Wall Street took off relative to the rest of the national economy, each securities-industry job in New York City paid twice as much as the city’s average private-sector job outside of finance.

Last year, each securities job paid five point five times the average private-sector job. (more…)

Filed under: Wall Street

Millionaire tax myths

E.J. McMahon

In response to the Occupy Wall Street protest, a pair of Democratic state lawmakers from New York City is repeating some flagrantly inaccurate data about taxes in New York State. In an essay at Huffington Post, Senator Daniel Squadron of Brooklyn and Assemblyman Rory Lancman of Queens support a permanent extension of the so-called millionaire tax. Their version of the “fairness” argument:

For decades, the Republican Party has pursued a long-term strategy to undermine government’s ability to protect workers and the environment by shifting its costs to those who can least afford it: From 1977 through 1997, New York’s top income tax rate was repeatedly cut to the point where married couples in New York making $40,000 a year paid the same income tax rate as someone making $10 million a year, and families making $55,000 a year paid a 22% higher share of their income in combined state and local taxes than did families making over $3 million a year.

"Republican" anti-tax zealots

"Republican" anti-tax zealots

Wrong.  Wrong.  And wrong.

In fact:

1. Most of the reduction of New York’s top marginal income tax rate between 1977 and 1997 was enacted under Democratic governors.  Gov. Hugh Carey dropped the top rate from 15.35 percent to 10 percent, and Gov. Mario Cuomo signed legislation taking it down to 7 percent, before changing his mind and freezing at 7.875 percent.  These cuts were supported by solid majorities of Democrats in both houses of the state Legislature, including one-sided Democratic majorities in the state Assembly.  Republican Gov. George Pataki was a tax-cutting piker by comparison. His 1995 tax reform cut the top rate by barely a percentage point, generating marginal savings of 13 percent for the wealthiest New Yorkers, while expanding other tax benefits to generate an average cut of 25 percent for middle-income families. As for “shifting its costs to those who can least afford it,” Squadron and Lancman have it backwards.  It was the lone Republican out of New York’s last six governors who spearheaded a massive expansion of the Earned Income Credit (EIC). As a result, over a million of low-income workers pay little or no income tax at all but get an annual EIC check from Albany, with the largest amounts reserved for those who earn the least and have the largest families to support. (more…)

Filed under: Taxes, Uncategorized, Wall Street
Older Posts »



Empire Center for Public Policy
P.O. Box 7113 - Albany, New York 12224
phone: 518-434-3100