America’s three key investment banks have now reported their third-quarter results. Beyond the revenues, earnings, provisions and the like, analysts are combing financial statements for details on bankers’ compensation; lower pay is seen as an important sign of cost control and, equally important, contrition in the face of public scorn.

As a percentage of net revenues, compensation ranged from 39% at JPMorgan to 43% at Goldman Sachs in the first nine months of the year. The year-on-year decline at Morgan Stanley was especially large, dropping from 60% last year to 42% so far this year. Absolute pay has fallen at all three banks, with a particularly steep 21% drop at Goldman Sachs. In terms of the average pay per employee at Goldman, the decline is an even more severe 30%. Still, few would consider an average wage of more than US$370,000 for nine months’ work a sign of major sacrifice.

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