Former Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs chief Henry Paulson is the latest critic of Wall Street pay packages, which he now says are "out of whack."
In an interview with CNBC about his new book, "On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System", Paulson, who as Treasury Secretary in the fall of 2008 spearheaded a massive bailout of the country's financial institutions, said he has long believed that bankers' pay is out of balance.
"What I say in the book is that when I ran with Goldman Sachs, even during benign times, I had felt the compensation in the industry seemed out of whack, and I would occasionally go off in partners meetings and say something to the effect, 'I hope you guys all understand,' and remind them, 'people don't like you. Very few people do,'" Paulson told CNBC."
Barely a year after the government injected hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into the financial system in an apparently successful effort to forestall its collapse, Wall Street firms are posting massive profits and paying out record bonuses. (Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, it was reported today, may receive a $100 million 2009 bonus.) The contrast between bankers' pay and the more than 15 million Americans unable to find work is severe, and Paulson says he understands the public's frustration:
"When the government did what it did and saved the entire financial system ... these paychecks just seem so out of whack and out of tune with what's going on with the public," he added.
Watch the full interview below: