Reuters reported yesterday that the annual bonuses among major American investment and commercial banks increased an average of 17 percent in 2009. Specifically, among JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley bonuses rose 31 percent. All told, employees of the banking industry in the U.S. raked in $20.3 billion, with the average bonus of $123,850. This increase is modest compared to the 2007 records set with bonuses, but still, you know, we're in a major recession, unemployment's at nearly 10 percent with another 20 percent underemployed, the money used to turn the record profit of $55 billion among major banks in 2009 (three times the previous record profit) was built using taxpayer money.

Here at HSW headquarters, we have the Captivate Network, a newsfeed broadcast on little televisions embedded in the elevators, since it's beyond imagination for humans not to be distracted at every possible moment of our lives. I actually made a New Year's resolution not to pay attention to the TVs, but that went the way of disco and this morning I read of a change in the government's stake in Citigroup. CNN Money reports that the Treasury converted its 8 percent holding in the form of Citigroup preferred stock into a 40 percent stake in the form of common stock. At the same time, the bank announced a $9.6 billion goodwill impairment charge. "What the heck's a goodwill impairment charge?" I asked another man in the elevator, figuring he was just some schlub like me. I'm a pretty friendly guy, on the order of Golden Retrievers, just making conversation.

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