Obama softens stance on Wall Street bonuses
US president says leading bankers are 'very savvy' and says having wealth is 'part of the free-market system'
(Guardian) -- by Andrew Clark --
President Barack Obama has praised the bosses of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan as "very savvy" and insisted he does not "begrudge" them their success and wealth, in a significant softening of the White House's attitude towards multimillion-dollar Wall Street bonuses.
Once a staunch critic of outsized pay packets, Obama adopted a strikingly consensual tone when asked this week about a $9m (£5.8m) bonus awarded to Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein and a $17m (£11m) payday granted to JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon.
"I know both those guys, they are very savvy businessmen," Obama said in a interview with Bloomberg's BusinessWeek magazine. "I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system."...
Although the White House denied any changed in direction on the issue of bonuses, Obama's comments were far less strident than his past condemnations of rewards on Wall Street. Shortly after taking office last year, he described bonus payouts by banks as "the height of irresponsibility" and said it was "shameful" that banks were paying "lavish" compensation in the middle of an economic crisis...MORE...LINK