Taxpayer Bailout Blues: Goldman Sachs CEO World’s Highest Paid Banker

With the due date here for annual IRS filings, American taxpayers were given an insult to add to their injury. Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), has become the world’s best-compensated banker. Between a $2 million salary, over $13 million in restricted shares and a healthy $5.7 million bonus, Blankfein will reel in $21 million for his 2012 performance.

While Blankfein often gets in the news for his outspoken nature, Goldman’s board was clearly enamored with the chief executives’ efforts on behalf of the TARP-fueled bank, which received a bailout of $10 billion in 2008. Blankfein, who received $12 million in compensation in 2011, notched a 75 percent raise. Goldman President and COO Gary Cohn received $19 million in 2012, as did CFO David Viniar.

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Second and third place on the Goldman compensation chain nearly equals the highest executive pay at every other bank. In comparison, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) CEO John Stumpf was awarded $19.3 million for 2012. Behind the jumps in compensation for Goldman are impressive profit reports. Goldman brought in a $7.5 billion profit in 2012, which doubled the bank’s number for 2011. The chief executives of the world’s other biggest banks made considerably less in 2012.

JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon received $11.5 million for his 2012 performance, significantly lower than three executives at his company. Dimon’s handling of the London Whale fiasco clearly weighed on the board’s calculation of his share. Meanwhile, Citigroup (NYSE:C) paid its chief executive $11.5 million, matching the Dimon figure. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) also paid CEO Brian Moynihan on this scale, at $12 million.

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Public perception of Goldman has improved little in the years following the bailout, when negative articles about the company flooded the Internet and cable news coverage. Yet the performance of Goldman speaks volumes about the stewardship of Blankfein, as well as the other top executives at the company. Goldman, which is the country’s fifth-largest bank by assets, had revenues in excess of $34 billion in 2012. While the Goldman board noted in its SEC filing that no specific goals were used to calculate executive compensation, the pay was meant to reward both performance and position within the company.

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