Michael Lewis, author of one of the defining books about Wall Street excess, "Liar's Poker," told 60 Minutes that bonuses at banks bailed out by the government are akin to "a very elegant form of theft."
[The big banks] have access to a zero percent loan in virtually unlimited quantities from the Federal Reserve. You can take that money and reinvest it in Treasury bonds or government agency securities and you will get the spread and you could do it over and over. You're essentially borrowing from the government ... and taking a cut.
Really what's going on is the people on the top of the firm want to make a lot of money and if they're going to make a lot of money, they have got to pay the people under them a lot of money,