Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan posted far better than expected earnings reports this week. These reports, combined with better-than-expected profits posted by Bank of America ($2.42 billion) and General Electric ($2.9 billion), come as foreclosure rates and unemployment continue to rise.
Is it the first signs of an improving economy or yet another indication of the way the country is divided into haves and have nots?
Only months after taking billions of dollars in government bailout money, banks are back to profitability and big salaries, CBS News correspondent Priya David reported on "The Early Show" Friday. Goldman Sachs posted a blockbuster $3.4 billion quarterly profit, and J.P. Morgan posted $2.7 billion.
Chief economist of Standard and Poor's David Wyss, said, "People don't understand why we gave these guys money, and now they're making record profits."
To Gregory Acs, a senior fellow at Urban Institute,it's a sign the nation is on a path to economic recovery.
"As the economy starts to grow again," he said, "growth tends to happen at the top."
Only a month after Goldman Sachs paid back $10 billion in TARP money, it celebrated with a record $11.4 billion in compensation and benefits for the first half of the year. Each Goldman employee received an average $386,429. That's almost five and a half times more than the $70,354 annual income for the average American household of four.
"People are really upset," Wyss said.
Unemployment is still climbing. It's expected to top 10 percent this year, triggering what is expected to be the highest rate of foreclosures since the Great Depression - four percent of all homeowners carrying a mortgage.
Nora Lyons, of Yonkers, N.Y., is not taking home a Wall Street bonus.
In fact, Lyons was told she was going to be laid off more than a month ago. And while Lyons' husband is currently working, he was unemployed for six months.
Reading about the Wall Street profits is a chilly reminder of a nation of haves and have nots.
Lyons said, "I think certain people or groups find ways to make a whole lot of money in times like this, while the ordinary folks just have to try and bear through it."
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