Slump? What Slump? Corporate Profits and Exec Pay Are Up!

Last Updated Jul 6, 2011 8:39 AM EDT

Corporate profits and executive pay are on the rise, so happy days must be here again! Meanwhile, back in reality, these numbers mean even less chance that the feds will act to help the rest of the economy.

Businesses are eagerly looking forward to second-quarter earnings, due out later this month. An analysis of Wall Street forecasts by Brown Brothers Harriman indicates that combined earnings will push the S&P 500 index up 13.6 percent over a year ago. All the while top executives at 200 big U.S. companies have seen their pay checks increase by 23 percent over what they were in 2009.

On the other hand, nearly every non-Dow related measure shows the nation is still in horrible shape two years after the official end of the recession. Since 2009, the following measures have seen either the worst or nearly the worst numbers since the government started tracking them following World War II:
  • Employment growth
  • Lending
  • Economic output
  • Income growth
  • Home prices
  • Consumer expectations for financial well-being
It is increasingly difficult to pretend that the economic policies of the nation are designed to do anything other than keep Wall Street happy. From the Fed ruling in favor of credit card companies to Congress increasing self-regulation of traders to the defense of tax subsidies for our struggling oil industry to letting banks play games with their book, the legislative and executive branches seem determined to keep the Dow as high as an elephant's eye -- no matter what the cost.

The only discordant note the government has played on this tune is the inability to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, which is being held up over cuts in services for Main Street.

The only thing which may change this is if voter discontent grows so much that the pols have to take note. So far there is little sign of that. Where Europeans have taken to the street in protest over these issues, Americans have done little beyond a spasm of anger during the last elections. That brought in even more big business appeasers, and people from Florida to Wisconsin are now filled with some serious voters' regret.

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  • Constantine von Hoffman On Twitter»

    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald, TheStreet.com, CSO, and Boston Magazine.

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