The securities industry raked in a massive pretax profits fortune of $27.6 billion for the first six months of 2020 — nearly eclipsing 2019’s profit total of $28.1 billion.
That’s an eye-popping 82 percent increase compared to the same six-month period last year, according to a new report released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
DiNapoli tied the gold rush to a frenzy of factors: the $2.4 trillion federal stimulus package, interest rates cut to zero and reduced borrowing costs — plus frenetic trading patterns posing a massive disruption to the financial markets.
“An injection of federal stimulus money, plummeting interest rates and rising volume in trading drove profits dramatically upward to a level hard to imagine in March,” explained DiNapoli.
“Wall Street’s successful first half helps our state and city budgets because the securities industry provides an outsized source of revenue, but the rising profits on Wall Street are disconnected from the pain being felt on Main Street.”
Happy days on Wall Street help government coffers.
The securities and trading industry accounted for 18 percent — or $15.1 billion — of all state tax collections last year and 6 percent of the city’s tax collections.
But the industry is slated to lose around 7,300 jobs this year. Last year the securities industry employed 181,200 people — the highest levels since the 2008 recession.
Average salary for security industry employees in 2019 totaled $406,854 — almost five times the average private-sector salary, pegged at $82,938. The pay gap between Wall Street workers and those at other private firms has more than doubled in recent decades, DiNapoli said.
Industry performance is measured by the pretax profits of the broker/dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms. There are now about 120 member firms, down from more than 200 before the 2008 fiscal crisis.
The Wall Street profits come as lefty activists complain that billionaires are profiting off the pandemic while many other New Yorkers are mired in financial misery. Many liberal activists are calling for higher taxes on the wealthy to avoid cuts in services to the needy during the recession triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sixty percent of all Wall Street employees were white, 22 percent Asian, 9 percent Hispanic and 7 percent African American, according to 2019 figures.
Commuters from outside New York City accounted for 41 percent of the wages paid by the securities industry in New York City, with many coming from New Jersey and the surrounding New York suburbs.
“Our economy, and Main Street’s businesses and workers, are badly in need of additional support, including action in Washington on a new round of stimulus and relief. Wall Street’s growth can only be sustained if there is broad economic recovery,” DiNapoli said, adding 2020 profits are on track to grow even more “barring any further unforeseen events.”