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Is the Era of Wall Street "Humility" Officially Over?

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Time was Wall Street bankers wanted us to believe they were just like us. Modesty and humility were in; entitlement was out.

That was when? Last year? Last month?

Today the New York Times is reporting that some Wall Street firms are discussing a move to protect their employees' salaries should Congress not extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the highest earners next year.

The companies -- most notably Goldman Sachs, the firm that sets the bar for bonus season -- are said to be considering a plan to give out bonuses this month instead of in January.

According to the Times, "a typical worker who earns a $1 million bonus would pay $40,000 to $50,000 more in taxes next year than this year, depending on base salary."

One source quoted in the story says that he doesn't think paying out early would be the smartest strategy.

“This has been a topic of conversation among those of us who are involved in designing and administrating compensation plans,” said Brian Foley, a pay consultant in White Plains, N.Y. “But I really would be surprised if anyone went down this path. This is a bounce-back year in terms of bonuses going up and probably not the time to draw attention to yourself.”

That may be true, but the real question is, does Wall Street even need to worry about perception anymore?

For the record, the top five Wall Street firms have marked nearly $90 billion for total pay this year. That figure is expected to rise with year-end earnings.

All signs point to 2010 being a windfall year -- one of the best ever -- for big bank employees.

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.