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Wall Street Struggles With Executive Pay

But last year marked a turning point in the Wall Street pay saga: Nearly all of the big bailout cases had returned their government money and were able to make compensation decisions on their own. Their pay packages are being closely watched as an indication of whether big banks are installing proper risk-management and incentive strategies.

So far, it's hard to find a common theme.

Citi's board boosted CEO Vikram Pandit's base salary to $1.75 million last year from $1 the previous year, as the firm returned to profitability. Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) left CEO Brian Moynihan's base salary unchanged for 2010 and shifted much of his bonus into stock, as its stock price lagged and the company lost billions of dollars. The head of its investment bank, Thomas Montag, got a much higher salary than Moynihan, but much of it was also weighted in restricted stock. Additionally, the firm is reportedly offering traders a much higher percentage of their salaries in cash than competing firms.

It's yet to be seen whether the lucrative packages lead BofA to become a better trading enterprise. The best trading performance during the fourth quarter actually came from JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report), which deftly navigated tough conditions in the credit markets. But during 2010, the average pay per person at declined at JPMorgan, because the firm hired more people and the bonus pool shrank.

It's not clear what CEO Jamie Dimon will receive, since the firm hasn't reported the information yet in a regulatory filing. Neither has Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report), which doesn't have a large presence in Wall Street trading activities.

On the other hand, Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) CEO Lloyd Blankfein got a big salary and bonus bump despite the firm's profit decline. Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report) CEO James Gorman is reportedly getting a cut in pay and lowering traders' compensation, despite the company's better performance in 2010 as it moves forward on a restructuring plan.

-- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Lauren Tara LaCapra.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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