Page last updated at 21:57 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Obama slams Wall Street bonuses

Obama calls for bankers to act responsibly

President Barack Obama says that multi-billion dollar bonuses taken by Wall Street bankers are "shameful" while taxpayers bail out their industry.

The president said their actions "were the height of irresponsibility".

He said his administration would tell bankers they needed to show some discipline and restraint.

Mr Obama was responding to reports that employees at financial companies in New York collected an estimated $18.4bn (12.9bn) in bonuses last year.

"It is shameful, and part of what we are going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility," he added.

"The American people understand that we have got a big hole we have got to dig ourselves out of but they don't like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole."

Earlier this week, US bank Citigroup cancelled an order for a new corporate jet after President Obama questioned the wisdom of the purchase.

The White House asked whether buying the jet was the "best use of money at this point" for a bank that took $45bn (31.6bn) of public money last autumn.

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