Last year's bonuses officially colossal

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If you were unhappy about your bonus last year, you'll be even more unhappy about your bonus this year. An analysis of the Office for National Statistics figures by the Telegraph suggests banks' 2007 payouts were a record 12.6bn in the City, up 500m on 2006.

The Telegraph's calculations are in line with the figures at Morgan Stanley, for example, which hiked 2007 compensation and benefits costs by 20% last year to keep up with Goldman Sachs.

This is slightly at odds with the CEBR's analysis (see graph, top left), which suggests 2006 was the record year and that bankers were marginally worse off in 2007.

Anyone who expects their payout for 2008 to rival last year's rivals the Treasury for delusional forecasting. The CEBR predicts London bonuses will be down 40% in 2008. Based on Q1 allocations, banks' own figures suggest a 15-30% drop is likely.

The head of comp and bens at one bulge-bracket firm in the City says it's still early days but a 30% drop looks reasonable. Given 2007's massive payouts, he points out this isn't earth shatteringly catastrophic: "2006 and 2007 bonuses were extremely high. This isn't a big deal."

Who vests first?

Separately, the FT had an interesting article last week looking at which US banks allow senior staff to cash in the soonest.

In first place was JPMorgan, which pays 30-35% of top-level bonuses in stock, half of which vest after two years with the remainder vesting in the third.

Senior Morgan Stanley bankers receive as much as 70% of their bonus in stock, vesting after two years.

Goldman partners get 60%, vesting after three years.

Citi vests after four years.

Worst of all seems to be Lehman, whose stock vests after five years, according to the Economist. However, we think this may have been shortened recently.

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