They may be about to rise once again - the law of unintended consequences ?
Who needs a big bonus if you have a massive base salary ?
Reuters reports negotiations to introduce a cap on bankers' bonuses in the European Union stalled on Tuesday, after EU countries and the bloc's parliament clashed over how far to go in curbing pay for the industry's top earners.
The talks, described as tense by one person present, with some in the room "doing a lot of yelling", resume next week.
Although a cap on bonuses still appears likely, it is unclear whether the limit will be set at the level of a banker's annual salary as early indications suggested, or higher.
Some argue that switching the focus to basic pay could perversely encourage more risk-taking, as bankers' earnings would be less dependent on performance and could not be clawed back if things go sour.
'All you're going to do is convert bonus to fixed salary', said one senior banker, who declined to be named. 'You can't stop that'.
And The Daily Telegraph says that Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, said in a statement: 'These are worrying discussions because a move away from variable to fixed pay is in complete contrast to what we’re trying to achieve, to ensure that pay properly reflects performance.
'This would take the power to hold companies to account out of investors’ hands, by removing tools such as voting on pay policy and implementation, and on board selection. Such a move would fly in the face of financial stability, by removing companies’ ability to quickly respond to a downturn by adjusting pay'.