Most people expect bonuses to be...up

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Forget layoffs, write-downs and diminishing profits, the average banker is confident of a nearly 9% increase in bonus compared to last year.

At least this is the finding of a survey by recruitment firm Joslin Rowe. Some 500 financial services professionals (most of them likely to be in the back and middle office, given this is JR's speciality) told the company they expected bonuses to be up 8.9% on last year.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Joslin Rowe Associates, says bankers are behind the curve and banks are going to be busy managing expectations downwards in the weeks to come: "Companies are still absorbing the effect of financial turmoil and we should expect lower payouts this year."

Or should we? Could it actually be that Joe Banker's instincts are correct? Data compiled by Bloomberg suggests that the world's top five investment banks - Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns - are expected to pay a record $38bn (18.6bn) globally in bonuses this year, vs. $36bn in 2006.

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