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Money Management

Wall Street profits increase 33% in first half of 2017 — DiNapoli report

New York state comptroller warns against rolling back financial regulations

Thomas P. DiNapoli
Thomas P. DiNapoli

Profits among Wall Street firms reached $12.3 billion for the first half of 2017, up 33% from the same period last year, said a report issued Monday by Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state comptroller and sole trustee of the $197.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany.

"Wall Street had a very strong first half of the year," Mr. DiNapoli said in a telephone news conference. He added he believes it's on track for a continued strong 2017.

Mr. DiNapoli's annual Wall Street report measures profitability as the pretax profits of broker-dealer operations of firms that are members of the New York Stock Exchange. Broker-dealer industry profits were $17.3 billion for 2016, up 21% from 2015, "reversing a three-year trend of declining profits," the report said.

In the past three years, the industry added 11,100 jobs in New York City, bringing employment to 177,000 in 2016, the highest level since the financial crisis.

Despite recent job gains, the industry in New York is still 6% smaller than before the financial crisis, while it exceeds the level before the crisis in the rest of the nation by nearly 4%.

Mr. DiNapoli offered a "word of caution," warning that rolling back financial regulations and incurring too much risk to boost profits "could put Americans in harm's way."

"Obviously, the big concern is to not have a collapse like we had in '08, '09," he said.

The full report is available on the state comptroller's website.