I've read nice article by Akerlof and Romer: "Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit, 1993." Where they describe how in the 80s financial institutions were looted by their shareholders on the expense of depositors (better: on the expense of state that guaranteed the deposits). It's scary how well the description of the 80s fits the Subprime crisis.
The looters then were owners/shareholders, the loot were (among other things) excessive dividends.
The mean to artificially inflate financial performance were (among other things) high risk construction project with very high interest rate. In the end, the government picked up the check.
The looters today were managers and the loot excessive bonuses...
The mean to artificially inflate financial performance were high risk mortgages with very high interest rate.
After the bubble bursted, the government picked up the check.
The last sentence of the paper says:
If we learn from experience, history need not repeat itself.
p.s. (In general, I agree with big bonuses in the financial industry. In certain cases - Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae the bonuses were in my opinion basically above described loot... )