Skip to main content

Banks Mulling Over Paying Bonuses Early, But Only If Goldman Does It First

  • Author:
  • Updated:

There's a rule on Wall Street that says if banks are considering doing something a little outside the box, something that might rock the boat a bit, they wait for Goldman's signal. Whether it's sartorial choices (Zubaz), internal protocols (the initiation of a buddy system between the prime brokerage and prop desk in order to facilitate front running of clients), or grooming (shorn scrotums), everyone waits for Goldman to go first and they then follow.

In some cases, the rationale comes down to the fact that the other firms really want to go for it (Deutsche, for one, was pushing hard for the hairless balls, telling anyone who would listen that "there's really nothing like it") but realize that if there's any blowback, Goldman Sachs is best equipped to take the heat (by telling those who criticize to go fuck themselves). In others, the move being considered may not be something management at other shops want to do at all; they hold out for as long as possible until Goldman has to screw by doing it, at which time the other firms must follow suit, lest their employees get jealous of, for instance, their GS counterparts' newly aerodynamic sacks.

To that end, the Times reports that Wall Street is "discussing whether to move up their bonus payouts from next year to this month," out of fear that "lawmakers will allow taxes to rise for the wealthiest Americans beginning next year." Apparently executives "at two large banks said their companies tentatively decided not to speed payouts, unless Goldman did. Then, these two executives said, they would consider paying early as a competitive measure, so that their workers were not upset."

Mind you, Goldman itself has not yet decided anything and it would be a bit crunched for time on coming up with the numbers if it did in fact decide to accelerate the bonus timetable, to say nothing of the fact that the same paper reported on the same day that it's looking like the tax cuts will be extended (not just for those making up to $250,000 but higher-earners as well).

So, you know, what will happen remains a bit unclear. Also unclear: what's going on in the article's accompany photo:

"Goldman Sachs's headquarters in Manhattan. Goldman often plans bonuses early, and the richness of its payouts sets the tone."

Tax Fear May Move Bonuses Earlier


Bonus Watch '13: Deutsche Bank Is Mulling Over The Idea Of Paying A Li'l Less This Year, Would Appreciate Rivals Throwing Them A Bone And Doing The Same

The Germans might take an ax to bonuses, cutting them by 20 percent, or they might not. According to CEO Anshu Jain, what it may come down to is whether or not other banks will help him out here by getting on board with the proposed reductions, as it would make DB look bad to be the only firm doling out tough love this year. Thanks in advance.