Thursday, July 2, 2009

Big Pay Packages Return To Wall Street

The arrogance of Goldman Sachs is stupefying. But hey, you own the US government or not. The writing of the message for the next bubble is on the Wall ;) and the American media and public is fast asleep and actually does not care. People and organisations outside the US have the obligation to criticise the American system as they are directly affected by it. Put it this way: we should shout from the rooftops that we insist on another system as savers are being conned, punished. The spenders go scot-free. And what is worse that investors think they are spending their money wisely in a fair system of demand and supply not knowing that on top of the food chain is Goldman Sachs c.s manipulating stocks, the gold price and anything that is being traded just keeping an eye on their profit. Matt Taibbi wrote in the magazine Rolling Stone about Goldman Sachs:
"From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they're about to do it again"
"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."
The average salary of a Goldman Sachs employee for 2009 is estimated on US$ 700,000. They "own" the American government.

Conclusion: Investors on the stock exchange are being conned and because of their serial conflicts of interest with critical, high placed government positions, Goldman Sachs should be treated as a criminal organisation. Take your money out of the system now and invest in physical gold.

Big Pay Packages Return to Wall Street

Compensation on Track to Soar as Earnings Recover From Crisis; 'Like It's 2007 Again'

Business is back on Wall Street. If the good times continue to roll, lofty pay packages may be set for a comeback as well.

Based on analysts' earnings forecasts for 2009, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is on track to pay out as much as $20 billion this year, or about $700,000 per employee. That would be nearly double the firm's $363,000 average last year, and slightly higher than the $661,000 for the average Goldman employee in fiscal 2007, according to analyst estimates reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Morgan Stanley, the only other huge U.S. securities firm left as an independent company, will likely pay out $11 billion to $14 billion in compensation and benefits this year, analysts predict. On a per-employee basis, payouts are expected to exceed last year's average of $262,000. Howard Chen, an analyst at Credit Suisse, projects that the company's average pay will come close to the $340,000 paid out by Morgan Stanley in fiscal 2007.

Some of the most lucrative pay packages are being offered in businesses that are improving, such as junk-bond trading. Jobs and pay remain iffy in areas like asset-backed securities where markets remain frozen.Russ Gerson, who runs an executive-recruiting firm that fills jobs on Wall Street, says it is too soon to tell if the strong results from securities firms in the first and second quarters will translate into huge paychecks at the end of the year. "All this euphoria about bonuses is based on the expectation that the business is returning to normal and that we will be in a robust environment again. If the fourth quarter is significantly down, I would expect bonuses not to recover too much from 2008 levels," he said.

Whether the higher payouts occur will depend on whether Wall Street earnings continue to recover from last year's bruising losses on troubled assets and bad trading bets. If the market's resilience since early March fades or a new crisis erupts, then securities firms would likely set aside far less to pay their employees than they did in this year's first two quarters. Firms can set aside money for compensation and then decide not to pay it later.

Still, the comeback in compensation so far this year shows how hard it is for Wall Street to break its old habits. Repaying last year's capital infusions from the government freed Goldman, Morgan Stanley and other big financial firms from curbs on compensation. Meanwhile, non-U.S. banks that didn't get Troubled Asset Relief Program funds are becoming increasingly aggressive.

Deutsche Bank AG, for example, has discussed a two-year guarantee with prospective fixed-income traders and salespeople in conversations about potential job offers, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Deutsche Bank declined comment.

"I'm seeing deals like it's 2007 again," says Steven Eckhaus, an executive-employment lawyer at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in New York. He's worked on several deals recently that featured eight-figure guaranteed pay packages stretched over one to three years.

The recent increases in compensation reflect efforts by Wall Street executives to keep pay high enough to remain competitive but low enough to avoid the wrath of angry lawmakers. In at least one case, bank executives or their representatives have discussed pay with the Obama administration's pay czar Kenneth Feinberg ahead of time, seeking to head off any public reprimand, according to a person familiar with the meetings.

A Treasury spokesman said Mr. Feinberg "has just begun his process for reviewing compensation at the seven firms receiving exceptional assistance; he has yet to approve any plans."

While Wall Street firms remain loath to cap pay levels, some are changing the mix of salary and bonus, partly in response to the financial crisis and added scrutiny from Washington. Some are boosting salaries and adding more stock, as well as so-called "clawback" provisions aimed at tying employee pay packages more closely to the long-term fortunes of their firms. As a rule, securities firms pay out about 50% of revenue in compensation.

The practice of offering two-year guarantees in compensation to certain new hires isn't widespread so far, with just a handful of firms doling out such packages. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. executives, for example, feel the company's relative strength is enough of a selling point to prospective employees. Citigroup Inc. is steering clear of such guarantees partly because its pay practices already are under tough scrutiny from investors and the governmeGoldman, which has suffered less than most of its rivals since the credit crisis began in 2007, remains committed to using bonuses, increasingly from stock, to reward its top performers. Still, the firm is trying to carefully manage compensation, perks and other expenses that could be criticized.When the company repaid its $10 billion in TARP last month, Goldman President Gary Cohn

When the company repaid its $10 billion in TARP last month, Goldman President Gary Cohn left a companywide voicemail message reminding employees to keep their focus and not to change what they were doing. Other Goldman officials warned junior employees not to go out to bars near the office and pay with a corporate credit card, according to a person familiar with the matter.

"We've only accrued one quarter for compensation and benefits" for 2009, a Goldman spokesman said, noting that the 18% increase from a year earlier was "primarily due to higher revenues." He added that "compensation practices at Goldman Sachs remain fundamentally tied to the firm's performance."

In the first quarter, Morgan Stanley set aside $2.08 billion for compensation. That's down from the previous year's first quarter, but represents an unusually high 68% of its revenue. Mr. Chen, the Credit Suisse analyst, expects the firm to set aside roughly 54% of 2009 revenue for compensation and benefits, showing "the need to competitively pay employees," he wrote.Morgan Stanley declined to comment on Mr. Chen's report.

—Liz Rappaport and Robin Sidel contributed to this article.

Write to Aaron Lucchetti at

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