This bonus season, with encouragement from the White House, Wall Street firms have been paying their employees less in cash and more in stock. The idea is that vast cash bonuses encourage reckless, short-term decisions—while stock awards incentivize long-term planning that creates lasting value.
The practice has set Goldman Sachs bankers howling. “Some employees say the shift could leave them short of cash," the Wall Street Journal reported, "since stock comes with restrictions on how quickly it can be sold. And since many people plan their household budgets around bonus expectations, they may need the cash to cover mortgages, school tuition and other expenses.”
So, do the folks at Goldman Sachs really have a liquidity problem? The base salary of a partner—excluding bonuses or stock awards—hovers around $600,000 a year. What are they blowing all that money on? Below, we've gamed out some of the yearly costs:
When you add in all the other miscellaneous expenses—gifts for parents and kids, prescription drug refills, gasoline for the Audi A4, and on and on—it does look like a bit of a cash crunch. Of course, there are ways for a Goldman partner to cut back and stay within budget for the year. Ditching the summer pad in the Hamptons for one in Toms River, New Jersey, (near Snooki!) would free up some cash, and giving less money to charity always stands as the no-nonsense, Randian option. (Extra incentive: according to The New York Times, skipping a few galas could save $35,000 on gowns for your trophy wife.) But however our Goldman partner chooses to alleviate his financial stress, he should remember that his problems are exclusively attributable to government intervention and are not—repeat: are not—of his own making.
Noah Kristula-Green, Sam Sweeney and Byron Tau are web interns at the New Republic.