A Bonus by Any Other Name Still Smells Like Money

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But she has such a trustworthy face! Photo: istockphoto

Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have figured out an ingenious way to avoid the PR nightmare of rewarding huge bonuses — just call it something else. The Huffington Post has gotten its hands on the audio of a conference call in which the firms — which have received $60 billion in bailout money — discussed the details of the "retention award" they plan to dole out to financial advisers after they merge. The exact amount will be tied to 2008 performance, not 2009, because, well, 2009 is going to suck. "There will be a retention award. Please do not call it a bonus," says James Gorman, co-president of Morgan Stanley, in the recording. "It is not a bonus. It is an award." Phew. It's a good thing he clarified that, because the public seems to get all hissy lately when bailed-out banks use taxpayer money for bonuses. But an award? That's totally different.

Bailed-Out Firms Distributing Cash Rewards: "Please Do Not Call It A Bonus" [HuffPo]