Goldman Sachs: The Reaping


Goldman Sachs profits are down 52 percent. The firm is getting slammed all over the place after screwing up by offering U.S. customers Facebook shares, then taking them away like a bad parent. But never mind that: What's the evil angle? Leave it to the Times to pull something together. "Goldman Sachs executives have long been among the most richly paid on Wall Street in the best of times," the paper reminds us today in the special tone they reserve for coverage of the firm and comic book antiheroes, then informs us:

They are now poised to reap a windfall that was sown in the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008.

Goodness, how sinister! Where will this windfall come from? Are the trader clones they've commissioned from Stark Industries finally ready? Has the mad scientist in the basement come up with a potion that makes them invisible to the SEC? Have they discovered a loophole in Warren Buffett's contract?

Nearly 36 million stock options were granted to employees in December 2008 — 10 times the amount issued the previous year — when the stock was trading at $78.78.

Oh. The stock options that they were forced, under political and public pressure, to take instead of cash, so that it looked like they had "skin in the game" and weren't just messing around with our TARP money have reached maturity. Hmmm. What else do you have that's scary, Times?

What about the creepy partnership program? Tell us some more about that!

The partnership system is a vestige of Goldman’s days as a private firm. Most Wall Street firms shed their partnerships after going public. But Goldman, one of the last big investment banks to sell shares to the public, created a hybrid model, as an incentive for employees. Goldman releases the names of the new partners, but keeps the full membership list close to the vest.

A hybrid that they hide. That is some freaky-ass shit. Except, if you looked at the names they released every year, you would probably have some idea of who's a partner, right? And, if you really want to know someone's status, you could probably just ask them, like, "Hey, are you a partner?" And they'll probably be like, "Yes." Give us something scarier, Times!

The partnership is purged as new blood comes in.

WHOA. Oh, wait. "De-partnering is a media red herring," Lucas van Praag told us, awhile back, to our grave disappointment. "The reality is people leave (strange but true). Some retire, some take other jobs, some leave to start their own businesses … the partner population ebbs and flows." Of course he is probably lying. 'Cause what about the firm, overall? They're just creepy, right?

“It is a very Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest firm,” said one former Goldman partner.

Hmmm. Darwin. So they're like, humans? Oh.

Study Points to Windfall for Goldman Partners [NYT]