Goldman CEO's $100 Million Bonus: Fact or Fiction?

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The Times of London is reporting based on unsourced rumors that rival bankers claim Goldman Sachs Group (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein will pull in a cool $100 million bonus. Given that The Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose mouthpieces thrive on fake populism, this report ought to be taken with a huge grain of salt. But what if it was true?If so, it would be a shiny red cape waved in front of the raging bull of the American public, which, as I have noted in previous articles, is fed up with seeing .057% of the population siphon off enormous bonuses from the financial system while the other 99.943% of us don't do quite as well. If Goldman's board does decide to award Blankfein a $100 million bonus, it would be 47% more than he got in Goldman's previous record year -- 2007.

Specifically, Goldman paid Blankfein $67.9 million in 2007, when Goldman made a profit of $11.6 billion. Goldman's 2009 profits were $13.4 billion -- $1.8 billion, or 16%, more than it made in 2007. So if his compensation was just based on how much money Goldman made, a case could be made that for 2009, Blankfein ought to get a $78.4 million bonus, 16% more than he made in 2007.

But I am guessing that such a $78.4 million bonus -- or this rumored $100 million bonus -- would stir up popular anger tremendously. Attempting to pay a bonus that large would be a defiant stand by Goldman, one which would boldly dare President Obama to do something to stop it. After all, nothing tells the public who rules America -- Wall Street or the White House -- like a standoff over CEO compensation.

I think this rumor is fake. But if it's not, there will be a few people feeling more than a bit of personal discomfort when the numbers on Blankfein's bonus check are announced to the public.
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