If you've been keeping up with the finance news as of late you'll know that one of the warmer topics in recent weeks has been the threat that many formerly big-swinging bankers on Wall Street will receive a big old goose egg as a bonus this year. While true, please let us not forget that after Kenny Feinberg (aka the Pay Czar) came on the scene (he's since exited stage left and is now sipping whisky sours in the crimson-carpeted lobby), most of the big investment banks on the planet did a little switcheroo to make it seem as if they were lessening bonuses to their employees: the crafty, if not blatantly obvious illusion involved increasing salaries at the expense of bonuses. In some cases, the trick involved significantly increasing salaries. The transparent trick also seemed to have fooled many, including The New York Times.
It wasn't that long ago that a typcical managing director at a bulge bracket investment bank was making $150,000 in annual salary and picking up a $1 million bonus at the end of the year. Granted, those seven-figure days are gone for many dealmakers at present (though, they will return, if not next year then in 2012), as many MDs are now making $400,000 or $500,000 in annual salary and looking at the prospect of taking home zilch in bonus money. But still, please don't feel too sorry for your bridge partner or weekly squash opponent if they complain over getting coal this Christmas. They've already received their bonuses this year -- in their paychecks every other week since the first of January.