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It was so good in fact that the firm with the Midas touch reported record net earnings of $13.4 billion on revenues of $45.2 billion. Which, of course, means its ranks will receive big and beautiful bonuses this year—but not as big and beautiful as they could've been.
Amid all the public criticism heaved Goldman's way in anticipation of the firm passing out huge incentive checks not long after the U.S. government helped them and others through a very rough patch, the firm decided to set aside just a measly $16.2 billion for bonuses, or about 36 percent of revenues. Sure, $16.2 billion is no bag of coal, but Goldman could've gone higher. Consider that in 2007 the firm set aside $20 billion for bonuses and in 2008 the percentage of revenue devoted to incentive compensation equaled 48 percent.
What hasn't been announced yet is how much CEO Lloyd Blankfein will bank for his efforts in 2009. We do know that he (and other Goldman top executives) will only be receiving a stock bonus (no cash), but seeing how Goldman killed it this year while its competitors still struggled (Citigroup booked a monstrous loss for the year and Morgan Stanley booked its first annual loss in history) Lloyd should get close to the record $68 million he made in 2007.
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