bank bonuses

Bank bonus recipients will spend it — quietly

Isaac Mostovicz writes that the fury over bank bonus pay-outs has translated into extreme financial discreetness for bankers...


There’s an interesting story in the New York Times today about the coming bonuses that rescued banks will begin doling out to its employees. Setting aside the furor over whether it’s the right thing to do, I want to look at what happens after the money is awarded.

The article suggests that those who get the bonuses will indeed accept them. However it will be a quiet affair, not a flashy, borderline show-off event. Purchases made with bank bonus money are treated with secrecy, as one New York Times reporter found:

In the Hamptons, where real estate agents court bankers looking for summer homes, the sales are also expected to be a boon for contractors, movers and groundskeepers. “A community like the Hamptons depends on house trades,” said Diane Saatchi, an agent with Saunders and Associates who just sold a home to a banker for $4.9 million. “Don’t ask to talk to him about it, because he won’t,” Ms. Saatchi said of the buyer, deflecting a reporter. “They don’t want anyone to know they are buying.” That includes the banker’s extended family, she explained, because he is worried they will ask him for money.

A by-product of the global recession has been how people feel about wealth. More specifically, how people feel about individuals who have great wealth.

Instead of being seen as the fruits of hard work and business savvy, it’s instead being seen as a sign of extreme greed and selfishness. It’s too early to tell if this will be a short-term side effect, or if the public psyche has been forever altered by it.

The torrent of populist rage against bankers enriching themselves in the midst of a global recession has had an impact inside the banks, according to the article:

“Bankers are being told by their bosses to be careful,” said Janet Hanson, who was an executive at Goldman Sachs for 14 years and is a founding member of 85 Broads, a professional women’s networking organization. “I mean, how does it look if you got a $1 million bonus from Goldman Sachs and you are sporting around in a new Audi TT? People will hate you.” (To deflect criticism, Goldman announced last week it would pay its top 30 executives in stock only.)

As the global economy continues to recover, it will be very interesting to see what the longer term affects that the recession will have on people’s perception of wealth.

Was the rage and, at comes, contempt, because others around were suffering? Or is it the build-up of years of frustration? If it’s the latter, then perhaps we will see this phenomenon continue, long after the economy has fully recovered.

Bryson says of this article...

A few years ago I’d have to pay someone for this infomrtioan.

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