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What You Should Know / December 11, 2009

banker-protest1 -- But the details of this plan leave plenty of room for game-playing. After all, Goldman claims to have 31,700 employees, but they've increased that number this year by including 3,000 part-timers and consultants, so the bonus-per-employee calculation -- which would be $717,000 (dividing $22.7 billion by 31,700) will only be 8% higher than the $661,490 per employee record Goldman set in 2007, according to Bloomberg. Take out those 3,000, and Goldman's 2009 pay averages 20% higher than in 2007. But wait, there's more. By paying its top 30 people in stock, the other 31,670 can get cash -- so the move won't have any effect on recruiting "talent." And then there's the benefit of the deal on Goldman's financial reporting. The compensation expense for those stock bonuses doesn't begin to get reported until the shares vest in 2010. This means that Goldman's 2009 compensation expense will appear to be lower and its apparent profit will be higher.

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