Financial Regulatory Forum

BREAKINGVIEWS – Goldman bonus delay raises puzzling questions

– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

By George Hay

LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Goldman Sachs is taking its time, but it’s not clear why. Employees at the investment bank are usually told their annual bonus a few days before full-year results. But even though shareholders will discover the total amount spent on compensation on results day this Thursday, staff must now wait until next week to hear their individual windfall.

Goldman’s own explanation for the delay is that the welter of new regulations in 2009 has caused some slippage in working out individual bonuses. The G20 guidelines and the UK’s 50 percent tax on payouts over 25,000 pounds mean banks have new shackles, while Goldman’s conversion to a bank holding company means its financial year ends in December instead of a month earlier.

Maybe that’s the full explanation. But Goldman is not usually known for inefficiency. That’s why other theories are also going around. One is that the UK’s Financial Services Authority has thrown a spanner in the works. But the FSA has known the broad outlines of what Goldman was planning since early November. What’s more, Goldman has denied a rift with the regulator — and people familiar with the FSA’s thinking are downplaying the idea too.

Of course, the bank may simply be trying to manage the story. As the most notoriously profitable bank on Wall Street, Goldman will be acutely aware that it will face brickbats whatever it pays. If bankers were told their bonuses now, individual packages could leak out and Thursday’s results could disappear under a barrage of public outrage.

Goldman top executives to take bonuses in stock

By Steve Eder

NEW YORK, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc plans to pay top managers their 2009 bonuses in stock, rather than cash, as it seeks to deflect outrage over a near-record pay haul months after it repaid billions of dollars in taxpayer aid.

The decision to pay top managers in stock that cannot be sold for five years puts Goldman at the forefront of the push to align Wall Street pay with long-term performance. Still, the firm’s total compensation is on pace to top $20 billion this year.

That figure has put Goldman in the crosshairs of an international debate on pay.

U.S. pay czar: Will soon decide how to use clawback

Kenneth Feinberg, Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation, speaks to Reuters during an interview at his Washington law office, October 26, 2009.  REUTERS/Jason Reed   (UNITED STATES)   By Karey Wutkowski
WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. pay czar said on Monday that he will determine “in the near future” how he will use his power to claw back pay at companies that have taken bailout money but is not currently in negotiations to do so.

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Goldman Sachs tells U.S. SEC “dark pools” help investors

Oct 27 (Reuters) – Anonymous trading venues known as “dark pools” are a technological evolution that have benefitted both institutional and retail trading by bringing down transaction costs, Goldman Sachs Group Inc said in a memo to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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EU unveils plan to clamp down on derivatives trading

A woman walks past a branch of French savings bank Caisse d'Epargne in Bouvigal, near Paris, October 17, 2008. Caisse d'Epargne merged with Banque Populaire to become the country's second-largest retail bank, said last year it had made a 600-million-euro ($808.1 million) trading loss on share derivatives. (File Photo) REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (FRANCE) By John O’Donnell
BRUSSELS, Oct 20 (Reuters) – The European Commission unveiled plans on Tuesday to drive more trading in derivatives onto exchanges and under the gaze of regulators, publishing a raft of proposed new rules.

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U.S. firms oppose rules to curb short selling

GOLDMANSACHS/RESULTS   NEW YORK, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N> and Vanguard Group Inc are among U.S. companies opposed to rules proposed by U.S. regulators to limit short selling, according to letters filed by the companies. (more…)

Goldman boss says anger over pay justified, warns of rules overkill

Combination photograph of Wall Street bank executives testifying before House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 11, 2009.  Top row (L-R), are: Bank of New York's Robert Kelly, JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and Wells Fargo's John Stumpf. Bottom row (L-R), are: CitiGroup's Vikram Pandit, Morgan Stanley's John Mack, Bank of America's Ken Lewis and State Street's Ronald Logue.  By Edward Taylor

FRANKFURT, Sept 9 (Reuters) – The head of U.S. bank Goldman Sachs said on Wednesday that anger over bankers’ pay was “understandable and appropriate”, and that greater scrutiny of trade in complex instruments was needed to keep banks in check.   But with the banking sector bouncing back from the financial crisis, regulatory overkill could choke off economic growth, Lloyd Blankfein told an industry conference in Germany’s financial hub.

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ANALYSIS-Fatter capital rules mean lean times for big banks

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Banking is supposed to be boring.

That’s the quip that lobbyists and congressional aides use, only half-jokingly, to explain what’s in store for the banking industry as governments crack down with tighter regulation.

From higher capital standards and tighter oversight, to slimmer profits and smaller bonuses, global banking promises to be a duller and less lucrative business in years ahead. (more…)

France pushes bankers on bonuses ahead of G20

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks to the media in the courtyard at the Elysee Palace in Paris July 29, 2009. By Anna Willard
PARIS, Aug 24 (Reuters) – President Nicolas Sarkozy will push French bankers this week to do more to restrict bonuses so he can hold them up as a good example to other countries at meetings of the Group of 20 in September.

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ANALYSIS-Emerging currency revaluation back on global table

By Mike Dolan
LONDON, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Western governments seem set on preventing currency appreciation snuffing out nascent economic recoveries, helping reignite bets on a devaluation of major currencies against those of the emerging economic giants.

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