Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein gave a speech Wednesday in which he took on the ever-controversial issue of bankers’ compensation.
The head of the “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” said public outrage at bankers’ overpay is “understandable and appropriate,” a comment some might find surprising given he was the highest-paid chief executive in 2007 when Goldman cut him a check for nearly $70 million. Blankfein went on to call for the outlaw of multi-year bonuses, larger proportions of pay in stock and the inclusion of a “clawback” option to take back previously awarded stock. For their part, econopundits have taken on the duty of reading between Blankfein’s lines. So what did Blankfein really say?
It’s What He Didn’t Say, according to the Atlantic’s Daniel Indiviglio. “What is noticeably absent from Blankfein's speech ... was any suggestion that Wall Street compensation should be curbed. He isn't saying bankers should be paid less, just differently.”
Goldman's Simply the Best, is how The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Corkery translated Blankfein’s remarks on Wall Street pay. Given that Goldman reported record profits of $3.44 billion in the second quarter, the speech was a snide way to tell Goldman's competitors, “Find out how to make money again and you’ll earn your pay.” The Street’s Dan Freed echoed this interpretation when he called Blankfein selfish for “suggesting bankers actually have to make money for the companies they work for.”
Nothing New; It’s All About the Timing, is how Zac Bissonette put it. “It looks like a pretty clear and well-orchestrated effort to make the company look less aloof and more aware of the serious problems in the financial industry.” Going forward, Bissonnette said the focus should be on how closely Goldman follows its leader's words if it creates a new compensation structure.