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The Goldman Bonus 'Bloodbath'

Goldman Sachs
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Goldman Sachs

It's bonus day at Goldman Sachs.

Officially known as “Compensation Communication Day,” today is the day when many at Goldman are finding out what their bonus will be.

And it's "really ugly" today, according to one Goldman employee.

A midlevel Goldman Sachs employee who works in the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities division put it this way: "It's a bloodbath. People are trying to put on a strong face but there are a lot of clenched jaws."

One thing that makes the situation even more intense is that many receive the news of their bonus in a very public way.

Here's how Kevin Roose and Susanne Craig describe the process:

On Compensation Communication Day, the atmosphere inside Goldman’s office can be tense. Most employees are called one by one into a managing partner’s glass-walled office, where they are informed of their bonus numbers, as well as any stock awards or deferred cash payments they will get.

Not everyone can keep their cool under such scrutiny.

"One girl was actually crying, I think," a trader at Goldman said in a text message.

"My number was so low I thought I was fired. My director had to convince me that the firm still wants me to stick around," said one person at Goldman.

From what I've heard, the bonuses are lower across the board at Goldman. No one I spoke to could name a desk that hadn't "felt the pain," as one trader put it. The talk is that the fixed income desks were hit the hardest.

To some extent the apparent universality of the cuts may be helping. The usual bonus envy is way down, according to people I spoke with.

"You don't want to walk out of your comp meeting with too big of a smile. People will think you took money out of their pockets," one midlevel Goldman employee said.

The good news, it seems, is the bad news isn't worse.

"The worst fears haven't materialized. People are not receiving donuts. Base salaries aren't being cut. A lot of us thought it would be worse," said one person at the firm.

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