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Bonus Day Hits Goldman Tomorrow!

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Goldman Sachs is likely to reveal the details of its bonuses to staff tomorrow, according to people at the firm.

Some partners may be getting word of their bonuses today, one person said. The rest of the staff will have to wait until Thursday.

In years past, Goldman used to deliver the bonus news a few days before it announced its full-year results. That practice changed in 2009, following the financial collapse of 2008. Since then, Goldman has adopted the schedule we're seeing now, giving the bonus news after the full-year results.

This has ruined one of my favorite games: guessing how well Goldman did in the fourth quarter, based on rumors about bonus awards. If bonuses were very good, it meant the fourth quarter was a smash. If they were worse than expected, it meant that the fourth quarter was a droop.

But we already know that Goldman had a rough time in the fourth quarter. Fixed-income trading revenue dropped a horrendous 48 percent. Equity trading revenues fell 5 percent. Goldman's full-year revenues fell 13 percent. Its bonus pool fell by 5 percent while its headcount rose by 10 percent. The combined effect of a smaller bonus pool and more sharks swimming in it means that the "average bonus" will drop by 14 percent.

Of course, pretty much no one cares about the "average bonus." All they care about is what they are getting paid. And that is why tomorrow will be a big day for the vice presidents, associates and analysts at Goldman.

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