The architecture critic for Bloomberg News has a column about Goldman Sachs's new headquarters tower in Lower Manhattan:
As I contemplated this edifice at 200 West Street, a block from Ground Zero, some numbers came to mind:
-- The $1.65 billion in tax-exempt bonds that helped build the tower and saved the firm $100 million.
-- The $115 million of tax breaks Goldman wrung from city and state officials desperate to show progress at the World Trade Center site.
-- The $16.7 billion Goldman has set aside for compensation this year.
The firm and its competitors say big paydays are essential to retain their best people. I'd argue that that is a totally fraudulent mantra insulting millions who are far less grandly paid yet glad to make a difference.
The column goes on to argue that the architects who designed the building work hard and do important things, too, but are paid a lot less than the investment bankers and traders at Goldman Sachs. It's amusing on some level to see Mayor Bloomberg, who runs the city, hire an employee of his wire service to criticize himself for being desparate enough to give Goldman a tax break. Talk about being on all sides of an issue. I opposed the Goldman tax breaks at the time and still do, but it's easy to see why this writer is covering architecture at Bloomberg rather than banker compensation. It's not fraudulent to say that Goldman needs to pay competitively to keep its people; their stars leave to start hedge funds where they can earn more money or are raided by competing banks all the time.