Goldman Sachs board member and Harvard professor Bill George defended the firm's massive bonuses and compared employees' compensation to that of professional athletes and movie stars during a recent interview.
In an interview posted Dec. 23, 2009, George told the ideas web site Big Think "I think that one feels like the shareholder value is made up in people and you need the people there to do the job and if you don't pay them for their performance you'll lose them and it's much like professional athletes and movie stars I think."
He went on to admit that he couldn't justify the size of a banker's salary compared to that of a school teacher's, but he said that the same could be said about the salary of a professional athlete.
According to The New York Times, Goldman Sachs has set aside at least $16.7 billion for employee compensation in 2009, or an average of about $700,000. Goldman's bonuses are on track to break the record they set in 2007. The firm has decided their top 30 executives will receive bonuses in long-term stock, rather than cash.
In addition to the $10 billion that Goldman received in Treasury-issued TARP funds, the firm got $13 billion from the government's bailout of AIG and $22 billion worth of government guarantees on its debt.