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"But the shrinkage of the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bonus pool is another. Whatever else the Treasury achieves it must know that if the employees of Goldman suffer any sort of pay cut, it will be judged to have failed. And our country may never recover."

"Last year Goldman paid its employees $20 billion, 44 percent of the firm's revenue. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein took home $68.5 million, and many otherwise ordinary human beings took home $10 million or more."

"This inspired young people everywhere, many of whom may have privately wondered whether it was still worth their time to become investment bankers. Torn between a future in, say, the law and the manufacture of mezzanine CDOs they sucked up their courage and plunged onto Wall Street. And thank God for that: We needed the best and the brightest to get us into this mess, and we'll need the best and the brightest to get us out of it."

"Therein lies the problem: If they see Goldman's salaries and bonuses declining, who among the best and the brightest will be induced to join Goldman?"

"To its credit the government has thus far done pretty much all it can to prevent any suffering inside the firm. Its extreme sensitivity to Goldman's pain is the only way to explain its actions thus far."

'But I don't want to dwell on the government's failure. As I say, so far they've done a pretty good job making sure no one at Goldman Sachs suffers so much as a scratch on his person. I want to look to the future."

"Poker Game"

"The Treasury has proposed using $700 billion of taxpayers' money to buy the shaky investments created by the likes of Goldman Sachs and sold to customers. This is good, for many obvious reasons, and one less obvious one, too. Obviously, it has slowed the market's desire to put Goldman out of business. It also offers Goldman a place to stuff its bad investments at prices well above market levels."

"But the Treasury plan also creates this wonderful hidden opportunity for Goldman Sachs to make a killing, and thus preserve its bonus pool for a long time to come."

T"hink of Wall Street as a poker game and Goldman as the smartest player. It's sad when you think about it this way that so much of the dumb money on Wall Street has been forced out of the game. There's no one left to play with. Just as Goldman was about to rake in its winnings and head home, the U.S. government stumbles in, fat and happy and looking for some action. I imagine the best and the brightest inside Goldman are right this moment trying to figure out how it uses the Treasury not only to sell their own crappy assets dear but also to buy other people's crappy assets cheap."

"At any rate, it won't take long for Goldman Sachs to figure out how to make that $700 billion work for Goldman Sachs. This you can trust them to do. After all, Warren Buffett just did."

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