A New York Times writer put together an article on the wives of rich and powerful men in the upper east side. There's a lot of absurdity in the "national geographic" way the writer describes their lives and an obvious liberal, feminist tilt given the publication, but there is a hidden gem inside that is absolutely hilarious.
And then there were the wife bonuses.
I was thunderstruck when I heard mention of a "bonus" over coffee. Later I overheard someone who didn't work say she would buy a table at an event once her bonus was set. A woman with a business degree but no job mentioned waiting for her "year-end" to shop for clothing. Further probing revealed that the annual wife bonus was not an uncommon practice in this tribe.
A wife bonus, I was told, might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband's fund had done but her own performance -- how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a "good" school -- the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks. In turn these bonuses were a ticket to a modicum of financial independence and participation in a social sphere where you don't just go to lunch, you buy a $10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting.
Women who didn't get them joked about possible sexual performance metrics. Women who received them usually retreated, demurring when pressed to discuss it further, proof to an anthropologist that a topic is taboo, culturally loaded and dense with meaning.
We often ramble on about bonus season for analysts and associates here on WSO, but who knew that the wives of the BSDs have the same set up? I love that instead of an "allowance" or a "budget" these financiers obviously went with the "bonus" model - putting their creativity on display. The idea that it was hammered out during a pre-nup too makes me really hope it isn't as simple as say, 25% of the husband's income, but instead features a complicated waterfall model where the wife's take home changed based on certain benchmarks.
Just fantastic. God bless America.