Lunchtime Links: Goldman goes for unfettered bonus freedom

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Rumour has it that Goldman Sachs now aspires to repay its $10bn of TARP money very, very soon, quite possibly as early as next month. Blankfein originally aspired to repay by the end of the year, so this undoubtedly has something to do with the punitive tax proposals going through Congress. There's speculation that the payment might be funded by the sale of Goldman's ever depreciating stake in ICBC, although the New York Times points out that Goldman is sitting on '$100bn of available cash, so a mere $10bn should be no problem.'

Needless to say (and as CNBC pointed out last week), if Goldman repays early it will be in a position to 'rule Wall Street' by poaching superior talent from other firms still subject to TARP pay restrictions. An interesting graph in yesterday's FT (which unfortunately hasn't been replicated on the web), showed Goldman is doing quite well already - it now ranks ninth by market value among global financial services firms, up from 20th in 1999.

Morgan Stanley says senior execs will forfeit stock if 3 year performance targets not met. (Financial News)

Europe banning big bonuses too. (Insurance Times)

Credit Suisse pays out €447m in toxic bonuses. (Financial News)

So you want 14x free leverage? (Zero Hedge)

Where Geithner's gone wrong. (Information Arbitrage)

Credit Suisse has had a strong start to 2009. (Reuters)

"If the global economy, financial markets, legal and regulatory environment, and competitive environment develop as foreseen, Deutsche Bank expects to return to profitability in 2009."

(Bloomberg)

Meredith Whitney is hiring. (BusinessInsider)

Small bond traders hiring on Wall Street. (Bloomberg)

Barclays doubling investment banking staff in Japan. (Bloomberg)

"Merrill Lynch left us on the streets..." (Bloomberg)

Could the bonus bill encourage sign-on bonuses? (Dealbreaker)

Italy's answer to the financial crisis. (Reuters)

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