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Goldman Sachs joins Wall Street rivals in boosting junior banker salaries

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David Solomon, Goldman Sachs & Co.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

There’s a new minimum wage on Wall Street.

Goldman Sachs is giving its junior bankers a pay raise, the last major Wall Street firm to do so in a year where record deal-making activity has led to fierce competition for workers.

First-year analysts — the most junior of investment bankers who are typically recent college graduates — will be paid a $110,000 annual base salary, up from $85,000, according to a person with knowledge of the changes. The person added that second-year analysts will earn $125,000, up from $95,000, and first-year associates will get a $25,000 pay bump to $150,000.

The move establishes a new floor for compensation among major Wall Street investment banking programs. The industry was roiled in March when an internal survey done by Goldman analysts detailed long hours and burnout caused by the deals boom; rivals immediately seized on the controversy to announce perks including $20,000 special bonuses and Peloton bicycles.

But Goldman, which has perhaps the top brand in investment banking, resisted following its rivals in raising pay.

Instead, CEO David Solomon initially told employees the firm was hiring more bankers, automating menial tasks and recommitting to a “Saturday rule” to give workers a weekend respite. The bank had debated internally whether to boost salaries, which are fixed, instead of just making bonuses larger, the Financial Times reported last month.

In the meantime, rival banks including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Barclays all boosted first-year analysts’ pay to $100,000 from around $85,000.  That followed raises from Bank of America and other firms earlier in the year.

The industry can afford to be generous: The business of advising on mergers and acquisitions has been red hot this year, with the volume of deals globally soaring past $2 trillion amid a record first half. Investment banks get paid lucrative fees at the close of deals, and larger deals result in more dollars for compensation pools.

Banks often move in lockstep when it comes to pay and perks, hoping to lure enough talented workers to develop a pipeline of experienced dealmakers.

In the end, Goldman not only met competitors’ pay, but also exceeded it. The move could ultimately force rivals to match the bank’s $110,000 salary for first-year bankers, according to a Wall Street recruiter who declined to be identified.

Junior Goldman bankers also have more news coming: They will learn about the size of their bonuses later this month, according to the person. The percentage of pay a banker makes in so-called variable compensation grows as they climb the ranks.

“We have always paid very competitively,” Solomon said last month during an earning conference call. “We have always been a pay-for-performance organization.”

—CNBC’s Hannah Miao contributed to this report.

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Retail sales post surprise gain as consumers show strength despite delta fears

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Retail sales posted a surprise gain in August despite fears that escalating Covid cases and supply chain issues would hold back consumers, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

Sales increased 0.7% for the month against the Dow Jones estimate of a decline of 0.8%.

A separate economic report showed that weekly jobless claims increased to 332,000 for the week ended Sept. 11, according to the Labor Department. The Dow Jones estimate was for 320,000.

Economists had expected that consumers cut back their activity as the delta variant continued its tear through the U.S. Persistent supply chain bottlenecks also were expected to hold back spending as in-demand goods were hard to find.

The pandemic’s impact did show up in sales at bars and restaurants, which were flat for the month though still 31.9% ahead of where they were a year ago.

However, sales were strong for most areas during the month, when back-to-school shopping generally results in a pickup in activity, especially so this year as schools prepared to welcome back students after a year of remote learning.

The headline number would have been even better without a 3.6% monthly drop in auto-related activity; excluding the sector, sales rose 1.8%, also well above the 0.1% expected gain.

With fears rising over the pandemic, shoppers turned online, with nonstore sales jumping 5.3%. Furniture and home furnishing also saw a healthy 3.7% increase, while general merchandise sales increased 3.5%.

Electronics and appliances stores saw a 3.1% drop, while sporting goods and music stores fell 2.7%.

The numbers overall reflected a more resilient consumer, with sales up 15.1% from the same period a year ago.

The retail upside surprise was tempered slightly with a disappointing read on jobless claims.

Initial filings increased 20,000 from a week ago after posting a fresh pandemic-era low. Still, the four-week moving average, which accounts for weekly volatility, declined to 335,750, a drop of 4,250 that brought the figure to its lowest point since March 14, 2020, at the pandemic’s onset.

The claims total came under heavy seasonal adjustments, as the unadjusted figure showed a drop in filings of 23,331 to 262,619.

Continuing claims also declined, falling by 187,000 to 2.66 million, also a new low since Covid hit. The four-week moving average nudged lower to about 2.81 million.

However, those receiving compensation under all programs actually increased just ahead of the expiration of enhanced federal jobless benefits. That total, though Aug. 28 and thus before the expiration, rose by 178,937 to 12.1 million.

In a separate economic report, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve reported that its manufacturing activity index rose 11 points to 30.7, representing the percentage difference between firms reporting expanding activity against those seeing contraction. That number was well ahead of the Dow Jones estimate of 18.7.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.

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StanChart chairman still sees opportunity in China as regulations tighten

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Tourists visit the Bund waterfront area on May 10, 2021 in Shanghai, China.

Wang Gang | Visual China Group | Getty Images

But overall, I think China continues to be a tremendous source of opportunity for the private sector.

Jose Vinals

Chairman of Standard Chartered

“There’ve been some articles in the media about — is China becoming uninvestable? I don’t think so,” Jose Vinals told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Wednesday.

A number of sectors may be “a little bit more challenged now” and investors need to look more carefully at what investments they are making, he said.

“But overall, I think China continues to be a tremendous source of opportunity for the private sector,” he said, pointing out Beijing has slowly opened up its financial sector, granting some international firms access.

The regulatory crackdown in China has been interpreted differently by big names in the financial world, including Ray Dalio, George Soros and David Roche.

Inflation expectations

Separately, Vinals said he doesn’t expect inflation to be a big problem.

“I still subscribe to the view that inflation that we’re seeing in the United States and in other Western countries in particular … has an important transitory component,” he said.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

Fed Chair Jerome Powell similarly believes that inflation will soon subside and has said he wants to see more strong employment reports before the central bank starts paring back its bond purchases.

Vinals said many Western countries are operating below their maximum economic potential, adding the Federal Reserve is likely to hike rates early next year.

“My baseline is that inflation will not be a big problem. But there is a risk that it may become more of a problem than we think,” he said, acknowledging that it would “complicate things” for the world.

“But I see [inflation] more as a downside risk to the global economic recovery, than as the base case for the economic outlook,” he said.

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France rebukes Australia after it ditches submarine deal

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PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 15: French President Emmanuel Macron (R) welcomes Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison (L) prior to a working dinner at the Elysee Presidential Palace on June 15, 2021.

Chesnot | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — France is not holding back showing its disappointment with Australia after it abruptly ended a submarine contract in order to sign a new deal with the U.S. and U.K.

“It was a stab in the back. We had established a relationship of trust with Australia. This trust has been betrayed,” Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s minister for foreign affairs, told radio station FranceInfo Thursday morning.

Australia had signed a contract with French shipbuilder Naval Group in 2016 to build a new fleet, at a cost of $40 billion, according to Reuters. Both sides had confirmed the deal a couple of weeks ago. However, Canberra has now decided to scrap that agreement and join forces with the U.S. and Britain.

Late on Wednesday, the three nations announced a new security partnership where Australia will receive new nuclear-powered submarines. The deal with France would have provided conventional submarines.

“We intend to build these submarines in Adelaide in close cooperation with the U.K. and the U.S. But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons,” Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Twitter.

He added that France is a “good partner” and the new deal was motivated by “a changed strategic environment,” according to France 24.

U.S. President Joe Biden made sure to reference France when presenting the new deal on Wednesday, saying the European nation will remain a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

However, these words are unlikely to appease the ill feelings in France.

“The American choice which leads to the removal of an ally and a European partner like France from structuring a partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region … marks an absence of coherence that France can only observe and regret,” France’s ministers of foreign affairs and the armed forces said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The statement also said that the latest developments intensify the need for European strategic autonomy — the idea that the EU should become more independent with its defense and security policies.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is due to present its strategy for the Indo-Pacific region on Thursday afternoon.

 

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