Indeed, it is possible that Goldman’s bonus largess is creating a vicious circle: other, perhaps lesser firms, are probably going to pay even higher bonuses to try to compete with Goldman.

And therein lies the rub: While Goldman may have the Midas touch, the rest of Wall Street never seems to be able to keep up. And the only way for rival firms to compete with Goldman is take to outsize risk.

And, well, we’re familiar with how that story goes.

So now Goldman’s gilded paychecks are bad? So, what do we about it?

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.