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1973 was a terrible year on Wall Street. An unexpected crisis in the Middle East led to a quadrupling of oil prices and a serious global economic recession. The president was in serious trouble with Watergate. The S&P 500 index dropped 50% (after 23 years of rising markets), and much of Wall Street fell deeply into the red. There were no profits, and therefore no bonuses.
I was a 35-year-old, nonpartner investment banker then and was horrified to learn that my annual take-home pay would be limited to my small salary, which accounted for about a quarter of my previous year's income. Fortunately the partners decided to pay a small bonus out of their capital that year to help employees like me get by.