How to make $290 million in one year


Wall Street is flipping out today over the news, courtesy of Bloomberg View columnist Barry Ritholtz, that a single financial executive – Bill Gross, the bond-trading legend who left Pimco earlier this year – made a massive $290 million bonus last year. Another former Pimco executive, Mohamed El-Erian, raked it in, too, with a reported $230 million bonus.  These numbers (which Pimco is disputing) make even well-paid CEOs jealous, and they should – at $290 million, Gross was paid more than the next 17 highest-paid financial CEOs combined. (For some non-financial context, Robert Downey Jr., the highest paid actor in Hollywood according to Forbes, made only $75 million last year – roughly a quarter of Gross’s haul.)

It’s almost impossible to make $290 million in one year – especially if that money is in the form of a normal year-end cash bonus. Most times, when you see eye-popping paydays like these, they’re…

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