Get out your tiny violins! The NY Times has a feature on how the coveted Goldman Sachs partnership can also be taken away from executives." And, people, it's serious: A former senior managing director at Bear Stearns and visiting professor at Adelphi, Michael Driscoll, tells the Times, "Being partner at Goldman is the pinnacle of Wall Street; if you make it, you are considered set for life. To have it taken away would just be devastating to an individual. There is just no other word for it."

Sources says dozens of partners could be demoted (really "de-partnered") "to make way for new blood." According to the Times, "Goldman weeds out partners because it is worried that if the partnership becomes too big, it will lose its cachet and become less of a motivational tool for talented up-and-comers, people involved in the process say. If too many people stay, it creates a logjam." And there's been a logjam these recent years, because of the financial crisis.

De-partnered executives keep their $200,000 salaries, but their bonuses can dwindle. One former executive said, "I have friends who have been de-partnered who are still there, and most people inside think they are still partners. It is something you just don’t talk about."