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Goldman Sachs’ gamified cafeteria is an apt metaphor for unintended consequences of financial regulation

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Good traders, like children, always figure out a way to hack the system.
By Christopher Mims
New YorkPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Goldman Sachs doesn’t want its employees wasting their time waiting in line at the salad bar in its spotless, futuristic cafeteria, so it charges higher prices between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Diners enjoying treats like bubble tea and desserts from Momofuku outside those hours get a 25% discount.

This would seem like a fairly straightforward way to incentivize employees to spread their mealtimes throughout the day. But as with all attempts to create artificial incentives, there’s a catch, reports CNBC: Diners at the cafeteria who drop by for lunch close to the end of the penalty window can be found milling about between where you pick up the food and where you pay your final bill, wasting precious minutes at a company where people are capital.

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