Joe Hagan’s Goldman Sachs (GS) article in New York magazine provides a target rich environment for the enemies of Goldman Sachs. (A bit earlier we linked to this article to talk about the difference in treatment between the monolines and AIG.)
But one of our favourite parts comes at the end, when Hagan reports that Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein isn’t really too worried about the “vampire squid” business. (For those of you totally out of touch, Rolling Stone described Goldman as a “vampire squid” that created and profited from every financial bubble in American history.) He’s actually pretty much indifferent to public perception, except when it affects internal morale.
And internal morale problems can be remedied with that universal solvent of bad feelings: more money.
In the end, Goldman’s reputation is a luxury they may well be able to do without. Robert Rubin has been privately critical of how the firm has handled the threats to its prestige, and Rogers recently addressed the firm’s reputation in seminars with Goldman staff. But a person who frequently talks to senior executives at Goldman sums up the company’s attitude this way: “If we can push the envelope without D.C. punishing us, we don’t care about our Main Street reputation.” Blankfein in particular is said to be dismissive of the firm’s critics. According to a person close to him, the CEO believes Goldman’s internal problems will disappear once compensation comes back. In other words, money will solve everything.
With enough money, perhaps he can even get the taxpayers off his back. Last week, Blankfein took a stab at assuaging public anger by paying a $1.1 billion return on the government’s $10 billion investment last fall—not a bad profit. It was a shrewd move, a prudent PR investment that prompted a round of stories about the firm’s “generosity to taxpayers.” Feel better?
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