Thursday, March 15, 2012
Goldman Op-Ed: The Words "Well Duh" Spring to Mind
03/15 BLOG: The Op-Ed column in the 03/15 edition of the New York Times, written by a disgruntled Goldman Sachs employee, created quite a stir in the media. My immediate reaction to the piece was: "Goldman Sachs? A toxic atmosphere? Ripping off customers? Well, duh!" Goldman Sachs is an investment bank, an aggressive and highly competitive trading entity. Of course customers get ripped off. Naturally the atmosphere gets toxic. Has Greg Smith (the GS quitter) ever been inside another investment bank for crying out loud? I remember when London banks started writing structured derivatives contracts in the early 1980's, designed to "help" third world countries manage their debt. These deals were openly called "ripping their faces off". Traders have been calling naive people on the other side of trades "muppets" since, well, The Muppets. (The op-ed furor is now being called "Muppetgate"! LOL) And where did the warm and fuzzy feelings Smith experienced at the beginning of his GS career come from? Maybe leftover from the initiation period where gung-ho types gee-up the new troops for action. Still, it took 12 years to realize the truth? C'mon.
The puzzling thing is - why did the NY Times run the op-ed at all? Plenty of disgruntled, fired and passed-over-for-bonus employees must send in letters every day. Does someone on the editorial board have a grudge against Goldman? The NYT would do well to remember that Wall Street pays bazillions of dollars in taxes to New York City and state, plus hires hundreds of thousands of people who read the NYT on their way to work every day. It seems the paper might have bitten one of the hands that feeds it.
I enjoyed the media frenzy, along with send-ups by Stephen Colbert and Dave Borowitz and other comedians, most of whom had never heard of Goldman Sachs only five years ago. Our little world - Wall Street and the City of London - has made the mainstream. Unfortunately for Greg Smith. He will go in down in history (a very short history) as a whiner - or whinger as we say in England. I don't fancy his chances at another job in the industry.