Greg Smith, a senior executive at investment bank Goldman Sachs, has resigned and fired off a salvo at what he describes as the “toxic and destructive” environment of that institution, where they routinely disparage their clients as ‘muppets’ while ripping them off.
Felix Salmon says that it is disingenuous for Smith to be so shocked, shocked at the sudden appearance of venality of the institution he worked in for so long.
So let’s not pretend to be shocked that the most successful bankers are the ones who make the most money off their clients. And let’s not try to imply that the solution to this problem lies at the Goldman Sachs board level. It doesn’t. The real muppets, in this story, are Goldman’s board members, who have never had any real control over how the company is run. And, frankly, never will. The most remunerative skill, at Goldman, is the ability to flatter someone into believing that they’re incredibly important and clever and sophisticated, even as you’re getting that person to do exactly what’s in your own best interest. No one rises to lead Goldman Sachs who doesn’t have that skill. And you can be sure that Lloyd Blankfein uses it on the board every time he meets with them.
Goldman Sachs, whom Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi famously referred to as “a great vampire squid wrapped round the face of humanity” is notorious for actively seeking out ostentatious greed mongers to work for them.
Humorist Andy Borowitz quotes from a ‘press release from Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’ that explains how they get such stellar performance from their employees. “At Goldman, we pride ourselves on our ability to scour the world’s universities and business schools for the finest sociopaths money will buy. Once in our internship program, these youths are subjected to rigorous evaluations to root out even the slightest evidence of a soul.”
That sounds about right.