Monday, July 27, 2009

Tenacious G: Goldman Sachs

If you’re interested in the recent debates surrounding Goldman and its current reputation, this articles is pretty fascinating.



Thirty floors up in the black-tinted box that is Goldman Sachs headquarters on 85 Broad Street, there is a whiff of panic in the air. The Goldman of legend—pillar of the free market, breeder of super-citizens, object of envy and awe—has vanished. Ever since the bank crossed paths with U.S. taxpayers, getting saved with at least $10 billion in government aid last year and then parlaying that into $5.1 billion in profits in 2009 (so far), the firm has been seen as the ugly essence of capitalism at its most cynical—by Washington, by the public, by the financial press, even by some of its clients. Stalwart voices of Wall Street like the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal have criticized the firm’s undue influence on government and its ruthless pursuit of risky profits. Venom is flowing from more unlikely quarters as well: A recent Rolling Stone article called Goldman “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” and accused it of rigging every major market bubble since the Great Depression.

This is not the kind of attention Wall Street’s most vaunted financial institution is used to. Which is why I am now sitting in its wood-paneled and gold-trimmed executive suite: The famously press-averse firm has consented to a rare audience.

The man Goldman has selected to come to its defense is John Rogers, the firm’s chief of staff. Rogers is typical of the Goldman elite—doubling as a Washington power broker and confidant to James Baker, Jon Corzine, and Hank Paulson. The atmosphere is airless as Rogers sits down, his steady eyes barely blinking: a silver-haired sphinx in a sky-blue shirt. “We don’t live in a vacuum, and we’re very aware of what the general public is thinking,” says Rogers calmly. “We work in a fiercely competitive global industry, but we can’t afford to be oblivious to public opinion.”