Thursday, April 9, 2009

A New Kind Of Atmosphere

I heard the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, interviewed on NPR yesterday. If you thought this recession wasn’t affecting rich investment bankers, guess again. This is from a summary of the interview on NPR’s website:

Because Goldman Sachs is now receiving money from the federal government, Blankfein says, the compensation issue is on the “forefront” of the executives’ minds.

“And since money is fungible, we’re very, very careful how we spend the money and how it appears that we’re spending the money,” Blankfein says. “It certainly affects our behavior, and you know something — it should affect our behavior.”

The notion of bankers playing a round of golf in the afternoon while at a conference has changed, he says.

“There’s kind of a new atmosphere in the world. Things don’t look the same,” Blankfein says. “If we were not in the TARP today, I think the round of golf still feels a little bit different than it would have felt two years ago. And by the way, there’s a business purpose for the round of golf; it’s not as if people within Goldman Sachs are playing with each other when they should be laboring at their desks. We’re engaging with our clients in a context in which people can be more friendly, share more information, become closer — all with a commercial purpose, which is in the best interest of our shareholders. There was nothing wrong with it then, but it does have a different feel in the context of so much distress.”

The poor guy can’t enjoy his golf game anymore. What kind of country our we becoming when a coven of greedy bankers can’t get together at an exclusive golf club to create bigger, better ways to rip everyone else off without it all feeling, you know, different than it used to?

By the way, somebody tell Lloyd Blankfein that we never thought the Lords of Wall Street just went around “playing with each other.” Where would they find the time when they’re so busy screwing us?

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