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Goldman Sachs Has Friends In High Places

Andrew Gordon, 20/3/2012

Some of Americas most powerful bankers (like Morgan Stanleys CEO James Gorman) and politicians (like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg) have come to Goldman Sachs defense in the wake of a scathing resignation letter from a longtime employee (published in the New York Times last week).

Well, what did you expect? Do you really think that Morgan Stanley (or any other big American bank) is so different from Goldman Sachs? Or that our elected officials dont feel protective toward a big taxpayer and political contributor like Goldman?

Money protects money. Power protects power. An attack on one member of an elite is an attack on all members. I dont doubt for a second that Greg Smiths account of Goldman Sachs bankers calling their customers Muppets, do you?

So, quite sadly, the attacks on Smith boil down to something akin to an upper-crust British sensibility. All the critics can really say is, bad form, old boy.

Did Michael Bloomberg, as Mayor of New York City, really have a choice but to jump to Goldmans defense? Of course he did. All he had to do is remain silent. That would have spoken volumes. As it is, his words of support were lukewarm at best, like this one

Its my job to stand up and support companies that are here in this city that bring us a tax base and that employ our people.

Okay, we get it, Michael. Its your job to bow and scrape at the feet of the all-mighty Goldman Sachs.

Bloomberg obviously didnt have his heart in this. But he suffers from a prevalent malady of our present-day politicians. He lacks conviction and backbone, something Greg Smith had in spades. From Time Magazine

As the fallout over Greg Smiths public resignation continues to swirl around Goldman Sachs, several powerful figures have rallied to the banks defense, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who made his fortune supplying data terminals to Wall Street and Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman. Even as Goldman faces a torrent of negative publicity as well as the ire of a resurgent Occupy Wall Street movement its clear that the powerful bank still has many friends in high places.

Bloomberg stopped by Goldmans lower-Manhattan headquarters to offer his support, shaking hands on the trading floor and sharing burgers with CEO Lloyd Blankfein, according to The New York Times. The mayors visit came just days after Smith, a 32-year-old executive director for Goldmans equity derivatives business, published a scathing resignation letter in The Times, accusing the bank of putting profits before the best interests of its clients. Smith, who worked in Goldmans London office, has not commented publicly since he resigned.

For Bloomberg, loyalty to Goldman Sachs and the financial services industry in general runs deep. He spent nearly a decade early in his career at famed investment bank Salomon Brothers. Later, he made billions supplying now-iconic Bloomberg data terminals to Wall Street banks, helping to lead a technological revolution in the financial services industry.

Other Wall Street heavy-hitters also stepped up to defend Goldman, including Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman. Speaking at a breakfast hosted by Fortune, Gorman said he told his employees not to circulate Smiths op-ed. I didnt think it was fair, Gorman said of Smiths letter, according to The Wall Street Journal. I dont really care what one employee said, Gorman said. At any point, someone is unhappy To pick a random employee, I dont think its fair. I dont think its balanced.

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