Oh, to be Vikram Pandit. Not only are you devastatingly handsome but you're at the helm of the world's most successful financial services company in the world to boot. You and your shop are the catch of Wall Street. Everyone-- and I do mean everyone-- wants a piece of your shit, even (especially) Grade A slabs of meat, like, for instance, Goldman Sachs and that adorable little Jew they've got running the place. Such great power over the poontang, however, is not without drawbacks. Because you get propositioned more times before lunch than most CEOs do in a lifetime, you inevitably have to turn some offers down (we can't have that thing breaking off on us). But you've got to do it gently because 1) you do not want anyone keying your car and 2) you never know when you're going to wanna put that piece of A in rotation.
Blankfein was reading an e-mail when John Rogers, Goldman's chief of staff, arrived. As they were reviewing their own battle plans, Geithner called. In his usual impatient tone, he insisted that Blankfein immediately call Vikram Pandit, Citigroup's C.E.O., and begin merger discussions. Blankfein, surprised at the directness of the request, agreed he would place the call.
"Well, I guess you know why I'm calling," Blankfein said when he reached Pandit a few minutes later.
"No, I don't," Pandit replied with genuine puzzlement.
There was an awkward pause on the phone. Blankfein had assumed that the Fed had pre-arranged the call. "Well, I'm calling you because at least some people in the world might be thinking that combining our firms would be a good idea," he said.
After another few moments of uncomfortable silence Pandit finally replied, "I want you to know I'm flattered by this call."
Blankfein now began to wonder if Pandit was putting him on. "Well, Vikram," he said briskly, "I'm not calling with any flattery towards you in mind."
Geithner was by now seriously miffed. He had been trying to reach Pandit since eight in the morning and had just heard back from Blankfein, who had somehow actually managed to get through to Pandit again. The only problem was that Pandit had turned Goldman down, and Geithner hadn't even had a chance to speak with him.
Finally, he got through.
"I haven't been able to reach you for four hours," Geithner barked into the phone. "That's unacceptable on a day like today!"
Apologizing, Pandit explained that he had been talking to his team about the Goldman proposal, which they had ultimately rejected. "We're concerned about taking on Goldman," Pandit said, trying to explain his rationale for turning them down. "I don't need another trillion dollars on my balance sheet."
Geithner could only laugh to himself--Pandit should have been so lucky as to own Goldman. "This is a bank," Pandit said. "And a bank takes deposits and a bank has a prudency culture. I cannot envision a bank taking its deposits and investing them all in hedge funds. I know that's not what Goldman is, but the perception is that they'd be taking deposits and putting them to work against a proprietary trade. That can't be right philosophically!"