By now you've likely heard the news: you can no longer say that Goldman Sachs is evil, because Lloyd Blankfein and Co. are merely doing the big guy's bidding. Actually, that's not true: you can call the Masters of the Universe sinners all you want but do so at your own peril, knowing full well that you're fucking with The BG. Take this latest profile from the Times Online. You can see God's hand in the whole thing. Obviously not just in the insistence that Goldman is basically a charitable organization whose first and foremost interest is to serve society but also in the jokes. It's clear that God and Blankfein were discussing the upcoming story and the BG suggested going with the self-deprecation. "Be overly sarcastic. Take the shit they've been saying about us and then advance the joke," Blankfein's boss counseled. "Hide what we're doing in plain sight; make them seem like the crazy ones and you'll have them up against a wall. There'll be no arguing." For example:
The talk that inside 85 Broad, the MoTU plot to bring modern society to its knees.
"Aha! You catch us plotting in real time," says Lloyd Blankfein, breaking away from a cabal of senior executives discussing his trip to Washington the previous day. Blankfein, 55, Goldman's chairman and chief executive, is wearing a grey suit with a jaunty Hermès tie with little red bicycles on it. In his hand, he's carrying one of those cups of coffee that look bigger than the human stomach. Maybe it's the caffeine, maybe it's the tie -- a birthday present from his daughter -- but he's in a remarkably jolly mood for a man everyone seems to hate. "It's like a safari here," he jokes. "You've come in to look at the animals."
And that stuff about killing adorable animals, endangered or otherwise, sucking out their essence and using it as a source of power.
Goldman is the biggest user of voicemail in the world. The "mind bullets" consist of anything from the latest profit and loss figures, to reports of what the chief executives of key clients have told Blankfein and his top team over lunch, to instructions to "switch off on holiday, for goodness sake." No calls to meet in the basement to club baby seals to death first thing in the morning to get in the mood for a hard day's banking? "God, no," one staffer says wryly. "We don't club baby seals. We club babies."
And the most hilarious "urban legend" of them all.
The idea of teamwork goes right to the top. Goldman may not be a private partnership any more -- it went public a decade ago -- but the bosses work hard to foster a "we're in this together", family-style approach. Others say it feels more like a cult, but they mean it as a compliment. Some of its practices make perfect sense. Bonuses, for example, are not based on personal performance, as they are at many banks, but on the performance of the firm as a whole, and partners receive a sizable chunk of their remuneration in stock that they cannot sell until they leave the firm. It weeds out what Dina Powell, 36, the firecracker Egyptian-American boss of Goldman's philanthropic arm, calls "egomaniac jerks" who might be tempted to bet the farm on red in the hope of skewering a bigger bonus.