Which is why this story-- Maybe Goldman Sachs Will Make It's Employees Give Money To Charity, Maybe It Wont, It's All Relative-- was leaked to the media. Here's the rub: as you may have noticed, Goldman's had a tough go it lately, PR-wise. They've adopted kittens, they've let the first known instance of an apology pass their lips, they've touched actual garbage, all in the name of getting everyone to shut the hell up with the Goldman hate. And yet the bitching and the moaning and the "Hey mister, those Swarovski crystals you're about to have applied to your balls were paid for by the American taxpayer" continue apace. And now it's not just coming from the plebes, who can for the most part be written off as people who don't know what they're talking about, it's coming from shareholders, too. Since it's most likely only going to get worse when the bank backs up the bonus truck, here's what GS is considering: what would you think of Lloyd and Co being forced, publicly of course, to give money to charity? They used to do something like this at Bear Stearns, and while Goldman tends to avoid adopting any idea devised by two guys hot-boxing an air shaft,* this one seems like it might have legs.
While the details of the latest charity initiative are still under discussion, the firm's executives have been looking at expanding their current charitable requirements for months and trying to understand whether such gestures would damp public anger over pay, according to a person familiar with the matter who did not want to be identified because of the delicacy of the pay issue. The charity idea would be similar to a decades-long program at the failed investment bank Bear Stearns, which required more than 1,000 of its top workers to give 4 percent of their pay to charity each year and then checked their tax returns to ensure compliance.
Assuming a similar percentage and level of participation, that would mean Goldman's top employees would commit to giving hundreds of millions of dollars to charity, though the precise amount would depend on the level of contributions and the number of workers who are required to take part.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let us know honestly-- would it do any good? Because if there's no mileage to get out of it, you can forget it. To that end, let's get some brainstorming going. If not this, what would get Goldman back in your good graces, or at least closer on the spectrum to nuzzling Lloyd's scrot than taking a nine iron to it? How about, instead of just signing a check to charity, what if every employee was assigned a buddy, and had to serve as their butler for one year, doing whatever his/her "master" wanted, no questions asked. Need your thoughts on this one.
Update: Based on this great idea, how about just a Boys of Goldman Calendar? Bald is beautiful. And Lloyd has always loved the idea of posing like a fireman.
*I'm kidding, that exactly how they came up with the idea to initiate a buddy system between the prime brokerage and prop desk in order to facilitate front running of clients. As Lloyd says, sometimes you need to "open" your mind to see what's right in front of you.