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Michael Lewis: "The World Would Be Better Off Without Goldman Sachs" And Their Kind

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When one is a best-selling author of many popular books and can work at his leisure, he is afforded the time to marinade on things that tick him off. Whereas others must let life's annoyances roll off their backs rather than spending hours on end working themselves into a lather over, say, the guy who cut them off in the parking lot this morning, the barista who put too much foam in his vanilla bullshit latte cappa thing or the thieving investment bank downtown, this person has the inclination and the free afternoons to think about the stuff that's pissing him off. Today we find out that a couple of things have been sticking in Michael Lewis's craw. First, off there's the leeches at Goldman Sachs. Sayeth Mike:

"The world would be better off without Goldman Sachs, and I don’t think it is just Goldman Sachs the world would better off without. If you waved a wand and wiped out Goldman Sachs, someone would step in and occupy that place. I think the world would be better off without the idea that Goldman Sachs embodies, which is that financial manipulation is a legitimate way to get really rich. If you look at the story of Goldman Sachs in the last six or seven years, you’ll see that they made an awful lot of money getting people to do stuff that never should have been done."

Bothersome, really bothersome, yes, but not something he'll have to worry about much longer, as the Oracle predicted back in June that Goldman is doomed and it's only a matter of time before they shutter that dump. What has really been riling Lewis is a little thing in Greece called the Acropolis and its utter mismanagement. So poorly is it run that Lewis knows of a former businessman-cum-writer who could do a better job with the place if someone thought to ask.

"The problem with the Acropolis is that they don’t manage the flow of people onto it. You get up there and the only thing you can see is the back of the head of the person who is taking the picture in front of you. And you can’t hear anything but the person behind you screaming to get out of the way because you’re standing in the way of their picture. There is no enjoying the Acropolis. It’s horrible. So if I owned it, I would start by rationing access to it and charging higher prices. I would also have an affirmative-action program where Greeks get in cheaply. I would make it more of a special event to get to the top of the Acropolis and wander around. I would have up-market tour guides, people who were experts in ancient Greece and in that site. It would be a privilege to go to the Acropolis rather than a right. I’m not sure I would make it a money thing. I want people to be able to earn their way up there. If they could demonstrate a proven interest."


Goldman Sachs Can Fix This

A week ago today, a man named Greg Smith resigned from Goldman Sachs. As a sort of exit interview, Smith explained his reasons for departing the firm in a New York Times Op-Ed entitled "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs." The equity derivatives VP wrote that Goldman had "veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say I identify with what it stands for." Smith went on to note that whereas the Goldman of today is "just about making money," the Goldman he knew as a young pup "revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients." It was a culture that made him "love working for the firm" and its absence had stripped him of "pride and belief" he once held in the place. While claiming that Goldman Sachs has become virtually unrecognizable from the institution founded by Marcus (Goldman) and Samuel (Sachs), which put clients ahead of its own interests, is hardly a new argument, there was something about Smith's words that gave readers a moment's pause. He was so deeply distraught over the differences between the Goldman of 2012 and the Goldman of 2000 (when he was hired) that suggested...more. That he'd seen things. Things that had made an imprint on his soul. Things that he couldn't forget. Things that he held up in his heart for how Goldman should be and things that made it all the more difficult to ignore when it failed to live up to that ideal. Things like this: