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Lloyd Blankfein On President Trump: "Okay, Sure, Whatevs"

Goldman's CEO now treating The Donald with an optimistic ambivalence.
getty images

getty images

It's been a few weeks since the election of Donald J. Trump, and the news has been rife with hot takes about Goldman Sachs "returning" to government work (which, hahaha), but the guy running the place has been pretty vanilla when talking about what he thinks about the looming reign of El Trump.

In fact, what Lloyd Blankfein has said about Trump in public so far can best be summed up by a shrug emoji. His memo to staff after the election essentially said "So that happened, call your clients." He appeared at the DealBook conference and played it so close to the vest that the most reported comment he made was his obvious life pledge to the #DraftDimon movement. Overall, Lloyd has affected the air of a man who openly voted for Hillary but accepts the outcome and hopes President Trump is good for business.

But he has hardly been pressed on the issue, at least until he sat down with Handelsblatt and fielded what appear to be the most incisive questions that he has been asked about Trump since election day:

Contrary to fears in Europe, Donald Trump will not be a “dangerous” U.S. president, said Lloyd Blankfein, the president and chief executive of America’s second-largest investment bank, Goldman Sachs, in an exclusive interview with Handelsblatt.
Asked whether Mr. Trump, who has proposed building a wall along the Mexican border and stopping the flow of Muslims into the United States, would be “dangerous,” the 62-year-old Mr. Blankfein sounded confident that Mr. Trump, despite his rhetoric, will be a pragmatic leader.

Aha, so Lloyd has shifted from willful ambiguity to optimistic ambivalence? Cool.

“I don’t think so,” Mr. Blankfein, who supported Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said in an interview earlier this month at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin. “He’s a very smart guy, a businessman…I am not pessimistic at all because he won.”
As an investment bank, Goldman Sachs is in the risk-management business, Mr. Blankfein said, and Ms. Clinton, a known quantity, was a more easy choice for financiers like him. But “Mr. Trump may turn out to be a much better president than anyone else might have been in that place,’’ he added. “He’s just less of a known quantity as a politician.”

And what about Trump making Lloyd the literal face of Wall Street greed and evil?

Mr. Blankfein said the remarks didn’t bother him: “That was the rhetoric in the heat of the political battle; I didn’t take this personally,’’ he said. “It wasn’t specifically limited to Donald Trump; it also came from the Democratic side. When people think of finance, they think of banks, mostly investment banks, and to some extent, Goldman Sachs. This is sometimes favorable to us and sometimes a burden.’’

Besides, Lloyd knows that people are mad at banks and he ain't about that "Wall Street Crusader" life:

“We were in a bad place because the industry failed at one of its most important purposes, which was to provide stability and to do things the right way,’’ Mr. Blankfein said. “I’m not the representative of the entire industry or its apologist.’’

LOL, right? You guys let Jamie handle that crap.

Lloyd also told Handelsblatt that he thinks Trump will accelerate the destruction of the Volcker Rule, stimulate the economy with gusto and generally just put making money at the top of his agenda. He even answered an oft-ignored question that Goldman CEOs are loathe to discuss.

Mr. Blankfein said he would consider being part of a Trump administration, but stressed no one had reached out to him, and he didn’t expect anyone to do so.

We are more than a little fascinated by what Gary Cohn thought upon reading that gem.

Goldman Sachs CEO: Trump Not a Dangerous President [Handelsblatt]



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