As President Trump continues his surreal spate of executive orders, each one more brazen and mind-numbing than the last, the nation isn't exactly turning its lonely eyes to Lloyd Blankfein. But for the many Goldman Sachs employees out there, including those of foreign birth, it must have been clarifying to receive a voicemail from the CEO Monday expressing his displeasure with Trump's travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations.
“This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily,” Blankfein told his employees. “If the order were to become or remain effective, I recognize that there is potential for disruption to the firm, and especially to some of our people and their families.”
Not much ambiguity there. Compare, however, with JPMorgan's message to its staff, cosigned by Jamie Dimon:
“In light of recent executive orders in the United States regarding immigration policy, we want every one of you to know of our unwavering commitment to the dedicated people working here at JPMorgan Chase,” a letter to employees read, according to Business Insider. “This includes a number of our outstanding employees — all of whom have adhered to our country's immigration and employment processes — who have come to the United States to serve our company, clients and communities.”
Concern? Sure. Opposition? Not really.
We shouldn't treat these kinds of memos as official statements, exactly. But they are expected to leak to the public. It's no surprise they're written in the same starched-white PR-speak as a quarterly earnings letter. That said, we've yet to see anything from Brian Moynihan or Michael Corbat. UPDATE: Corbat sent a memo to employees saying he was “concerned about the message the executive order sends, as well as the impact immigration policies could have on our ability to serve our clients and contribute to growth.”
But before we go holding up Blankfein as some kind of industry maverick, it's worth considering the advantage he has over his peers – namely the gaggle of former Goldmanites currently inhabiting the halls of the White House. There are so many Goldman alums in the Trump administration that executives are calling current partners just to get through to POTUS. Gary Cohn, formerly Lloyd's BFF and second-in-command, has Trump's ear. Here he is, in fact, at the travel ban signing:
This isn't to say that absent these well-placed public servants Goldman would have rolled over on the travel ban. But the plum appointments do give Lloyd a little more leeway when it comes to political pronouncements – not that he's going to admit it.