The Financial Times’ U.S. national editor had lunch with Lloyd Blankfein recently. He would like you to know that this was notable. Not, of course, because it was at the Porter House; after all, Blankfein lives just up the block from the Time Warner Center. No because he was really letting himself go in his retirement, having a glass of Pinot Noir with the bacon Bibb salad he “dispatches… with gusto” and the medium-rare filet mignon he “demolished.” No, it’s because, according to Edward Luce, Blankfein has been “avoiding the media” and “keeping a low profile” since stepping down from Goldman Sachs a year and a half ago. Which may fairly come as a surprise to anyone on Twitter. What will not come as a surprise to those people is what he wanted to talk about.
I mention that Sanders is now favourite to be the nominee. Blankfein does a mock frown…. “I think I might find it harder to vote for Bernie than for Trump,” he says. “There’s a long time between now and then. The Democrats would be working very hard to find someone who is as divisive as Trump. But with Bernie they would have succeeded….”
“I don’t like assassination by categorisation. I think it’s un-American. I find that destructive and intemperate. I find that just as subversive of the American character as someone like Trump who denigrates groups of people who he has never met. At least Trump cares about the economy.”
If ever there was a statement that said more about the speaker than the subject, that’s it.
“Look, I am a Democrat, but they said those things in a shrill way to raise the stakes on the outcome,” Blankfein says. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable or cynical for a legislator to have said that what Trump did was wrong, and showed bad character, but it was not at a level where we’re going to overturn an election nine months before the next one….”
“Look, it’s crazy not to acknowledge the economy has expanded under Trump,” Blankfein says. “Some of this is related to tax reform. The cheapest stimulus is getting rid of dopey regulations [including on Wall Street]. All I’m saying is that Democrats would have a far stronger case if they conceded what was good.”
I think we can all agree that he certainly sounds like a Democrat. Anything else you’d like to say, person worth $1.1 billion?
“I can’t imagine how all this is going to come out when you publish,” he says, looking fleetingly concerned…. Blankfein insists he is “well-to-do”, not rich. “I can’t even say ‘rich’,” he insists. “I don’t feel that way. I don’t behave that way.” He says he has an apartment in Miami as well as New York. But he abjures most of the trappings. “If I bought a Ferrari, I’d be worried about it getting scratched,” he jokes.
I think it would be best for all involved if Lloyd went back to pretending to keep a low profile and avoiding the media.