Goldman AgonistesS

The New York Times has identified the source of Goldman Sach's image troubles—it used to be a hip bank, one that really cared about the banking, you know? Now all they care about is money. Sellouts.

The Times' Jenny Anderson talked to 20 current and former Goldman partners about why everyone hates Goldman Sachs, and the answer seems to be that CEO Lloyd Blankfein cares too much about making a profit, which is like saying that Courtney Love now cares too much about drugs. It is self-evidently true, and kind of the point.

[S]ome current and former Goldman executives say Mr. Blankfein has built a money machine that, while it still values its customers, culture and reputation, puts profits above all.

Banks are temples to money that exist for precisely no other reason than to put profits above all to the extent that the law allows. That is what a bank is! A bank is a thing that puts profits above all. The tragedy of Goldman is that it departed from its legacy of devoting itself exclusively to delivering hot meals to shut-ins and started caring about the accumulation of money right at the height of the financial collapse, and its success in leveraging billions of taxpayer dollars into profits for the firm's partners has made some people angry. You've changed, Goldman.

Bankers who once spent years cultivating corporate clients in hopes of one day landing lucrative work like advising on a big merger, are now being urged to squeeze more revenue from their customers.

This isn't the first time we've heard that Goldman has an untoward fixation on profits. Vanity Fair's December profile of Blankfein hits the same notes:

The rise of Lloyd Blankfein, who took over as C.E.O. in 2006, is in part a testament to the inexorable creep of the power of money at Goldman Sachs.

[snip]

Internally, Blankfein is viewed as extremely "commercial," which means, in Goldman parlance, having a talent for making money.

In Goldman parlance, anyone who is not extremely "commercial" is also known as "fired." In Goldman parlance, "the inexorable creep of the power of money" is also known as "the passage of chronological time."

Goldman's problems don't stem from the fact that it cares too much about money. They stem from the fact that in a matter of days they are going to disburse to their already obscenely rich employees more than $17 billion that they harvested from a massive bailout financed by taxpayers. It's not that they care about money too much that generates resentment; it's where they got the money. From us.

Which causes even their own families to hate them:

A few months ago, at a meeting of Goldman's in-house leadership program, known as the Pine Street Group, the bank's image came up. The group of 30-odd people wrestled with questions like how to talk to family members about Goldman and its role in the financial world.

Shouldn't there a book out there for something like this? My Daddy's a Banker: How to Break It to Your Children That All You Care About is Money.