Courtesy of Pam Martens.
On April 5, 2010, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi famously depicted Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” But if last week’s performance by its human relations department is any guide, the great vampire squid is flailing around in quicksand.
No one in the legal or HR department at Goldman Sachs has apparently ever heard the phrase, if you’re in a hole, stop digging. With Goldman whistleblower Greg Smith’s book, Why I Left Goldman Sachs, set to launch today and his highly anticipated appearance last night on CBS News’ 60-Minutes (typically watched by 13 million viewers), one would have expected Goldman to hire a sophisticated crisis management firm imbued with some tiny inkling of just how repugnant it and its colleagues on Wall Street are to the average American. Given that reality, a measured response to Smith’s claims with some shred of credibility should have been de rigueur.
Greg Smith is the Goldman Sachs VP who tendered his resignation after 12 years with the firm on March 14, 2012 via the oped page of the New York Times, famously lamenting “how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets.’ ” The muppets phrase instantly morphed into comedic internet memes, including this catchy reworking of lyrics by former Wall Street veteran and law professor Frank Partnoy. Smith repeated his assertions last evening on 60 Minutes, with poise and conviction.
Last week, instead of a measured response, Goldman went toe to toe with Morgan Stanley as a contender for the worst crisis management response in the history of Wall Street employee scandals. Goldman Sachs released to the media portions of Greg Smith’s personnel files, including “Smith’s self-evaluations” and “internal e-mails” related to his evaluations, according to Bloomberg News. One veteran reporter said incredulously to me: “Is that even legal”?