SINGAPORE (Nov 12): Lloyd Blankfein, who stepped down as CEO of Goldman Sachs at the end of September, once said in an interview with London’s The Sunday Times that banks serve a social purpose and are doing “God’s work”. The way Blankfein saw it, “We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth.”
In the same interview, which was published in November 2009, only a year after Lehman Brothers had collapsed and the whole world had plunged into a massive financial crisis, Blankfein also defended plans by Goldman Sachs at the time to pay more than US$20 billion in bonuses. “[Other banks] made no money and still paid large bonuses. Some are not around anymore. I wonder why?”
Blankfein was, of course, well aware of the hostile sentiment at the time towards bankers and their off-the-rails risk-taking that had tanked the global economy. “I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer,” he said, in the interview. Even today, with the global financial crisis an increasingly distant memory, many people might still find it hard to swallow the idea of Goldman Sachs being an agent of God.