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Goldman CEO Blankfein warns against risk of good times

Earns Goldman Sachs

Richard Drew/AP

The price of Goldman Sachs stock is shown at a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. CEO Lloyd Blankfein recently gave a revealing (sort of) interview to Bloomberg.

You heard it here first, folks! Well, actually, you heard it from Bloomberg (and I did via Naked Capitalism). The news service did a sit-down with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein in which the Vampire Squid King delved into Goldman's various businesses and potential conflicts, in the aftermath of Greg Smith's notorious "Muppets" op-ed in the New York Times. 

(By the way, he thinks the whole "Vampire Squid" thing is hyperbole. That awkwardly suggests that while Goldman doesn't deserve to be called a Vampire Squid — in Matt Taibbi's infamous phrasing — it could perhaps be compared to a lesser cephalopod, perhaps a cuttlefish or adolescent octopus.)

Stay tuned until the end of the clip (see below), when Lloyd smartly notes that there's a disconnect between gloomy economists and more optimistic market people, such as...Lloyd Blankfein! He wryly asks us to look past the pundits who paint gloom-and-doom scenarios when, in fact, 90 percent of the time the situation actually improves. Then he suggests that we avoid getting distracted by the risk of things going wrong and focus on the risk of things...going right!

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Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and gay marriage: Why not?

This was unexpected news! It turns out that Goldman Sachs embattled, controversial CEO Lloyd Blankfein is a supporter of same-sex marriage. Now he's recorded a short video for Human Rights Campaign, an organization that, according to DealBook, has "persuaded" him to be its "first national corporate spokesman for same-sex marriage." 

Susanne Craig, the NYTimes writer, goes on to express what many were probably already thinking:

[T]he campaign is sure to turn heads on Wall Street, which despite having made progress on equality issues over the last decade, is still considered to be a male-dominated, testosterone-driven place.

But if you thought Blankfein was emblematic of that culture...well, you were wrong:

Behind the scenes, Mr. Blankfein has long been a supporter of same-sex marriage. Last year, he signed a letter urging state lawmakers to vote for a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and encouraged other chief executives to do the same. He also called lawmakers directly on the matter. The New York Legislature passed the law last summer.

Under Mr. Blankfein’s guidance, Goldman has also pushed employment policies that promote equality. It reimburses employees for the extra taxes they pay on domestic partner benefits. In 2002, the company made headlines for offering gender reassignment operations to employees.

[...]

The Human Rights Campaign approached Mr. Blankfein in November through a gay executive at Goldman, and he was immediately receptive to the idea, according to people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly. As part of a national effort, Mr. Blankfein, wearing a crisp white shirt and red-patterned tie, appears in 32-second Web spot intended to drum up support and donations.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about Goldman Sachs

Well, since Lloyd Blankfein became CEO, anyway, and the financial crisis began to seriously mess with the legendary investment bank's magical, mystical fortunes.

This e-book on Goldman Sachs from Reuters BreakingViews just landed in my in-box. It's free and it's a quick and extremely informative read, a collection of five years' worth of columns.

Very good stuff on Goldman culture, Goldman envy, Goldman hating, Goldman compensation (not as much money as you might think), and the big changes that the firm has faced since the financial crisis.

This is from Anthony Currie's introduction:

The articles selected for this book chronicle Goldman’s bumpy ride underBlankfein over the last ?ve years from virtually untouchable to basicallyunremarkable. It might even be a candidate for a breakup. Of course, Goldman has been here before. The question is not just whether Goldmancan rise again, but whether in the face of a new regulatory regime it can do sowithout a change to its corporate structure – and perhaps its management.

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