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Wednesday
Jan062010

The Bank Job -- Goldman's Vanity Fair Blowfile

Goldman Sachs C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein and C.O.O. Gary Cohn, in the boardroom of Goldman’s headquarters, in New York City. Cohn “was always Lloyd’s guy. I mean, always,” says a former Goldman trader. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.One of the biggest disconnects on Wall Street today is between the way Goldman Sachs sees itself (they’re the smartest) and the way everyone else sees Goldman (they’re the smartest, greediest, and most dangerous).  Questioning C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein, C.O.O. Gary Cohn, and C.F.O. David Viniar, among others, the author explores how their firm navigated the collapse of September 2008, why it has already set aside $16.7 billion for compensation this year, and which lines it’s accused of crossing.

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Lloyd Blankfein—who was born poor in the South Bronx, put himself through Harvard, and became the C.E.O. of Goldman Sachs in 2006, after 24 years at the firm—is a history buff, a lawyer, a wordsmith, and something of an armchair philosopher. On a Thursday in October—the very day when the firm announced it had made $8.4 billion in profits so far this year—he speculates whether Goldman would have survived the financial conflagration in the fall of 2008 entirely on its own, without any kind of help, implicit or explicit, from the government. “I thought we would, but it was a hell of a higher risk than I was happy with,” he says, sitting in his 30th-floor office in Goldman’s old headquarters, at 85 Broad Street, in Lower Manhattan. “As a result of actions taken [by the government], we were better off than we otherwise would have been. Was it dispositive? I don’t know. I don’t think so … but I don’t know.”

He adds, “If you ask, in my heart of hearts, do I think we would have failed … ” He pauses, then pulls out his trump card: at the height of the crisis, Warren Buffett agreed to invest $5 billion in Goldman Sachs.

Continue reading at Vanity Fair >>


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