Goldman Sachs and "God's work"

CEO Lloyd Blankfein defends the Goldman business model -- and warns that if his bank goes down, so does everybody

Published November 9, 2009 3:16PM (EST)

The headline of a very long story about Goldman Sachs and its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein in the London Times is calculated to provoke: "I'm doing 'God's Work.' Meet Mr. Goldman Sachs."

The passage evokes memory of last week's outburst by banking executives defending the Christian righteousness of profits.

So, it's business as usual, then, regardless of whether it makes most people howl at the moon with rage? Goldman Sachs, this pillar of the free market, breeder of super-citizens, object of envy and awe will go on raking it in, getting richer than God? An impish grin spreads across Blankfein's face. Call him a fat cat who mocks the public. Call him wicked. Call him what you will. He is, he says, just a banker "doing God's work"

But that's hardly the most inflammatory section in John Arlidge's piece. Far more disturbing than the call to a higher authority is Blankfein's dark twist on the old "what's good for General Motors is good for the United States" theme.

Does Blankfein not acknowledge that it is maddening for most of us to watch Goldman gobble up so much cash while we struggle? Quite the opposite. He insists we should be celebrating his bank's success, not condemning it. "Everybody should be, frankly, happy," he says. Can he be serious? Deadly. Goldman's performance, he argues, is the firmest indication of a nascent economic recovery that will benefit not just him and his firm but all of us. "The financial system led us into the crisis and it will lead us out."

... "I've got news for you," he shoots back, eyes narrowing. "If the financial system goes down, our business is going down and, trust me, yours and everyone else's is going down, too."

Let us make as much money as God, in other words, or else.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

MORE FROM Andrew Leonard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bank Bailouts Bolivia Goldman Sachs How The World Works Valentines Day Wall Street