How tough is it to be a Goldman Sachs banker these days? Despite the record-breaking profits and unprecedented employee compensation, we learn from Bethany McLean's lengthy profile of the company in Vanity Fair that "there is an embattled feeling about the place," according to one person "who knows the firm well."
How embattled? Bloomberg columnist Alice Shroeder passes on some hearsay: Goldman bankers are stocking up on ammo!
"I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit," said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.
The "senior Goldman people" may be spending too much time trolling the Internet. If you read the comments posted after just about any blog item or feature article referencing Goldman, the venom expressed would surely lead you to imagine that a mob armed with pitchforks and torches was already on their way to Goldman headquarters. It's a bipartisan frenzy, and as Goldman profits continue to accumulate while the economic slump persists, the bile will continue to percolate.
But spare us the "embattlement" syndrome. A foreclosure notice or a pink slip engenders a siege mentality for good reason. Bad press, when you are making as much money as Goldman employees do, is collateral damage that hardly nicks the paint job on a Bentley.