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Goldman Sachs Exec Exits With a Bang

Posted on Mar 14, 2012
AP / Mark Lennihan

New Yorkers walk to work outside the Goldman Sachs mothership in Manhattan.

We’re guessing that outgoing Goldman Sachs executive director Greg Smith’s last day on the job Wednesday was pretty awkward, given what he had to say about his employer in a scorching Op-Ed article printed in The New York Times for the occasion. Easy for the London-based trader to say after 12 years at the megafirm and untold millions made? Maybe, but here’s a look at what he tossed over his shoulder on his way out. 

And here’s some analysis the Times published simultaneously to put Smith’s salvo in a broader context. —KA

Greg Smith in The New York Times:

How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.

What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.

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By Maani, March 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment


Superb idea.  Like the “black deck” used in wartime (to identify the dead) or the one used by Iraqi soldiers to identify HVTs.  I don’t know how busy you are, but you really should begin working on it.  Not only is it a great idea, but you could probably make a few (legitimate, honest, justifiable) bucks doing it.  I would certainly buy one!


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By gerard, March 15, 2012 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

Greg Smith took a step in the right direction. That’s
good, especially since he “made” the NYT.
  But as to changing the system ....?  Well, that’s another whole sacred ball of wax that will take more than one guy just saying NO. But it’s a start.
  It would appear that the USA is not so good at systemic change. We prefer to treat symptoms, if at all. That way the bureaucracy can spin the same old narrative decade after decade and nobody’s the wiser, nobody has to actually DO anything. Just talk about it—but not too loud! And blame the other guy, if possible.
  When somebody really tries to change anythimg, the Wall Street Kings can’t get to Washington fast enough to put a stop to it.

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By aacme88, March 15, 2012 at 6:51 am Link to this comment

Maybe you haven’t heard that bribing government officials is no longer illegal. It’s the new system. That’s how we can assure that government does what the rich people want done. Clean and efficient.

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By mrfreeze, March 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment

My dear friends here on TD - You all know, of course, that Americans “admire” anyone who works on WS, speculates, “financializes,” “creates capital,” takes risks, “creates jobs.” You all know that there are plenty of (supposedly) educated people who read the op-ed piece today and fumed over the fact that someone showed the king with no clothes. I even heard an economist on NPR this morning saying, “heck, waiters call their customers jerks….why is this any different?” Yes, this is why we should trust economists…...anyway…..

And somewhere out there in America tonight, families have little “capitalism nativity” scenes in front of their TV’s as they watch Fox News or American Idol or whatever and pray to the demi gods: “Job Creator” “Quant-Majorus” (not to be confused with labia majorus) “Halliburtus” and “Apple-linneous.” Because in this here country, there is only one religion and it’s god is greed…..and greed is good…........yes….

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By oddsox, March 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

Time for the US Attorney’s office to file anti-trust action w/the DOJ.

Help SMALL business—break up the Big Banks.

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By IMax, March 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment

Bravo, Mr. Smith.  And, please, ignore those who find it all-too-easy to suggest you should have committed hari kari while employed at Goldman.


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By Jeff N., March 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

MeHere, that about sums up the Goldman Sachs hearings on the Abacus deal.

ardee, better late than never my friend. 

Morpheus yes this has all been said before, but not generally on the front page of NYTimes, and most certainly not from a Goldman Sachs executive.. Greed is no longer good!

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By MeHere, March 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

This former executive says “he doesn’t know of any illegal behavior.”  He may not have known everything that was going on, but the fact is that these companies invest in bribing legislators and government officials who make laws and regulations which turn essentially illegal behavior into legal business operations.

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By ardee, March 14, 2012 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

So, twelve years at Goldman and now he takes a moral position? Excuse me but I find him as phony as the democratic loyalists that infest this site ignoring all the cess within that organization too.

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By wtc7WillHauntYouForever, March 14, 2012 at 11:44 am Link to this comment

F@@K Goldman Sachs and the rich.

Here is an idea who’s time has come.

ONE PERCENTER Trading Cards.  That way we could see who it is that is fucking

You could have a deck for each major city.

Photo of Robber Baron.

How much money they have.

What industry they are in.

How much money they make, per hour, per minute.

How many houses they have and how big they are.

Their favorite restaurants.

What kind of Jet they have and how much it costs.

What their extravagant indulgences are.

How truly uncharitable they are.

What city they live in and in what neighborhood.

Maybe even publish their addresses.


This way we can focus on the individuals who are the beneficiaries of this
fucked up system and are the ones who can change it if they choose to.

It is a global class war.  Show everyone who the enemy is.

(you can use the Fortune 400 as a reference)

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By Morpheus, March 14, 2012 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

Is he really saying anything that we don’t already know?

Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( )

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