For the record I did NOT speak to the NY Times about the Goldman retired Partner meeting that was held last week that I attended, but I was the one that asked Lloyd the question that is the subject of the cover page story in the NY Times today. “As CEO of Goldman Sachs, what do you want your legacy to be?” Mr. Blankfein had a long, thoughtful and very good answer. The Times did get it right in saying that “he, like his predecessors, hoped to position Goldman Sachs to capitalize on whatever opportunities might arise during his tenure.” He went on to talk a lot more about it but since those meetings are off the record, as they should be, I cannot add to what was reported.
The article talks about the growing importance of trading and in my opinion, yes it is true, and has been for some time. It is debatable whether it is a good or bad thing. With respect to the question of being long term verus short term greedy, I personally think greedy is just not a good thing period. Greed is out GOOD is in, and Wall Street needs to embrace this big shift. As I said on CNN monday morning speaking to the changes that need to and should happen in financial services, we need firms like Goldman to ever increasingly use their knowledge, their insights, their resources, and some of their profits to help build a strong domestic and global economy. The price they should pay for growing to be so big to be big too fail, is a certain amount of responsibility for the overall economic and financial system. This is a new world where the strong need to help the weak and much will be asked and expected of the strong. Many have tried to put numbers around how much GS benefited from government programs, and that number is impossible to come up with, but clearly the public thinks it is bigger then Goldman does and wants a good chunk of it back. If I were running the firm, given how well GS is doing and the tremendous needs out there particularly around job creation, I would be pulling out all the stops to continue to come up with some good, fundable and impactful ideas. I wrote about a Virtue Fund a few weeks ago, and I still really like the concept!