In Defense of Goldman Sachs

As the Senate investigates fraud, two defenders come out against the unanimous bile leveled against Goldman.

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In case you hadn't noticed, Goldman Sachs is short on friends. Since raking in billions in revenue--$11.4 billion of which was set aside for employee bonuses--everyone from the blustery Matt Taibbi to the prosecutorial Joe Hagan to the dryly skewering Michael Lewis has been piling on the storied, superhuman bank. Now, to make matters worse, Senate plans to investigate the firm for fraud have been leaked.

Two defenders, however, have stood against the rising tide of resentment. Their critiques have less to do with loving Goldman than with arguing, as people did months ago, that getting carried away with anger could be self-destructive.

Jonathan Weil takes this tack in Bloomberg, writing that "bashing banker bonuses has swerved into dangerous territory." The push for regulation is at risk of going too far:

"It’s one thing to curse Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for setting aside $11.4 billion, or 49 percent of its revenue, for employee compensation during the first half of this year....Somehow that reasonable, if mildly populist, message must have spun out of control"

We're in danger, he says, of hurting small companies:

"There has been little demand for lawmakers to respond by subjecting every pint-sized financial institution’s pay practices to government review...The government shouldn’t overreact to its own gross negligence by imposing systemic-risk controls on companies that don’t pose systemic risk."

Over at the Big Money, Heidi N. Moore makes a more active defense of Goldman Sachs. She tells critics "enough already," arguing that if the company were so nefarious, they'd be a lot better at running the world:

"If you believe that Goldman Sachs has designed the kind of devastating hive mind that can control any institution it touches, including the U.S. government, you also have to explain why Goldman Sachs alums have a history of not functioning terribly well outside of Goldman."

She credits this lack to the debate-driven corporate culture of Goldman, which makes it impossible for alums to to operate without it:

"You can see why Goldman alums sometimes don't do very impressively once they leave Goldman. They find themselves in positions where no one questions their premises and it's hard to get good feedback and pushback...Outside of the Goldman womb of debate and ideas, bankers and traders lack perspective."

Perspective notwithstanding, the one place Goldman may have no shortage of friends--as Matt Taibbi and other critics allege--is government.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.