Goldman Sachs and the Galactic Empire from Star Wars. Mirror images in so many ways

Greg Smith is resigning today as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of the firm’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  On the way out the door, he penned a little self-congratulatory op-ed for the NY Times, titled “Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs” about how Goldman has lost the plot and is no longer a great place to work after twelve years of service with the firm.  One would have thought that as a senior executive with the firm, responsible for hiring and mentoring new talent, that he’d be in a position to do something about that.  I’m just sayin.

The internet being what it is, there is already a parody of this letter out there on The Daily Mash.  “Why I am leaving the Empire” by Darth Vader.  It’s spot on, too.

Read the Smith op-ed.  It’s got some important points, but I think the most important feature, once one gets over the holier than thou moralizing and the self-reverential bragging is that an insider just confirmed what everybody else has known or suspected for a while now.  The Vader op-ed, conversely, reveals a deeply thoughtful individual who has matured greatly from the whiny bratty teenager of  episodes II and III.

UPDATE: Andy Borowitz has the reply letter from Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein (also a parody).

Open thread, while we’re at it.

 

 

53 replies
  1. 1
    kindness says:

    Republicans don’t remind me of Star Wars so much as Space Balls at this point. The Farce is strong with them.

  2. 2
    Face says:

    Can somebody named Obi Wan Kenobi really not have any Asian heritage?

  3. 3
    c u n d gulag says:

    HOLY SH*T!

    Why, the whole culture must have completely changed there in the last few days!

    Why else, if this was happening before that, didn’t his tender conscience make him quit earlier?

    Outside of the fact that he probably didn’t have enough money socked-away yet to quit, and never have to work again!

    Still, it’s nice that as he’s leaving, and, instead of saying “Thanks for all the fish!”, he’s giving his former employers, the ones who made him wealthy, the middle finger, and a hearty “F*CK YOU!”.

    ‘It’s a small step for a greedy men, but may be a huge leap for mankind!’

    Now, after a day or two, will anyone notice and remember?

  4. 4
    Josh G. says:

    Well, the difference is that Darth Vader was (at least in the last film) a sympathetic character.

  5. 5
    Rathskeller says:

    I left Goldman Sachs in the 90s (VP, derivatives), so obviously I agree that it wasn’t a place to stay at. But much in this letter is off-putting and self-congratulatory. Without denying the likely truth of every thing he’s saying, I think it’s also true that this is a classic disgruntled employee, who did not play an essential role, and who could not have gone any higher in the organization.

    I also think it’s more like he stood in the hallway next to the room while other people made decisions that he eventually disagreed with.

  6. 6
    Rosalita says:

    I’d say this guy is more like the evil Emporer.

  7. 7
    redshirt says:

    It’s always fun trying to establish an evil Galactic Empire. Not so much fun to manage it.

  8. 8
    Mino says:

    And guess who they recently hired for a corner office?? An original wrecker from Bear Stearns.

  9. 9
    starscream says:

    This is so poorly written.

  10. 10
    maurinsky says:

    I feel kind of sorry for this kid. 12 years is not a long time, he must have been starry eyed when he started and oblivious as he rose through the ranks.

  11. 11
    RareSanity says:

    Annnd begin the Wall St. smear machine in 5…4…3…

    The yahoos on CNBC are going to have a field day calling this guy everything from Benedict Arnold, to hack, to rat….

  12. 12
    MattF says:

    Funny thing just happened. I was trying to google the bit in Michael Lewis’ ‘The Big Short’ where Steve Eisner was negotiating with an unnamed financial institution (almost certainly Goldman). The conversation Lewis reported:

    Eisner: I know you’re going to fuck me over, I just want to know how.
    Bankster: Oh, no, no, you’re our client, we wouldn’t do that.
    Eisner: Then it’s no deal.
    Bankster: Well, if you insist…

    So I googled “lewis eisner goldman screw” but didn’t get any hits. But then I tried “lewis eisner goldman fuck” and I got lots of good Goldman hits.

  13. 13
    Schlemizel says:

    The two links to parody are worth the trip – THANKS!

  14. 14
    BGinCHI says:

    Jump. You. Fuckers.

  15. 15
    Roger Moore says:

    Plus, you know, the bonuses aren’t what they used to be.

  16. 16
    Ben Cisco says:

    The Faux Snooze chryon will ID him with a (D). Bet on it.

  17. 17
    JPL says:

    The opinion piece did nothing for me. If one doesn’t understand free enterprise in our country, that’s a plus for these folks. It’s been a long time since you could look at investment banks with high esteem. Call me a cynic if you must.

  18. 18
    Culture of Truth says:

    See, the trouble with any info from a former insider at GS is always coming to be that it comes from… a fomer insider at GS.

  19. 19
    BigSouthern says:

    I guess I understand why NYT published this – it fits with the investigative depth and seriousness they gave the whole financial crisis – but I’ll really be impressed if they make this a recurring feature. Next week have some pissed off temp pen an angry missive and the week after that a paralegal writes about leaving to go on tour with her band for the summer, that kind of stuff.

  20. 20
    PeakVT says:

    Felix Salmon riffs on Smith’s piece.

  21. 21
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    As I read Smith’s op-ed, my initial thought was that he was courageous to write it. I but as I read on, especially as he outlined his influence in hiring new analysts, I thought, he’s got as much to do with it as the people he’s excoriating. Poster boy for recruiting, executive director, etc., and acting like he had no influence on the culture. He didn’t mention what steps he took to try to reverse the trajectory of the firm’s culture. And his little brag about how he was a Rhodes finalist, a ping-pong medalist in Israel, makes me want to puke. Lots talk about “doing the right thing”, but I didn’t get much of a sense he tried to do that.

  22. 22
    RareSanity says:

    @Howlin Wolfe:

    I got the same thing.

    It’s pretty amazing how the whole tone of this piece changed from interesting, to nauseating, the instant you clicked to page 2.

  23. 23
    cat says:

    What do I have to do to get my resignation letter published in the NYT?

    Seriously, WTF do these people think they are that they rate a national audience for their “screw you guys, I’m going home” moments.

  24. 24
    Splitting Image says:

    @Howlin Wolfe:

    As I read Smith’s op-ed, my initial thought was that he was courageous to write it. I but as I read on, especially as he outlined his influence in hiring new analysts, I thought, he’s got as much to do with it as the people he’s excoriating. Poster boy for recruiting, executive director, etc., and acting like he had no influence on the culture. He didn’t mention what steps he took to try to reverse the trajectory of the firm’s culture. And his little brag about how he was a Rhodes finalist, a ping-pong medalist in Israel, makes me want to puke. Lots talk about “doing the right thing”, but I didn’t get much of a sense he tried to do that.

    For giggles, compare his resignation letter to Olympia Snowe’s.

  25. 25
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Splitting Image: I’ll try to google it for giggles! Googling for giggles!

  26. 26
    El Cid says:

    @Rathskeller:

    …I think it’s also true that this is a classic disgruntled employee, who did not play an essential role, and who could not have gone any higher in the organization.
    __
    I also think it’s more like he stood in the hallway next to the room while other people made decisions that he eventually disagreed with.

    The “Executive Director” title at least made it sound that his job had a significant leadership role, though I’m not familiar with the hierarchy of G-S.

  27. 27
    Poopyman says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Jump. You. Fuckers.

    One wonders whether this rat knows something that told him to jump from the good ship GS NOW.

    Makes me a bit nervous.

  28. 28
    RareSanity says:

    @El Cid:

    The “Executive Director” title at least made it sound that his job had a significant leadership role, though I’m not familiar with the hierarchy of G-S.

    There are times when people are “promoted” to very important sounding positions, to actually remove them from any power and influence. The “mark” doesn’t realize this until after they have been in the new position awhile, and realize people no longer have any interest in anything they have to say.

    You could almost say that it may prompt said employee to seek some kind of revenge against the company, that they feel wronged them…just sayin’.

  29. 29
    El Cid says:

    @RareSanity: I’m aware of this phenomenon, and have always secretly hoped to be victim of it.

  30. 30
    Linnaeus says:

    So this guy’s surprised to find rampant greed at an investment banking firm? Welcome to capitalism, Mr. Smith.

  31. 31
    Suffern ACE says:

    @RareSanity: Vice Chairman usually is a title that indicates that the person is powerless.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    RareSanity says:

    @El Cid:

    You and me both…

    It’s on the same level as the dream I have of the nymphomaniac supermodel, that only wants to use me for sex, and give me piles of cash to do so.

    ..sigh..

  34. 34
    RareSanity says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Vice Chairman usually is a title that indicates that the person is powerless.

    I don’t know, it could be the person in charge of booze, drugs, hookers and gambling…a very important position, if you ask me.

  35. 35
    daveNYC says:

    @Linnaeus: Back when GS was a partnership (which hasn’t been the case for quite a while) there was still a fair amount of concern about firm reputation and keeping tight control of risk. Now that it’s publicly traded and there is no longer any reason for someone like the old partners to keep things controlled in order to ensure they can cash out upon retirement, I think the culture there probably has gone seriously downhill.

  36. 36
    gopher2b says:

    Bet you a million dollars of his clients’ money he’s starting a hedge fund. He probably watched Jerry Maguire last night and thought this was a good idea.

    “Not a breakdown, a break through.”

    “Who’s coming with me?”

  37. 37
    Linnaeus says:

    @daveNYC:

    I think you’re right that there has been some kind of change there. I was being a tad tongue-in-cheek.

  38. 38
    TK-421 says:

    I think the most important feature, once one gets over the holier than thou moralizing and the self-reverential bragging is that an insider just confirmed what everybody else has known or suspected for a while now.

    Regardless of how “good” or “bad” this guy is, he spoke some truth. The letter reminded us of a reality that has been lost in American business in the last, oh, 20+ years: the true purpose of business is to find and keep customers. Peter Drucker said that many years ago, and it’s just as true today as it was then.

    No, it’s NOT just to make profits, that’s the wrong mindset. Profits will come from your customers if you take care of them. If you profit without taking care of your customers (i.e. at the expense of your customers), however, then you’re killing your business long-term.

    Somewhere in the past few decades the American businessman has utterly forgotten about the customer. And I have my doubts whether the Wall Street man ever actually believed that. I think these two things are not unrelated.

    I believe Wall Street, with its short-term Faustian mindset and its zero sum attitude towards customers, has been slowly killing American business for decades. It’s hard to describe how angering it is to see people in Washington fawn over and cater to these assholes, because they’re killing American business and by extension the American economy.

  39. 39
    patrick II says:

    Why Goldman Sachs has any customers left, particularly large investors, is beyond my understanding. I would never invest big money with a firm that has purposely created losses for their customers so they could either get rid of their own bad investments or profit on short selling against the interest of their customers, or the other nefarious schemes they created for their gain and their customers loss. It seems there should be a loss of trust at a basic level. But there isn’t, Goldman Sachs rolls on.

  40. 40
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Disgruntled former employee is disgruntled.

  41. 41
    RareSanity says:

    @TK-421:

    While what your saying is true, the problem is that American companies the size of GS, have gotten so big, and swallowed up so much of their previous competitors, they don’t need to give a shit about customers because, “Where else ya gonna go?”

    @patrick II:

    The main thing to remember, is that GS clients have not lost large amounts of money, GS makes them money. The real disservice is that, they don’t make their clients nearly the amount of money that they could make them, because their clients making money is a secondary priority.

    It’s like the old saying that employers pay their employees just enough so they won’t quit. In this case, GS makes their clients just enough money that they don’t leave.

    If GS clients were really losing money, on a consistent basis, they would leave in a heartbeat.

  42. 42
    James E. Powell says:

    So, is he going to donate a portion of his income form the last few years to a charity? Will he wear a hair shirt? Does he want the 99% to say that they forgive him?

    Why would anyone write something like that?

  43. 43
    daveNYC says:

    @patrick II: Forget customers, I’m still not getting how they’re able to even have offices in Europe after what they pulled with the Greek debt swap shenanigans.

  44. 44
    Craig says:

    Greg Smith spent a decade selling out his integrity, one bonus check at a time. And now he adds up his portfolio and concludes he finally has enough socked away to support himself modestly but comfortably for the rest of his life.

    That is to say, he worked out his price, Goldman met it, and now he feels entitled to the ultimate luxury good: righteous indignation.

    He keeps the cash, sets himself up in a pleasant little cottage somewhere, and tells the world how the money doesn’t taint him, because, by God, he quit after only twelve years of professional robbery.

    Forgive me if I’m not falling all over myself in my rush to congratulate the man. Let’s wait for the stories about Mr. Smith dedicating his life to feeding the hungry and healing the sick. The saga of the Last Honest Man at Goldman doesn’t impress me in the least.

  45. 45
    trollhattan says:

    What the hell is wrong with people? Kids should not have access to guns. Ever. Know what I always want in my glovebox? A tire gauge.

    TACOMA – A 3-year-old boy fatally shot himself with a gun he found in a car while his family stopped for gas early Wednesday in Tacoma, police said. It was Western Washington’s third recent shooting by a child.
    __
    “It is incredible in light of the other ones,” said Tacoma police Officer Naveed Benjamin. “You would think people would take more care, not less.”
    __
    The Tacoma-area family had stopped for gas about 12:30 a.m. The father put his pistol under the seat and got out to pump gas while the mother went inside the convenience store, Benjamin said.
    __
    They left their son and their infant daughter in the car. The boy climbed out of his child seat, found the gun and shot himself in the head, police said. He was declared dead at a hospital. The girl was not injured.

    http://today.seattletimes.com/.....in-tacoma/

  46. 46
  47. 47
    TK-421 says:

    @RareSanity:

    You’re suggesting that GS is projecting a monopolist mindset, and you could be right.

    But here’s the thing: monopolies always die eventually. It’s always just a matter of time. One way or another, a business that adopts a monopolist mindset by definition loses its ability to find and keep customers. A fundamental inability to find and keep customers will in turn cause that business to die. Always.

    So again, this guy (whatever his personal faults) is speaking truth to GS executives, and his warning should be heeded: get back to finding and keeping customers, or prepare to die.

  48. 48

    @Face:
    Sounds a bit muslimy perhaps Kenyan.

  49. 49
    Barry says:

    @TK-421: “But here’s the thing: monopolies always die eventually. It’s always just a matter of time. ”

    That’s the same with non-monopolies – they will die; it’s just a matter of time.

    Before then, of course, the profits are immense.

  50. 50
    Daaling says:

    “One would have thought that as a senior executive with the firm, responsible for hiring and mentoring new talent, that he’d be in a position to do something about that. I’m just sayin.”

    Urrrum…direct quote from CEO Blankfein. ” Smith’s views were in the minority among his 12,000 fellow vice presidents around the world.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....RV20120314

    One of 12000 VP’s can make a difference?
    I’m just sayin.

  51. 51
    Jay in Oregon says:

    This is technically an open thread, so I’m hoping someone can help me figure out if this is satire or not.

    http://objectiveministries.org.....osaur.html

    I honestly cannot tell. I mean, we have the Creation Museum. As a real thing.

  52. 52
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Jay in Oregon:
    Yeah, it’s satire. I should have read far enough to see the reports of pterosaur attacks in Puerto Rico.

  53. 53
    trollhattan says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    Is dead thread but what a fun find!

    From a somewhat man-bites-dog find, the august Conservapedia tells us “Dr. Richard Paley” is “not a Doctor.”

    http://www.conservapedia.com/Talk:Kangaroo

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