Well, that’s one way to resign.
Greg Smith, an executive director and head of Goldman Sachs’ U.S. equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, quit his job today in an email and op-ed in the New York Times.
“The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for,” Smith wrote. “I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors.” (Read an excellent “Star Wars” parody of his op-ed here.)
In a statement, the bank said: “We disagree with the views expressed, which we don't think reflect the way we run our business. In our view, we will only be successful if our clients are successful.”
Goldman Sachs has received — and endured — very public slammings before. The criticism has been full of particularly colorful language during the global economic recession.
Four of the other biggest slams on the bank, after the jump.
Any list of this kind has to begin with the squid, or not at all. Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone famously wrote of the bank in April 2010:
The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
The description has since been repeated and appropriated countless times, including by Occupy protesters, as pictured above.
That same month, the bank reported that it had nearly doubled its income in the first quarter to almost $3.5 billion.
Doing God’s work
An exchange between Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and a Times of London reporter did not go over well with the public:
[Reporter:] Is it possible to make too much money? “Is it possible to have too much ambition? Is it possible to be too successful?” Blankfein shoots back . . . An impish grin spreads across Blankfein’s face. Call him a fat cat who mocks the public. Call him wicked. Call him what you will. He is, he says, just a banker “doing God’s work.”
When the quote was met with widespread outrage, a Goldman Sachs PR spokesman protested that it was just a joke.
Fabrice Tourre, then-Goldman Sachs’ 31-year-old vice president, expected to be the only man left standing after the crash, according to an e-mail to a friend in January 2007 that was later released:
“More and more leverage in the system, the whole building is about to collapse anytime now! Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab[rice Tourre] standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstrosities!!!”
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) later filed charges against Tourre and Goldman Sachs. But while “Tourre is Toast, Goldman will be fine,” wrote the Business Insider.
A financial snake pit
When Senator Carl Levin (D- Mich.) in April 2011 released the findings of a two-year probe of the financial crisis, the senator did not mince words about Goldman Sachs, describing the firm as “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest, and wrongdoing.”
Levin said he wanted the SEC to examine whether the bank had violated the law, which the SEC later did, charging Goldman Sachs with misleading clients. Goldman called the charges “unfounded in law and fact.” And after paying $550 million in a settlement, the bank was off the hook.