Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa . . .
It is not everyday that the head of a major Wall Street bank issues an unsolicited and unspecified apology. In fact, in my 23 years on Wall Street I do not ever recall a Wall Street CEO issuing an apology in the manner that Lloyd Blankfein did today. What did Blankfein say? From a Bloomberg report, Goldman, Buffett Establish $500 Million Small-Business Program:
Blankfein, speaking at a conference today sponsored by Directorship magazine, apologized for Goldman Sachs’s role in some of the activities that led to the financial crisis, without providing specifics.
“We participated in things that were clearly wrong and we have reason to regret and we apologize for them,” Blankfein said at the New York event. The magazine named him its CEO of the year.
Wait a second. Blankfein admits that Goldman participated in activities that led to the crisis? Get Lloyd back in here and ask him for specifics.
“Things that were clearly wrong?” Like what? Lloyd, you are not getting off this easily, and neither should your firm get off so easily. You ran the show during this period. Does the buck stop at your desk?
Answer the questions: What activities? How were they wrong? Why are you regretful? How much did you make from these wrong activities?
The fact that you have the chutzpah to think you can issue a blanket, unspecified apology in an attempt to curry favor with the American public is the height of hubris and rings very shallow. I would go so far as to say your apology is mere words and talk. Talk is cheap.
Lloyd, rectify Goldman’s activities. Qualify and quantify these activities. Make restitution. Just how sorry are you? Let’s open this up to readers and ask them what activities they might think your company engaged in which you now admit were wrong.
Readers, please share your opinions. What do you think Blankfein was referring to when he stated that Goldman “participated in things that were clearly wrong”? I’ll get the ball rolling with a few possibilities:
1. Manipulated the equity markets via computer programs connected with high frequency trading.
2. Ran over Tim Geithner in the settlement of open positions with AIG.
3. Facilitated insider trading on behalf of hedge funds.
4. Intentionally misled lesser prioritized clients via trading huddles.
5. Abused privileged information provided by former Goldman execs now in government positions.
6. All of the above.
7. Other . . . please share your opinions.
Let’s send Lloyd a message that unspecified apologies are mere pandering. Without further substantiating his statement, he has only dug a deeper hole for the firm most vilified on Wall Street.