Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The New York Times op-ed Goldman comment -Balance?

As I read this completely one-sided self-aggrandizing harshly negative opinion piece about Goldman Sachs, there were many questions: who is this writer? an executive director is one below a managing director which is below a partner. How did he get such ink out of nowhere?; how long ago did this dramatic culture change come about? the opinion references observations "over the last twelve months" and the writer was certainly reaping the significant benefits of Goldman employment for the previous 11 years. cultures don't radically change on a dime or even in a decade, my friends, and are long lasting creatures; Goldman's was a tough but exceptional one; so does our writer have an "ax" to grind, a resentment to seek counseling about, or the capacity to see the opportunity that the New York Times represents a "paper of record" that will soak up anything negative that he sends to them about Goldman.

What I was thinking about as I read this was the Duke Lacrosse team story of six or seven years ago. The NYT relentlessly exploited the story in a one-sided way for over six months, with that lead coverage woman printing attacks almost every day and every, that's every, self -righteous lame sports columnist weighing in regularly. No sure evidence of anything but an unattractive and overly raucous party, but the NYT had nary one article suggesting anything but a heinous crime that fit the perfect story of privileged white boys assaulting and humiliating underprivileged black women. WHOOPS, the woman was a criminal, a drug addict, and chronic liar, her accomplice remained silent after supporting her for a few days, and the prosecutor turned out to be an attention seeking lying politico, acting criminally, and was disbarred. Sorry Duke lacrosse players, sorry fired coach, sorry sullied institution, but that sorry NEVER came from the NYT. It just skulked away.

Why did this event come to mind. The NYT has been the lead attacker of Goldman for three years. Many investment banks got caught up in the mortgage banking collapse and some thrift banks whose names are well known created the vast majority of the trash product. The investment banks packaged and sold the securities in both good and bad ways, mostly to supposedly informed institutions. Many were involved. Why has the NYT been so relentlessly focused on Goldman.

Some of Goldman's acts were clearly deceptive but it is unclear whether they were illegal. They have been fined, their reputation has been damaged, and they are, it's just my best guess, seriously working their way out from this.

What Mr. Smith the writer observed likely has some truth in it, but I guess that it is the truth that he chooses to report and does not include the truth that would not support his argument. There are bad eggs in every institution. Young people working 12 hours and often more a day joke around, say stupid things, try to act macho, they are easy to pick off for quotes. Some departments have managers for jerks and go a little rogue in their braggadocio.

In huge companies that run on creativity and subjectivity, ideas and communications, not every thing is said correctly or handled correctly. It would not be hard for someone to cherry pick enough inappropriate comments to write an opinion like Mr. Smith's but it should not condemn an entire organization, but that's just what the NYT wanted.

I could go on and on, and I guess that I have. NBC evening news made this their lead story. This is not NEWS.

---While my firm was a client of GS many times from the last part of the '80's to the early 2000's and I informed GS securities analysts about public information related to the company, I have never had any other affiliation with the firm.

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