You think the people at Goldman Sachs don't know that you think of them as greedy, unrepentant bastards who owe their robust health to a prolonged feeding on the lifeblood of the American taxpayer? They know, as CEO Lloyd Blankfein told the Times of London this week, that "people are pissed off, mad, and bent out of shape," that the CEO could "slit [his] wrists and people would cheer." It's been said that Goldman has been going on a "charm offensive" to combat their "image problem," and this seems to be true: If the quotes the Times' John Arlidge picked up on his visit to 85 Broad are any indication, the gang is definitely newly humbled, mindful of optics, and wanting to clear a few things up.
For starters, the CEO is not the devil. He is an emissary from heaven.
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."
As for those rumors that they're clubbing baby seals to death in the basement of 85 Broad?
"God, no," one staffer says wryly. "We don’t club baby seals. We club babies."
And the idea that Goldman was only able to survive and thrive because of a government loan? Untrue. This is how it went down, according to one anonymous banker.
"We didn’t f*** up like the other guys. We’ve still got a balance sheet. So, now we’ve got a bigger and richer pot to piss in."
Nonetheless, they're mindful that a lot of other people had trouble this year, which is why, for instance, head of European operations and yacht enthusiast Michael Sherwood is going out of his way not to rub precisely how stinking rich he is in people's faces.
"I like boats," he says. "How many boats have I bought?" Sherwood says. "It’s not a good time to answer that. I’ll take the Fifth."