Lloyd Blankfein's sense of humor is well known. Back in 2007, the New York Times dubbed the Goldman Sachs CEO "master of the quip" for his habit of peppering his interviews with sarcastic one-liners. To wit:
Why did he shed the weight and shave the beard? “I wasn’t going to make myself taller.” How does he feel about the markets? “I haven’t felt this good since July 1998” (a month before Wall Street went into a tailspin after the Russian ruble collapsed). And to a photographer shooting his portrait? “If I’d known you were coming, I’d have had my hair done.”
Ha! It's funny cause he's bald! True to form, Lloyd let loose a few zingers in an interview with the London Sunday Times this week— among them, that Goldman Sachs was doing "God's work."
While the CEO did speak seriously about his belief that the firm fulfills a "social purpose" by providing loans to consumers, he was clearly joking about being directed by God, as the original passage indicates:
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."
But no one laughed. In fact, they did the opposite: CNBC's Charlie Gasparino called the comments "truly unsettling." Forbes used them, disturbingly, to spin off into a story about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banking head who was known as "God's banker" before he was hung from a bridge for financial crimes. And Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi put the comment together with the church appearances of two British Goldman executives and got prepared to nail a cross to the door at 85 Broad.
The great banks of the world have gone on a p.r. counteroffensive in Europe, and are sending spokescrooks in shiny suits into churches to persuade the masses that Christ would have approved of the latest round of obscene bonuses.
Jeez. Perhaps it's a little "too soon" for the Goldman chief to be letting his freak flag fly. But does that really mean we have to lose our sense of humor?
Goldman Runs Risks, Reaps Rewards [NYT]
Goldman Sachs' "God's Work" Comments Are "Truly Unsettling" (GS) [Business Insider]