Wall Street investment banks have often been criticised for their role in creating the conditions that gave rise to the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. Dire allegations of market manipulation, insider dealing, asset misvaluation, excessive leverage and mis-selling of mortgage derivatives etc. are even now still coming to light. Rightly or wrongly, for many, Wall Street has come to epitomize the greed, corruption, and nepotism that has so-harmed our economy and brought untold misery to millions.
One bank that can safely be excused from the list of culprits, however, is Goldman Sachs. Founded in 1869, this venerable bank is one of the few financial institutions that is able consistently to beat the market year after year. It does this by employing only the brightest and the best and investing in cutting-edge trading systems.
Greater even than its ability to generate wealth is Goldman Sach’s unrivaled record of public service. In the first place, it was the actions of former Goldman head, Hank Paulson, who literally saved the world economy from near-certain collapse. Acting as Secretary of the Treasury at a time of crisis when other leaders were bereft of ideas, Paulson recognised the urgent need to inject $700 billion into the banking system to buy troubled bank assets. We can only imagine the tremendous stress he must have encountered in trying to match counterparties and unwind some very complex deals. His selfless actions at a time of need are undoubtedly a major reason why we enjoy the incredible prosperity and near-full employment we do today.
Paulson is just one example of many Goldman Sachs alumni who have given up highly-paid positions at the bank in order to give public service. We think also of Robert Rubin, Jim Corzine, and Stephen Friedman. Their names are too many, but when other bank presidents prefer to luxuriate in their palatial offices, counting their multi-million dollar bonuses, Goldman Sachs alumni quietly roll up their shirtsleeves and give back to society in so many ways.
Goldman Sachs’ benevolence is not limited to working in government, however. They are keen to share their wisdom and successful trading methods, for example, and happily provide their price forecasts and market outlook for free in the accredited media. More generally, Goldman Sachs’ website shows their proud record of acting as a global citizen, helping women, small businesses and the less fortunate achieve their dreams.
Of course, a bank that is so successful will always attract its own critics. Spiteful journalists like Matt Taibi of the Rolling Stone is infamous for referring to Goldman Sachs as a ‘vampire squid’ because its influence extends so far. Not only is this remark speciesist, it is also totally unfounded and hurtful to Goldman Sachs employees, many of whom are millennials.
Ultimately though, we must remember that Goldman Sachs was a huge supporter of and donor to the Clinton campaign. It therefore shares our progressive values. The bank loved and valued Hillary so much that it was willing to pay her a small fortune just to hear her speak. According to some reports, Hillary received north of $670,000 for making three speeches to Goldman employees. Although this seems a lot, Goldman clearly felt it was money well spent.
We can only hope that Goldman Sachs will maintain its record of public service for years to come and make us all richer as a result.