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Un@*%$ingbelieveable...

 
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Un@*%$ingbelieveable...
« on: December 26, 2009, 08:00:57 PM »

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0...ab49a.html?nclick_check=1

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Under other circumstances, this would have been a year to savour in the long, rapid ascent of Lloyd Blankfein. Goldman Sachs, the investment bank he has led for three years, not only navigated the 2008 global financial crisis better than others on Wall Street but is set to make record profits, and pay up to $23bn (€16bn, £14bn) in bonuses to its 31,700 staff.

For Mr Blankfein, a scholarship boy from the Bronx whose first financial job at Goldman was selling gold coins in its commodities trading arm, has prospered to an extent that was implausible even 10 years ago, when it became a public company. Its influence has spread throughout the world, from New York and London to Shanghai and São Paulo.

A good slice of its success is attributable to Mr Blankfein, a tough, bright, funny (everyone remarks upon his unpretentious, wisecracking manner) financier who reoriented Goldman. Under his leadership, trading and risk-taking have pushed to the fore, reducing the influence of its investment banking advisers.

In 2009, however, Wall Street faced a wave of public anger at how banks that survived only with the assistance of taxpayers seemed unchanged and unrepentant. Goldman’s profitability, and suspicions that its deep links with governments around the world give it unfair advantages, made it a symbol of Wall Street greed and excess. It was described by the Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”.

Mr Blankfein has struggled to rebut the criticism effectively, shifting from insisting that it would probably have survived the crisis without help from the US Treasury, to apologising for its conduct, and finally (in a typically jaunty line at the end of an interview with the Sunday Times) asserting that it was “doing God’s work”.

Yet he has also steered Goldman adeptly through the crisis, betting correctly that the global investment banks would survive the turmoil (with government help) and not be dismantled by regulators. Instead, his bank has stuck to its strengths, unashamedly taken advantage of the low interest rates and diminished competition resulting from the crisis to make big trading profits.

For all of these reasons, both positive and negative, the Financial Times has chosen Lloyd Blankfein as its Person of the Year. His job and his personality have made him the public face of Wall Street during its most testing period since the 1930s.

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The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. -- Teddy Roosevelt
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