The talk today has been of an op-ed published today in the New York Times in which the author announces his resignation from the venerable investment bank Goldman Sachs, accusing it of having lost its way. It’s a really weird piece: when one sees a big, Jerry Maguire-style statement in such a prominent, influential space—and when that space chooses to publish it—one expects a certain reckoning with fundamentals. In the case of a cri de coeur against Goldman, one anticipates an indictment of America’s financial system and of how Goldman exploits it to create massive profits for its executives, employees, and shareholders at the expense of ordinary Americans.
Instead, author Greg Smith drops buzzwords like “leadership” to accuse Goldman of some weird, un-Goldman character flaw. “Make the client the focal point of your business again,” he implores the Board of Directors. Occupy the Client! (Goldman’s top two responded to the op-ed.) If Smith wants to leave his lucrative career of making money off of money in a way that contains a questionable amount of social utility in favor of a lucrative career of consulting/writing jargon-filled books about business/trying to become the next Michael Lewis, then that’s his business. Why the Times is helping him is what I can’t surmise. At close of business today, winning bronze in ping pong at the Maccabiah Games remains something to be proud of. This op-ed is not.