In an effort to salvage his company's name, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein has apologized for the bank's role in the financial crisis and pledged half a billion dollars to help small businesses recover from the recession. The move comes after Blankfein was recently lambasted for saying his bank carries out "God's work." Will the move rectify Goldman's standing? Finance bloggers aren't giving them much of a chance. Here are their gripes, with a notable defense by business writer Felix Salmon:
- Don't Be Fooled, writes Matt Taibbi: Lloyd Blankfein is "actually keeping all of the money and going ahead with a record year of bonuses while his company went about the business of mass-evicting people during the holidays. Well, Lloyd, we don’t know what to say. Uh… thanks for saying so? We’re glad you’re sorry. Man, these people are amazing. Just as theater, they’re impossible to beat. Someone should make a soap opera out of them, maybe call it Billionaires Cry Too or something."
- So This Is How the World Works, muses Joe Costello at Alternet: "If only all the boys sitting behind bars for sticking up a 7-11 knew all they had to do was apologize and give back a pittance of what they stole. All would be forgiven... A tithe is supposed to be ten percent, so they're about a billion short. Better, if they were...broke into a couple dozen pieces."
- Try This, Goldman Sam Gustin at Daily Finance offers his own plan to invigorate small businesses: "Blankfein and others argue that compensation must be structured to retain talent -- and they're right -- but is it too much to ask for a little Protestant modesty around the holidays? ...How about if each Goldman employee took half their bonus -- a total of $10 billion -- and used it for direct small business loans. That would get people back to work."
- "Here's Some Money, Poor People. Now Shut Up About Our Bonuses" reads a headline in Gawker. Ravi Somaiya writes, "CEO Lloyd Blankfein has made yet another cursory PR gesture - a tiny fund for small businesses - designed to divert attention from $17bn in bonuses he's paying to the bankers who helped drive the economy, Zeppelin-like, into the ground...This is beyond mocking."
- I'll Defend Goldman on This One, writes Felix Salmon at Reuters—today's notable dissenter. "Goldman deserves to be applauded... All too often there’s lots of goodwill in such places but a serious shortage of lendable funds: initiatives like Goldman’s should help change that. And given that small businesses are a key driver of employment growth, there has never been a better time to do this."