Goldman Sachs: For Once, Behind the Curve
Felix Salmon has a good post chewing over the latest piece of good/bad news for Goldman Sachs–good news in that it stands to gain $1 billion from a bankruptcy by CIT, bad news in that, once again, the bank is being portrayed as a financial vulture, reaping the benefits of others’ misery.
The question, Salmon rightly asks, is why a company that did so well in the public eye for so long is now the bete noir of pretty much anyone with even the slightest weakness for economic populism. Which isn’t to say they’re wrong–just to ask, where have they been? It’s not as if Goldman Sachs is doing anything new. And yet it didn’t come under similar drubbings in previous recessions. After the last year, will future presidents rush to appoint Goldmanites to top finance posts, as they have in the past? I doubt it.
The easiest explanation is that Goldman is a victim of its own success–not only financially, but politically. But a more likely cause is the changing nature of the press: In the past, Goldman’s reputation was carried by a small clatch of Wall Street reporters and editors who were themselves firmly ensconced in the Establishment. But while those folks still exist, they’ve got a lot more competition from blogs, whether informed or not. And controlling its image in the hyper-democratic, decentralized Internet Age is something Goldman has yet to address.
Whether the most elite firm in the most elite sector of the world’s most elitist industry can ever effectively address this new environment is an open question, but I can’t see it happening. Ironically, the leader in financial innovation is woefully behind the curve on changes in the media landscape.
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