Ethics and the culture of Goldman Sachs

There is an interesting piece in the New York Times today entitled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.”  The author was – until today, apparently – an executive director at the company.

These days, the most common question I get from junior analysts about derivatives is, “How much money did we make off the client?” It bothers me every time I hear it, because it is a clear reflection of what they are observing from their leaders about the way they should behave. Now project 10 years into the future: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the junior analyst sitting quietly in the corner of the room hearing about “muppets,” “ripping eyeballs out” and “getting paid” doesn’t exactly turn into a model citizen.

The author almost certainly has non-altruistic motives in writing the article (he must see it as good PR for some future activity) – or is painfully naive, but he presents what is probably a fairly accurate depiction of the culture nonetheless.

One things is certain: Goldman Sachs would have a lot of trouble making money off of its clients if it had to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Addendum: Here is a brilliant parody from The Daily Mash “Why I am Leaving the Empire, by Darth Vader.”  A quote:

To put the problem in the simplest terms, throttling people with your mind continues to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making people dead.

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