Last quarter, Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs made a $3.19 billion profit, and according to some estimates, the firm will set aside $21.9 billion for compensation this year. In an interview with London’s Sunday Times, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that the firm is serving an important “social purpose” by helping companies grow, and denied the idea that Goldman is only able to make record profits thanks to government support:
Blankfein dismisses any suggestion that Goldman needed to be bailed out, and, by extension, rejects any notion that the firm is now profiting from public support. Sure, he took $10 billion from Washington’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (Tarp). But the bank has since repaid the cash, with healthy interest — 23%. Goldman also benefited from the federal bail-out of the huge US insurance firm AIG. Goldman had bought $20 billion worth of insurance from AIG and received billions of dollars — perhaps as much as $13 billion — when Washington pumped $90 billion into the stricken giant. But Blankfein insists Goldman was “hedged” against any AIG losses, in the best possible way — with cash.
Of course, Goldman’s profits have been driven in large part by its access to cheap federal dollars, and the firm may have gone under were it not for its status as a “too big to fail” firm. But Blankfein told the Times that he is just a banker “doing God’s work.” And evidently God’s work — bonuses and all — cannot be questioned.