Today, I have received dozens of media requests and hundreds of emails regarding former Goldman Sachs executive, Greg Smith’s gutsy, and internationally resonating, public resignation.
I applaud Smith’s decision to bring the nature of Goldman’s profit-making strategies to the forefront of the global population’s discourse, as so many others have been doing through books, investigative journalism, and the Occupy movements over the past decade since my book, Other People’s Money, was written after I resigned from Goldman. It would be great if Smith’s illuminations would serve as the turning point around which serious examination and re-regulation of the banking system framework would transpire.
The inherent conflict of interest that firms such as Goldman possess through enjoying the multiple roles of ‘market-maker,’ ‘securities creator’ and ‘client-advisor’ foster an environment rife with systemic risk. The trading revenue portion of Goldman’s profits, as well as its derivatives vs. assets ratio, is the highest amongst the American bank holding companies. And yet, in the fall of 2008, the Federal Reserve approved Goldman Sachs (along with Morgan Stanley) to alter its moniker from investment bank to bank holding company, thereby allowing it to gain access to federal subsidies and potential ongoing support.
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In this regard, the firm’s practices should remain under intense scrutiny by the general public and legislators. I would hope that the message behind Smith’s resignation will not be obfuscated by debates over the extent to which the firm’s clients are either supported or exploited, but instead, serve as a powerful call to foster a more-strictly delineated and less reckless financial system.