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Goldman Sachs' 'muppet' probe: A serious effort to reform?
The firm undertakes a new internal investigation, but critics suspect it's just a whitewash to contain the fallout from a hugely embarrassing New York Times op-ed
A Goldman Sachs trader on the New York Stock Exchange Floor: The financial firm is conducting an internal review following a damning op-ed from a former employee.
A Goldman Sachs trader on the New York Stock Exchange Floor: The financial firm is conducting an internal review following a damning op-ed from a former employee.
Ramin Talaie/Corbis
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oldman Sachs is scouring internal emails for the word "muppet" and other slurs its employees may have used to deride the blue-chip firm's clients, according to Reuters. The probe is a response to an op-ed in The New York Times in which former employee Greg Smith accused Goldman employees of "ripping their clients off" and contemptuously labeling them "muppets." The high-profile scandal is a stinging black eye for Goldman, which has long portrayed itself as a haven for wealthy clients' money. Will the "'muppet' hunt" convince Wall Street that Goldman is serious about reforming its "toxic" culture?

This is just a PR stunt: Call me "cynical," says Sam Gustin at TIME, but the investigation is probably "little more than a dog-and-pony show, strategically leaked to the press in order to convey the impression that Goldman 'gets it,' and is determined to root out the rotten apples" in the company. It's telling that Goldman didn't say what it would do if it finds scores of references to muppets. "Will it publish a mea-culpa in The Times? Will it fire the offending employees? Will we ever know the results of the investigation?" I doubt it.
"With 'muppet' hunt, will Goldman Sachs end email smack-talk?"

It could legitimately be a fact-finding mission: Goldman Sachs' executives are clearly "still in damage-control mode," says Becket Adams at The Blaze. And "the decision to scan internal emails probably stems from the fact that the company has no idea how accurate Smith's allegations are." Smith didn't name any names, and that's forced Goldman to undertake an investigation to discover the truth.
"Goldman Sachs goes muppet hunting"

Regardless, Goldman will be just fine: The financial titan took a hit to its share price the day Smith's op-ed was published, with the company losing "more than $2 billion" in market value, says Richard Blackden at Britain's The Telegraph. But "it remains unclear what damage the public relations storm has done" to the company in the long run. Goldman is releasing its first-quarter results in April, and analysts are projecting an improvement over the previous quarter. It doesn't sound like Goldman is hurting too much.
"Goldman Sachs in hunt for 'muppet' email"

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