Goldman Sachs' charm offensive

Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein apologizes for hurting the economy and offers a $500 million olive branch. Can we forgive him now?

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein publicly apologized for his bank’s role in the global financial meltdown, telling an audience in New York: “We participated in things that were clearly wrong.... We apologize.” At the same time, Goldman announced a $500 million project with investor Warren Buffett to help 10,000 small businesses. Following Blankfein’s much-criticized remark that Goldman is “doing God’s work,” can these acts of contrition save Goldman Sachs from PR damnation? (Watch a CNBC debate Goldman Sachs' efforts to repair its image)

Well done, Lloyd: Goldman Sachs and Lloyd Blankfein deserve to be “applauded” for today’s announcements, says Felix Salmon at Reuters. Small businesses are a “key driver of employment growth,” and this kind of funding can “make a world of difference” to the economy. Blankfein’s apology also deserves credit: “Would that more bank executives went public” in what they got wrong.

“Goldman’s human face”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

We need a personal apology, Lloyd: “With all due respect,” says Jessica Pressler in New York Magazine, Blankfein’s mea culpa “is not going to do.” After months of hearing about Goldman’s bonuses and God’s work, “all Lloyd can offer is the royal we?” If he really wants us to forgive him, “he better get down off his high horse” and use the first person, “preferably on bended knee.”

“Lloyd Blankfein finally apologizes (kind of)”

Goldman Sachs should be careful: Goldman might be able to “burnish its public image” with some much-needed help for small businesses, says Vince Veneziani in The Business Insider, but Blankfein and Co. “better be really sure they don’t even slip up slightly”—in whatever it is they’re planning for their charitable endeavor. If they do anything that looks like “screwing over the little guy,” it will “backfire badly.”

“Goldman and Buffet to small businesses: We’re here to help”

Goldman’s being cheap: Count me among the unimpressed, says Daniel Indiviglio in The Atlantic. The $500 million investment in small businesses is a “drop in the bucket” for Goldman. Their 2009 bonus pool alone is $23 billion, which makes this around 2 percent of their bonus compensation. “Some people put a higher portion of their income than that into their church offering cup.”

“Goldman Sachs and Warren Buffett seek to curb unemployment… really”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.