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.
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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.”
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’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.”
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