Here’s a hint for bankers who continue to whine about being disliked: Stop with the condescension.
We got another dose of it today from Goldman Sachs, in comments from the company’s head European flack. It’s the same refrain we’ve heard countless times now since the onset of the financial crisis, and it goes something like this: We understand the public is upset, so we need to do a better job of explaining what we do and how we do it.
Baloney. That’s just a back-handed way of saying people outside the industry aren’t really bright enough to understand how we make money, and if they did, they’d really appreciate us for our benevolence and unflinching ethical behavior.
The fact is that it doesn’t behoove Goldman Sachs (at this point at least), or any other bank to do a better job of explaining the more cagey areas of their operations. That would not endear them to the public or to regulators. And it actually might make things worse.
Anyone who watched a few minutes of Lloyd Blankfein’s appearance before a congressional committee could tell he had little interest in “doing a better job of communicating” about the firm’s business. Lawmakers were asking some pretty simple, straight-forward questions of the CEO, who often seemed as if they were speaking to him in Swahili.
Carl Levin: “Is there not a conflict when you sell something to somebody and then are determined to bet against that same security?”
Blankfein pretends he hears “Je, kuna mgogoro si wakati kuuza kitu na mtu na kisha ni kuamua bet dhidi ya usalama huo.”
Sorry, Congressman, I don’t understand Swahili. But that’s my fault. I need to learn to communicate better.
You want the public to ease up on the scorn and derision, bankers? Spare us the it’s-not-you-it’s-me speeches.