I find Goldman’s response to Friday’s nuclear attack from the SEC instructive because it reveals just how out of touch those of us who work in the financial industry are with the average person and the politicians on both sides of the aisle now trying to court their visceral anger. Essentially Goldman’s defense will be “this is our business and everyone in it knew what they were getting into.” It recalls Hyman Roth’s line in The Godfather II, “So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen; I didn’t ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!”
To which I can see the Obama administration replying “Exactly, and your way of doing business stinks.’
Whatever the lawyers at the Enforcement Division think of the merits of their case, every press release like this one makes it more and more likely that Goldman, and the rest of us, will have to drastically change our attitudes. The game has changed and I fear the people who matter in the financial industry continue to have their heads in the sand.