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February 2012
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Greg Smith’s op-ed piece in the New York Times yesterday was a broadside hit to Goldman Sachs’ (GS) reputation, focusing on what Smith believes to be avaricious corporate ethos, one that puts Goldman Sachs’ interests ahead of their customers’.  This public resignation letter ignited a firestorm of negative public sentiment, lumping GS in with all those other Wall Street firms as clear examples of greed taken to an extreme.  The GS PR machine quickly and aggressively sprang into action, reaffirming GS’ commitment to their clients and citing survey results and third party rankings, to neutralize the maelstrom that Smith’s piece generated, but is that enough?

What was conspicuously absent from the one-sided thrashing that GS took in the media and online yesterday was a client standing up to defend Goldman Sachs.  Despite the rhetoric of Lloyd Blankfein and company, there wasn’t a single individual or organization that openly supported GS and their performance on behalf of clients.  It may be that these wealthy individuals or firms are too busy to intervene in what they view to be a petty squabble or perhaps too embarrassed to admit that in spite of their wealth, they’ve had their pockets picked by a very smooth operator.

With the avalanche of negative public sentiment heaped on GS, one would think there is a serious issue to deal with and possibly something that could knock Goldman’s off their perch.  That is, until you realize that we tend to have very short memories, and when another story about corporate greed or other egregious behaviours surfaces, the GS debacle will quickly slip into a distant memory and be forgotten, as will Greg Smith.

Ryck Marciniak (guest blogger)