Goldman and the Muppets: The 5 Most Damaging Things in Greg Smith's Resignation Op-Ed

Greg Smith, former head of the Goldman Sachs U.S. equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, didn't pull an emergency exit chute and sign off from his job via an inflatable slide like the now infamous JetBlue employee last August. But he did make quite a splash with his resignation in an Op-Ed in the New York Times Wednesday morning. Nothing Smith had to say about the present era at Goldman Sachs was pleasant, but here are some of the worst, particularly disparaging things he had to say:


1. Poison in the Secret Sauce:  The environment at Goldman Sachs is "now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it," says Smith. And for that, he says the history books may blame CEO Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn for letting the culture deteriorate under their watch.

2. Muppets!: If respect is important, Goldman is in trouble. "Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as 'muppets,' sometimes over internal e-mail."

3. The Great Rip-Off: On derivatives sales meetings, Smith says, "It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of [clients]. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all."       

4. Sell Trash, Earn Respect: Smith says the following is a quick way to achieve leadership status at Goldman Sachs:   "Persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they  are not seen as having a lot of potential profit."

5. Complicated and Wrong: Smith says he isn't in good conscience about selling clients products that are "wrong" for clients, implying that’s exactly what Goldman is doing. Although he says he doesn't know of any illegal behavior, people "push the envelope and pitch lucrative and complicated products to clients even if they are not the simplest investments or the ones most directly aligned with the client's goals."
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