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Blankfein Could Still Leave

Tuesday, 3 May 2011 | 2:37 PM ET
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
CNBC.com
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

Start the clock counting down the days until Lloyd Blankfein steps down as the chief executive of Goldman Sachs.

Blankfein has reportedly told the company's board members that rumors of an impending retirement are not true. He plans to stay for another year, according to a report in the New York Post Tuesday.

Longtime Goldman watchers will recall that Hank Paulson had a similar conversation with board members in May of 2006. He reassured the board that he was not going to take the job as the Bush administration's Treasury Secretary.

Within just a few weeks, Paulson reversed course and left the firm for the Treasury Department.

Here's what you should really watch to determine how long Blankfein is staying: are his potential successors staying on board? After five years of working under Blankfein as a CEO, the moves of top Goldman executives are contrary indicators. If Blankfein's top deputies resign soon, giving up hopes to run the firm, that means they believe Blankfein really is staying. If they stay on board, it's a sign that they think he'll leave soon and they'll have a shot at the top spot.

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