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Inside Goldman Sachs: A Tense Morning

Wednesday, 14 Mar 2012 | 1:25 PM ET
Goldman Sachs
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Goldman Sachs

Greg Smith's New York Times Op-Ed was on screens all around the headquarters of Goldman Sachs this morning but most people weren't discussing it out loud, according to six sources at in various parts of the firm.

"People are being quiet about it. Waiting for the talking points from the executive committee," one person said.

There was a mixed reaction to the piece within the firm.

For some people, the grievances of Smith resonated with their own experiences at Goldman. Others saw his Op-Ed as a betrayal that missed what they regard as still great about the firm.

"Personally, I agree. In the few short years I've been here, I have seen a change in the culture. It's all about making money for the sales people and the firm," one person said. "There's little talk of actually helping clients."

"Reading the Op-Ed really has me re-thinking what I'm doing here," one managing director at the firm said this morning.

"I came here because we were good citizens. Cleaned up rivers, worked to make clients reach their goals. We even closed early when the power-grid was strained in summertime. We weren't dumb and greedy, like a Bear Stearns. Now, I hate to admit, we might not be dumb but we're as greedy as those guys ever were."

"There's no 'here' here anymore," said one employee. "I think it went south after Hank [Paulson] left and Lloyd [Blankfein] took over," said one employee I spoke with.

He was speaking from "the other side of the road," after having left his desk to call his family to talk about the article with them. He said he wouldn't be surprised if other employees started looking for work at a "more satisfying" place.

Not everyone shares those sentiments.

"Dude waited until after bonuses to resign," one person pointed out.

"It may depend on where you work. That guy worked in derivatives, right? In my group, we're really focused on executing for our clients," a junior staffer said.

"This whole thing is ironic. This guy complains about a lack of ethics and then goes and stabs us all in the back on his way out. He's a jerk," said another.

Many of those I spoke to were surprised that they had not yet received an official memo from the firm reacting to the piece.

"Are they just going to keep quiet? That will be really devastating," one Goldman employee said. (Update: Since this writing, Goldman Sachs has issued a statement in response.)

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