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CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: Goldman Sachs Chairman & CEO Lloyd Blankfein Speaks with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on “Mad Money” Today

WHEN: Today, Monday, June 19th

WHERE: CNBC's "Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein and CNBC's Jim Cramer on "Mad Money" (M-F, 6PM-7PM ET) today, Monday, June 19th. Following is a link to a clip on Additional video will be available on

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

JIM CRAMER: We've very excited to have a special guest with us tonight. One of the most important people of the financial firm specifically, and the business world in general. The CEO and chairman of Goldman Sachs. Lloyd Blankfein. Lloyd, welcome to Mad Money, good to see you.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Hey, Cramer, good to see you.

JIM CRAMER: Good to see you. Have a seat. Well, we go way back. So-- we can go over a full range of issues. But I am thrilled that you're here. Thank you so much—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Great to be here.

JIM CRAMER: You know, you just-- I want you to just give us a sense of where things are. I mean, you just came back from China, you're obviously following what's going on with the government. You know what's going on with the markets. I think people wanna know what Lloyd Blankfein's just thinking right now about the world.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: No, I'd say-- things aren't that-- things are pretty good. If you look at things, statistically-- you look at the numbers, you look at metrics—the US at virtually you know, actually full employment.


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Low energy prices. Growth. A lot of the metrics are all positive. Most of the areas of the world are growing-- again, not the-- not great trajectory of growth.


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: But they're growing. China is-- and I just got back from China. China's doing-- you know, China's doing okay. Europe, again, 2%-ish. Or just a little bit under that is not so bad, given where our expectations were. There's a lotta things that going wrong, but it's not obvious that they have to go wrong.

JIM CRAMER: Right. How about the United States? What is your feeling about what Trump's doing? I know you have-- obviously, Gary Cohn in the administration. I'd love to know what your relationship with him is, or the treasury secretary, if there still can be one. But whether the administration's fulfilling some of the things that you thought could happen when-- Trump was elected.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Yeah. You know, I can't say that I'm on all fours in line with the administration, you know, across the board.

JIM CRAMER: Well, we'll get to—your tweeting in a second—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: But as far as the economy's going, as far as market's are going-- they represented stimulus-- in the form of lower taxes. Spending on infrastructure. Taking away, maybe, some of the layers and layers and layers and redundant regulations. And that's basically good, certainly good for the market. But generally I think good for the economy. I know that there's some people who believe, as do we all, that sensible regulation is good. But, you know, there was some redundancies. And, you know, there's been a bit of a wax buildup as layers and layers have gotten on it. And no doubt impeded the economy. And he represented-- trying to deal with it. Now, the devil, of course, is in the detail. And where you-- how you look at it depends on what you wanted. But, you know, in any case, it seems to have gotten bogged down in the issue. I'd say the market now is not what he wants to do, but whether he'll be effective in accomplishing it.

JIM CRAMER: Do you think he will? Given the fact that it's late June. We've not seen the-- infrastructure that I know would be great. We-- that I know that you favor. We've not seen the lower taxes. Kinda got bogged down on healthcare and these Russian issues.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Y-- oh, well, I think-- well, it's not gonna retrogress. It's not gonna get to a worse place—

JIM CRAMER: Okay. Fair point—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: So that's one thing—by the way, again, not talking about politics across the board or decisions that you'd make with the--outside of the general economy. But you certainly were looking-- had-- you know, the market was discounting-- in terms of the alternative to Trump, was discounting higher taxes, potentially more regulation. You know, et cetera, et cetera. So already there had to be an adjustment just to get back to the-- neutral. And then, of course, the market is he won't accomplish very much versus he might accomplish a lot. And it's somewhere in between. And that's the variability in the market.

JIM CRAMER: But why did it take so long after this great recession? Why-- it just-- it's just a really much worse time than we realized.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: You know, I'll just-- I'll give you my point of view. This is-- you know, I'm not an economist. But if you ask me I'm more of a history guy than that. But, you know, you had a severe banking crisis, which always takes time to sort out. Because, again, banks are-- in a lotta ways, the transmission mechanism for economic growth. You know, you can change interest rates. You know, but at the end of the day, someone has to lend. And the banks have to be in better shape so they have to be recapitalized. There has to be the legislation-- so if you do it by comparison to the-- to the great depression, that took ten years to sort out. You know, at the end of the day this might also take ten years to sort through. But the big-- the big credit that the-- I think the official sector deserves in this, that it wasn't severe. It wasn't as severe. Obviously it was severe. But not as severe across the board for everyone. We didn't have 25% unemployment in the country. In fact, it never got to—really 10% unemployment. And I think all that stimulus, all that-- interest rates being dropped to zero. All that quantitative easing in this country achieved-- you know, it was a very shallower recession—

JIM CRAMER: Than it could have been—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Everybody's commenting on how shallow the recovery's been. And if you look at how long it lasted-- you know, the last major, major-- you know, catastrophe, if you will, to the economy took, it-- you know, this was-- it was a shallow recession, you could say.

JIM CRAMER: Now, speaking of shallow-- Goldman Sachs got hit in a very shallow way and really came through great. And it's a, kind of, an interesting-- moment. Because-- for instance, as an alumnus of Goldman, I was very proud about how Goldman did during the period. But some people feel that it wasn't right to do well during that period. And that you didn't necessarily get to be able to define your narrative as a successful bank that we should cheer as one that necessarily, but we should jeer because you did so well.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, let me say that this was a, you know, in that-- there were two parts of the crisis, really, for us. One was, I'll call generally, for the-- for the banks as a whole, the existential period.


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Who is-- you know, who's solving? Who isn't? Who had, you know, if you recall, before TARP, we got financing in the public market and also from Warren Buffet. And then the-- then the TARP happened. But it still was a very-- nervous time for all of us. And-- you know, at that point, again, the existential part for banks and for other people and people who rely on banks, companies who rely on bank, which is every company in the long run, it was a very-- you know, it was a very difficult period. And then when we got through, let's say, that existential, when the market had stabilized and we knew-- you know, anybody who was going under was going under, anybody who needed to merge with another entity had merged with another entity, we had, kind of, what, for us and others, but us, especially, the reputational phase, where it went from, you know, kind of, marveling it, how did we do it? How did you do it? To, "How did you do it?" And what did we, you know--

JIM CRAMER: Right. And then justice department—


JIM CRAMER: --gets involved—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: --people looking at. And, of course, n-- none of that, you know, came to anything. But, at the time, obviously very disconcerting. We're a—

JIM CRAMER: But you still—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: --company--

JIM CRAMER: --got fined. I mean—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, we got fined. But if you know, everybody got fined.


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: And we got fined for-- Actually, in some cases, l-- listen, everybody--came through that period, it was like-- as if s-- there musta been a virus. Because every financial-- 16:21:50;02 --institution that was active got fined for the same bad behavior--Which meant it was-- look, at that point, there was a housing crisis. People had lent money on the basis that housing prices could go down, but only a certain amount. And when they went down a certain amount it would be in a narrow area. Not every place at once. Well, housing prices went down essentially, like, 40% everywhere. And that never had happened before. And so people didn't anticipate it. And people got it wrong. And—

JIM CRAMER: And they'll get it wrong again, right?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: They'll get it wrong again. And once you get something wrong it's hard to go back and imagine that somebody-- that you-- -- that it wasn't simply a mistake. It was bad behavior. But who got it right? Did the fed get it right? Did the pundits get it right? Did all the observers of the financial market who were active then say, "You're-- lending too much money against real estate. This is a dangerous thing"? And so-- the whole-- you know, frankly, the whole world got-- it was a bubble that burst. And, in hindsight-- I'm much better at identifying bubbles in hindsight than I am in foresight—

JIM CRAMER: Right. But you're not excusing. I mean, y-- everyone—


JIM CRAMER: --was fined. And there was-- that's the way it worked in the country.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: That's the way it-- well, that's the way it worked. And, you know something? Aside-- not even-- not only am I not-- in-- denying it, I'm not even denying the fairness look how many people that were hurt that were a million miles away from ground zero.


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: And if they-- and they were hurting, people were-- you know, people were looking-- you know, at the end of the day, people borrow too much money, which meant that people lent them too much money. And, you know, if you wanna look around-- it was a bubble. Let's not—make a big mistake like that—

JIM CRAMER: All right, but—


JIM CRAMER: --let's not dwell on the past now. The firm has changed in radical ways, in terms of the way-- it looks. Which I like. You've had the change in terms of-- the personnel. How you get people. It's kind of interesting. Versus when I-- applied-- in the early '80s. And it's—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Do people—know that we worked together for a long time? I don't want to—

JIM CRAMER: Look, you were very kind to me.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: No, no. I have to-- can I take kind of—

JIM CRAMER: Yes, go ahead—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Right. I was very kind to y-- Jim, you've always thought that I was kind to you because you were doing a rotation as a new employee. And so they sent you around from place to place. And you always remark how nice I was to you.

JIM CRAMER: You were incredible—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, I was trading I was in the commodities business at that time. No one ever visited us. The fact that you came down, I was nice to you because we were lonely. No one ever spoke to us. So when you came down, of course I was nice to you because we had company at last.

JIM CRAMER: All I could tell you is everyone treated me very roughly— And you were welcoming. And-- --it was like, I went home and called my mom and I said, "This guy was so nice to me."

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, I don't want to-- again, I don't want to hurt your reputation at all. But people-- I don't think people realize just how-- you know, how good your pedigree is. Because I know you from, again, way back when. And—


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Harvard College, Harvard Law School. And I think people don't know that-- I think people know-- you were the editor of the Harvard Crimson—

JIM CRAMER: Yeah, I was

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Which is the single most prestigious thing you can do at Harvard. The other per-- another person who had that job was Franklin Roosevelt, which really is mindboggling.

JIM CRAMER: Yeah, well—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: That you and Franklin Roosevelt are just gonna answer the same trivia question.

JIM CRAMER: Oh, yes. Thank you, Lloyd, thank you— You know what? We're gonna come back, we're gonna talk more with-- about-- thank you for that. It's-- that's very sweet. Thank you. We're gonna talk more with the chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, in a moment.

JIM CRAMER: We're back with Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. Lloyd, you're tweeting. What is that all about?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: You know, I agree. It's not – for an institutional kind of firm like us, it's not that usual. But I tell you, part of it – you asked me about the financial crisis before. In the financial crisis there was no – nobody knew anything about what Goldman Sachs did.


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: What, you know, the value we create, what we do in the communities. Also, the importance we do in raising capital for people who need capital, helping them create business, hire people, the virtuous circle of employed people buying more – you know, it's quite virtuous as we know it. And I said, "If this ever happens again, I'm not going to allow there to be a vacuum about what we're like. I'm going to go – we're going to have to communicate to the world more of what we do." Which we've done institutionally, but also, there's a personal element to it too. And although the financial crisis, you know, receded a while ago, we kind of never picked up on it. And I just thought—

JIM CRAMER: Three outta six of these, Lloyd, are, I would say, antagonistic to the president.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, I'd say they're comments. Now, I've always commented on certain issues. And this is how I think of it: I don't use that platform for Lloyd Blankfein's personal point of view, because I know I'm interesting to people because my role at Goldman. Now, my role at Goldman, so I – to communicate, and I've done it before by press release you recall – I commented on immigration, I commented on LGBT issues. I commented, obviously on the environment more recently. Spending on infrastructure. And the reason why I do it, it has to fall in my mind, in one of a couple of categories. Either it's something that is kind of in our wheelhouse of expertise, like for – so I comment that it would be very, very bad to let U.S. government default.


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: That's in our wheelhouse. Before Twitter, I did those things by press release. The other thing I'll comment on is when things really affect the ability of our people to be who they are and to do their job and to be effective as professionals. And that's got the LGBT, the immigrant ban, so that people couldn't move around with their spouses when they have had a passport for another country. So I commented on those issues because, really, I kind of have to be the champion of our people. And I owe it, I kind of owe it to the body politic to comment where I have expertise. They could take my advice or not. I don't make decisions. But I do give them our expertise.

JIM CRAMER: Okay, and speaking of wheelhouse, you're doing some different things involving investors that I would never – that you would have been furious at me if I had gone after when I was at Goldman.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Sure, sure, sure. So we are, traditionally, an institutional wholesale business. We deal with big companies, the biggest institutions. Governments.

JIM CRAMER: Richest people.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: And one of the things that we started to do, and this is a little part regulation, because the world kind of favors lending over a lot of other activities that we do, like market making and other kinds of investing. And so what we've done is we've augmented the lending part of our business. And one place where we've thought we could really fulfill an important business purpose, but also an important social purpose, is non-recourse lending to consumers. And so we had this platform called Marcus, which is named after our founder, Marcus Goldman. And we do loans between $3,500 and $30,000. We distribute this online. And now, I'm not – I'm very conscious of the limits of our expertise and what we're good at and what we do.

JIM CRAMER: But it's big data. You obviously are relying on –

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: But see, that's how the world has evolved. Because again, these non-recourse loans that we provide. A lot of the, you know, it's about risk management. It's about digital experience. About distributing things, digitally. It's about algorithmic kind of approaches to risk management. Really in our wheelhouse. Really stuff that historically we are good at. It's also about customer experience. And that, we were not – we had not a lot of experience at that. We imported some of that. But if in the whole 360 degree pie of what you need, that's not the biggest part of this. But we are determined to get that right, too.

JIM CRAMER: But this has to bring down the gross margins. I mean, you are—

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: No, I think, you know, let me just say that the business as it exists today of unsecured lending to individuals is mostly accomplished through credit card balances. And I think, as you know—

JIM CRAMER: They are high.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Most people get charged interest of 17, 18, 19, 20% or more on their credit card balances. When we do something through Marcus, again, we don't have a lot of stores or branch offices. We do things digitally. No fees. Get information online. And loans are made fairly quickly. And, by the way, very, very, very, very easy about, kind of – and flexible on how we organize it. Our rates are three, four, 500 basis points lower than that.


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: And that serves a real purpose. And, by the way, we did a lot of studying of this. And we had a lot of-- sessions. We talked to thousands of people as we were developing this product. And I talked to consumers and users of this. And I'll tell you, they're really good people. Terrific people. They're – who had a little, you know, rain in their lives. Or clouds. Or some need that came up. You know, have to repair a roof. Have to get work done on, you know, on your teeth or your kids orthodonture.

JIM CRAMER: But it –

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: And they just come up in the normal course of life.

JIM CRAMER: But is some of this, I mean, when I worked at Goldman you were supposed to be public service. And it then got determined as being Government Sachs, which was then somehow venal, when it wasn't. Is this an attempt by Goldman to be able to show a more human face than just working with wealthy people?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Let me be clear. This business, the way the margins are in some of the – in the way credit card balances are charged out, there's plenty of room for us to make a great return on this.

JIM CRAMER: Make money.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: And still do something that's beneficial to the consumer. Of course, if it wasn't beneficial to the consumer, we'd have no place in this and had no role. By the way, we just crossed over a billion dollars. And by the end of this year, we'll be crossed two billion dollars. So we wanted to grow it slow to make sure we were doing a good job. But we're going to grow, you know, we're going to grow this thing.

JIM CRAMER: But where are you politically these days? I mean, for instance, I think people didn't understand the Clinton – the Mrs. Clinton role with Goldman. It was not really a speech that your partners were all fired up about, right?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: No, no, no, no. We entertain. We hold a lot of conferences and we hold a lot of – where we inject a lot of content to our client base. And, by the way, our client base is mostly professional money managers. You recall, you remember that. And so we bring in speakers. And sometimes you pay speakers. So we paid her, as a speaker, to talk to our clients. Not to speak – not to speak –

JIM CRAMER: It could have been a concert.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, if it was a rock star it would have cost a bit more money.

JIM CRAMER: Okay. Now how about your relationship with Gary Cohn? Because you talked to Gary every day before. Now, it must – is it – how do you keep this from being a nefarious nexus? And Treasury Secretary Mnunchin. I mean, these are people, old friends. You worked with them for years. How do you deal with that?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, the fact is, and it's sad for me, in a way, that I talk to them – barely talk to them. Talk to them a lot less. And look, you're a little bit sensitive to not wanting to go – and, again, the fact of the matter is I always, in my – anybody in my job would always talk from time to time to the treasury secretary, the national economic advisor. We're one of the biggest underwriters of government debt. So of course you would. But I'm a little, you know, you get apprehensive about it. You know, this is a, kind of, a punishing for us. Not only do we lose people that, at times, we'd like to keep. But when they're in that office, we're a little apprehensive about engaging with them. That happened in the financial crisis when my predecessor, Hank Paulson, was secretary of the treasury. And for a long time, until he got a formal release, he didn't engage me directly. He talked to me through some other official in the department of treasury, which was a little bit, you know, which wasn't as helpful as it might otherwise be. Wasn't as helpful for him, and it wasn't as helpful for us.

JIM CRAMER: Okay, well how about you, Lloyd? If we're coming out of school now. Do you think it would be Google? Would be Facebook? Or would you still go Wall Street? Would you go West with the great opportunities? Would you go East with just paper and money?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, I came out of school and I went to – I practiced law.

JIM CRAMER: A law firm.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: So let's put that aside for almost five years. I'd say, today, you know, I don't know. I like finance. I like the fact that I engage – you know, we're the kind of predicate for a lot of other business activity. So, to me, it's, like, through the course of a day, I'll talk to people, I'll talk to people in retail. I'll talk to people who are industrialists, who are manufacturers, traders. And you know something? It's a very interesting kind of engagement for me. So, I don't know, my after acquired experience has taught me that I must like this, because I've been doing it an awful long time.

JIM CRAMER: And you obviously don't want to leave. You're not up for the, you know, federal reserve chairman. These are things abstract, right?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, kind of abstract.

JIM CRAMER: Right, kind of abstract.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: But right now, you know, I like what I'm doing.

JIM CRAMER: But can we – if you didn't have the Volcker rule, I used to be there when you would print what was known as principles – been a long time – where you would buy customers' goods. And it used to be a much more orderly market when you were allowed to do that.


JIM CRAMER: Volcker has made it so you can't do what you used to do.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: No, well, we're still principles. But it's much more cumbersome, much more difficult. And much more without buying, in my view, without barring any more safety or soundness, just very cumbersome. Because of all the things you could do, you could regulate capital, you could regulate leverage, you can regulate – Volcker Rule is, like, a test of motivation. If you put on a position because you're market making, you're okay, if you're doing it other than in anticipation of a near term customer – who thinks like that?


LLOYD BLANKFEIN: And so it's, you know, there's some aspects of that that have to change. But the overall need to regulate activity is good for us. Look, the biggest risk of Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis is that our counterparties might not be good for us.

JIM CRAMER: Right, not – it's not you.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: We knew where we were. And fine, we were worried about our counterparts. So, to the extent that you have certain things like stress tests, higher capital rules, certain kind of leverage tests that make sense, it's fine. But if you put layers and layers, and belts and suspenders and another belt and another suspender, you bog down the system and you don't get to accomplish your social purpose.

JIM CRAMER: Hopefully that goes away. Now speaking of social purpose, it is important for me to mention, you do a tremendous amount of charity. The firm has always done very – what's known as – it was government service then. But it's accepted and promoted and demanded.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Well, all our people always, you know, when I got to be partner, there were two things. I was taken aside and said there the two things, among others, that we – but very important things. You should have a charitable foundation. We expect you to go on charitable boards and give money away. And the second one was you should organize your life, your professional life, so that if at the end of your life they write an obituary about you and it has nine – this is a little bit morbid – but they write nine paragraphs, no more than three should mention Goldman Sachs. In other words, do something else. Go into public service –

JIM CRAMER: Do something else. That was exactly what I was told by Mr. Menschel.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Run a philanthropy, do something that involves public service and which people do. And there was a period of time where people were scorned for forsaking very high paying jobs at the height of their earning power to leave the company and go into public service. Now, a lot of times when people have that, you know, again, that scornful term Government Sachs as if it were a bad thing, it's sort of implying that we take people from government to support our – it's the other way around. People – government draws – largely, government draws from us. There's some going the other way. But mostly it's government draws talent from us. And they largely don't come back.

JIM CRAMER: Well, there you go.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: They go on to other things.

JIM CRAMER: All right, last thing. Janet Yellen. Doing a good job? Fed chief.

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: I think Bernanke and Yellen, that linkup together, maybe as I said in the beginning of this thing, they are responsible for why we had a – we may be complaining about the shallow recovery. But we didn't have a deep depression. And I think the aggressive way in which they – you know, at the end of the day, if we end up suffering some inflation at the end of the day, which, by the way, there has been no signs of, which everybody was wringing their hands over and still not enough of a sign. There's a playbook for dealing inflation. There is no playbook yet for dealing with deflation. And they managed to avoid that by their, kind of, innovative policies. That they were aggressive. And I say took a lot of courage. Because all the naysayers were saying against them. And were lined up against them. If it went wrong, and you look at it now, and everyone is worried about this, worried about this. But it hasn't gone wrong yet.

JIM CRAMER: All right, let's leave it at that. That's Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. Lloyd, thank you so much for coming on "Mad Money."

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Thank you, Cramer.

JIM CRAMER: Great to talk to you.


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