Saturday, March 17, 2012

What Is it with Greg Smith?

This will be easy to misunderstand so bear with me while I try to explain--but I really don't get the whole Greg Smith thing.  I mean--well, for sure he is s remarkable human story, this young man from a first-class education and top-of-the-line occupational experience who will put his career in the line in order to (as he sees it) speak truth to power   What exactly did he think when he started at Goldman, and when and how did the scales fall form his eyes?  I suppose we will get a chance to find out (Bill Moyers?  Charlie Rose?  Dear God, not Piers Morgan).   I expect I'll  turn a sympathetic ear.

But it can't be just the messenger who catches out fancy.    It must be something about the message--but what?  What in his account actually comes as a surprise to, say, anyone who has done business with Goldman in the last generation, or who watched what Hank Paulson did to Dick Fuld, or who stood hypnotized at the real-time implosion of John Corzine, or who read William Cohan's formidable account of Goldman's long nonlinear history?  Which is to say, all those (of us) who are helping to boot Smith into the viral premier league.  Aside from the fact that one suicidally brave young man was willing to unburden himself, what do we know now that we did not know before?


Taxmom said...

My take on it FWIW is that he has hopes of quitting to become an insider/outsider/writer, following in the footsteps of Michael Lewis. If the writing in the times editorial is any indication, good luck with that, as they say. As for saying anything new, Smith should re-read the 2 paras in Liar's Poker where Lewis sells his first really big pile of cr@p to "his Frenchman" and realizes that in doing so he has made it to the big time.

Anonymous said...

Having watched Goldman support and abuse the mortgage market and the servicing market beginning in the early 2000's, I wonder how bad it must now be if those were the good old days.

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

There is knowledge and there is social knowledge.

Everybody "knew", for example, that Roy Cohn was gay. Or that George Bush is a war criminal. Or that Franklin Roosevelt was crippled. But you could not raise any of these facts in polite company, even though your interlocutors were also in on these public secrets. Roy Cohn, George Bush, and Franklin Roosevelt would have all lost by 'fessing up.

Knowledge sits on a continuum, from personal to social. Greg Smith pushed knowledge of Goldman's business practices a little bit further on the line.