How concerned are Goldman Sachs executives that the bank's image as an emblem of greed might ultimately make them a target of physical violence? Concerned enough that several have obtained gun permits from New York's police department.
"Talk that Goldman bankers might have armed themselves in self-defense would sound ludicrous, were it not so apt a metaphor for the way that the most successful people on Wall Street have become a target for public rage," writes Bloomberg News columnist Alice Schroeder.
Schroeder sent a list of Goldman names to the NYPD, which replied that some have pistol permits but won't say just who. The permits do not authorize them to carry a concealed weapon, her story indicates.
The gun story follows news a few weeks ago that Goldman not only won't hold an official holiday party this year (it didn't last year either), but also reportedly told employees not to organize private parties larger than 12 people during December - not even in their own homes.
The bank's top ranks seem to have spotted the potential for violence early in the crisis. Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, for instance, tried to buy a summer home in a less-exposed location than the Hamptons in 2007, but settled for installing a security gate at his place there early in 2008, according to Bloomberg. That happened just two months before Bear Stearns collapsed.
Goldman's Trading Profits 'Blew Its Cover'
For her part, Schroeder - a former managing director at Morgan Stanley and the author of a book about Warren Buffett - seems to feel the Goldmanites deserve the fury being unleashed in their direction. As evidence, she quotes former Treasury Secretary and former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson's congressional testimony this past summer: "If we had a complete meltdown, it could lead to people questioning the basis of the system."
With a leap of logic sure to dazzle us poor grunts who lack the brainpower of a Morgan Stanley MD, Schroeder brands Paulson's remark a confession that "The bailout was meant to keep the curtain drawn on the way the rich make money, not from the free market, but from the lack of one." Goldman Sachs "blew its cover," she adds, by booking $27 billion in trading revenue in this year's first three quarters.