Guest Post: Lloyd Blankfein's Days Are Numbered As Chairman Of Goldman Sachs

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charlie Gasparino

Lloyd Blankfein's Days Are Numbered as Chairman of Goldman Sachs

It's a testament to the odd world in which we live that when a Wall
Street firm pays a $550 million fine by conceding negligence in how it
dealt with clients, its stock surges, adding billions of dollars in
market value for the firm's shareholders.

But that's what's happening to Goldman Sachs, as it reached its long
awaited settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over how
it sold a basket of mortgage related debt to investors in 2007.

Back when the SEC brought the case, the conventional wisdom on Wall
Street and the financial media was that Goldman didn't have to settle --
the case was weak and Goldman is, after all, Goldman.

As I wrote on these pages back then, Goldman would have to settle
because: (a) the SEC dug up some real questionable activity; and (b) no
Wall Street firm, not even one with the ties to government that Goldman
possesses can go to war with its primary regulator.

Now that Goldman has indeed settled, the news is being spun, again
mostly by the financial media, that the deal with the SEC was a victory
for Goldman's CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who survived the investigation
largely unscathed, paying a measly $550 million to the government
(equivalent to a few days trading gains at Goldman) and without having
to give up any power, such as relinquishing his role as chairman of the
board, as senior executives both inside Goldman and at competing firms
believed would be part of any settlement.

Well, if history is any guide, Blankfein may not go tomorrow, or even
next month, but sometime in 2011, Blankfein will at the very least no
longer be chairman of Goldman, and may also be forced out of the firm

If you don't believe me ask former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill. Like
Blankfein, Weill (at least on paper) was a good CEO from an operational
standpoint. Following the creation of Citigroup in 1998, shares of the
big bank soared. The bank was what's known as a Wall Street darling for
its strong earnings and a surging stock price, and Weill was regarded as
the King of Wall Street, having engineered the largest financial deal
ever when he merged his company, the Travelers Group brokerage,
insurance and investment banking empire, with commercial banking
powerhouse Citicorp.

At the height of his power, Weill suddenly popped up on the radar
screen of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Before Spitzer got
involved with hookers and became a TV host, he was the sheriff of Wall
Street, looking to right wrongs from the last great scandal, the
internet bubble where firms sold worthless dotcom and tech stocks to
unsuspecting investors. Emails he uncovered showed that Weill at least
did something stupid, if not fraudulent: He pressured an analyst, Jack
Grubman, to inflate his stock rating on telecom giant AT&T, which
was an investment banking client (Weill also sat on AT&T's board,
while AT&T CEO Michael Armstrong sat on Citi's board)

Grubman wrote in an email that as a favor for upgrading the stock,
Weill got his kids in an exclusive pre-school. The scandal, was
described by the Wall Street Journal, as a "kid pro quo."

Weill continued to deny wrongdoing and was never charged. Citigroup,
however, was charged with fraud and ended up paying a $400 fine to
settle the matter, but Weill appeared to have retained his control of
the bank. The initial reaction in the press and among his peers in the
financial business was that Weill had won, by having the bank pay a
relatively small fine, and his status as CEO and the King of Wall Street

Not quite. A few months later, Citigroup announced that Weill was
stepping down as CEO, handing that job to Chuck Prince, who basically
negotiated the settlement package. Citigroup maintained that the two
moves were unrelated. But people in Spitzer's office told me they really
weren't: While negotiating the settlement, Citigroup's board made it
clear to investigators that Weill's days were numbered at the top of the
firm that he founded. Spitzer was merely affording Weill a graceful
exit in an effort to end the case.

Full disclosure: I have no knowledge that Goldman's board has tacitly
agreed to pull a Weill on Blankfein and has plans for him to step
aside, but the circumstances involving the two men are so remarkably
similar. While Blankfein wasn't directly involved in the questionable
trade that landed Goldman in trouble, he is responsible for remaking
Goldman into predatory trading culture that has caught the attention of
regulators, Congressional committees (recall Sen. Carl Levin badgering
Goldman traders for selling "shitty" investments to their clients) and
hurt Goldman's once stellar reputation, as Weill's actions hurt

Some would say that's where the comparisons end; Citigroup deals with
the general public that buys stocks through its brokerage unit (Smith
Barney) and makes deposits in its branch banking offices. Goldman deals
with large sophisticated investors who couldn't care less how Darwinian
the company behaves.

That used to be true, but no more. Goldman's image has been battered,
not as bad as say a company like BP, but not far behind. And image does
count these days given the scrutiny and oversight placed on Wall Street
and the banks following the financial collapse-induced bailouts.

Now that financial reform has been passed, Goldman will have to cut
back on some of that aggressive trading that powered its earnings and
was Blankfein's forte. That means it will have to devote more and more
resources to developing its client business and relationships,
convincing blue chip companies that it is the right firm to handle
delicate negotiations involving mergers, acquisitions, and other
corporate financing assignments.

More and more, these clients do care about image (ask yourself why
has so many top companies embraced the useless but politically correct
"green agenda"). In fact some have already jettisoned Goldman as
scrutiny of the firm grew over the past year.

Who is the right guy to change Goldman's image to fit the new
paradigm it faces? It's not Lloyd Blankfein and that's why he won't

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jeff montanye's picture

wasn't citigroup's fine bigger than $400?  like a million times?

MountainHawk's picture

I was wondering about that myself. I was like damn I could even afford to pay that.

zhandax's picture

They qualify for gubmint accounting.

Cheeky Bastard's picture

400$ ? I think he meant to write 400M. Or not ?

RoRoTrader's picture

Cheeky, even I am NOT that fucking stupid and I get a pass on the math question.......$400? Well, allright, maybe, but I have moments out of the blue.......and I was run over by a car at 5 and survived it to learn oil trading from scratch........beat that fuckers.

Steak's picture

i've been hit by several cars...and chopped my finger off and had a dog bite me in the face and been electrocuted...beat THAT 

Sqworl's picture

Cheeky: $650M paid by Drexel..highest fine ever paid by gangsta!

Spitzer's picture

 Bove was right yesterday. I guess a blind squirrel can find an acorn now and then.

Cheeky Bastard's picture

Oy, look who is here; my favorite AG. How are ya Spitz. 

VK's picture

I bet the Dark Lloyd will get a hefty payoff when he leaves, maybe he becomes the new treas. Sec. I mean doing God's work requires good money. Something the catholic church knows well and has perfected.

MsCreant's picture

Lloyd to replace Geithner...You have to be a proven crook to get into gov.

Rainman's picture

.... a proven " under-the-radar " crook is preferred, thus disqualifying Lloyd. 

nmewn's picture

Goldman Parachutes?

digalert's picture

Well now that the hokum SEC and Goldy have sealed a deal, it's time to wrap up the criminal investigation and issue indictments...

<cue Jeopardy music>

...there is a criminal investigation, isn't there?

Implicit simplicit's picture

The precedent has been set for many more lawsuits by the 1000's of others who purchased CDOs from gladman sucks.

Problem Is's picture

" criminal investigation..."

Fabulous Fuckin' Fab
One count of jay walking...

demsco's picture

I thought Charlie said this place was Zero Intelligence, why are we reading an article from him on here? No offense, I like him more since he left CNBC, but he is still, well, Gasparino.

RoRoTrader's picture

the rat is sniffing for its next hole.

Steak's picture

its bizarre...even Drury and Hobbs have gone from total heroes to drivel pushers in very short order

GlassHammer's picture

God help us if he find his way to a government job.


VK's picture

Hello! Where have you been? God helps him remember, he is after all doing god's work. That does logically imply that god hates us all.

God's picture

Oh yes he will be helped. With an aggressive case of colorectal cancer. The DNA has been spliced, polyps have been planted.

God does not appreciate a shill.

Lloyd will live out his last days fulfilling his mitzvah. He will make aliyah.

Lloyd will leave you not long after Mr. iFad. Neither will be joining me.

Careless Whisper's picture

well i'm thinking that barry is a one-termer. he's even hinted at it. plus i don't think he likes the job. he can make a ton on a book deal and giving motivational speeches. next in line is hillary and lloyd will be glad to help her. i would expect him to be her treasury secretary. would anyone be surprised at this scenario?


Papasmurf's picture

He certainly has the requisite ethics.

Amish Hacker's picture

The important part of that scenario is that Mr. Blankfein would be required to sell off his Goldman assets prior to his coronation---we wouldn't want to create any future conflicts of interest, don't you know. And since it would be patently unfair to punish him with capital gains taxes on the asset sales we forced him to make, he would be granted a one-time exemption from the IRS. Voila! Gazillions of profits safely cashed out tax free.

After a year or so of working for the government (can't you just see the MSM stories about how this patriotic American is taking the mother of all pay cuts in order to serve his country?), Lloyd could go back to doing God's work in the private sector. Or just lying on a beach somewhere.

If Lloyd has any questions about how the process works, I'm sure Hank Paulson can explain it to him

David Fiderer's picture

While Sandy Weill relinquished the CEO position, he remained Chairman of the sprawling financial conglomerate until 2006.   That's not exactly being forced out.  Plus, he was in his 70s and the scope of Citigroup's operations were such that it made sense to separate the CEO and Chairman functions.

The testimony of Goldman's CFO before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission indicates that Goldman is not about to concede that any of its standard practices were unethical. 

The comparison seems strained.


Nikki's picture

DOJ is too busy to investigate Wall Street. Nothing to see there anyway.. How about that Lebron fellas move to Miami ?.

Misean's picture

Yeah, I intinctively believe the opposite of what The Gasbag says.  And Weasel semi-retired to the board at 70 something, so I dunno about this whole analogy.

Given how dirty ol' Loyd is, I'm sure all he has to do is hint that he might look at the skeleton key to the closet and his adversaries will pull out the knee pads.

Not gonna happen.

zaknick's picture

Jesse said:


Despite the rumours and rationales spread by hedge funds and trading desks like this commentary here, this was obviously a bear raid tied to today's stock options expiration. No profit motivated professional trader dumps positions like this and sells against themselves unless the motive is to drive down the price and run the stops, clearing out the weak hands and taking profits from short positions in related trades. Now that 'sales by the IMF' has gotten tired through repetition it looks like 'liquidation by John Paulson' (JP) is the new bear trade precious metals boogeyman. More likely "JP" is in reality "JPM."


Very interesting. That moron CB_ZH been running his mouth about being bearish on gold for months ... I didn't see him utter a peep in the last few weeks about this supposed stance of his and I've been reading every article and comments (especially the ones on gold) here for months. Why not mention the options expiry tomorrow?


Cause you folks are shorting too, eh?  about 1/4 way down on the page.

Cheeky Bastard's picture

Dude, first of all; go fuck yourself. You have been here for 3 months; in which I was mostly absent from ZH and/or wrote mainly, well not mainly, only about credit and derivatives. Log on to ZH chat and ask the folks there what were my thoughts on gold. Go on, do it. The last time I officially mentioned Gold was when I wrote the LBMA LPMCL article in May and in which I discussed the exchange and clearing mechanics not Gold trading or future Gold trends per se.

I know about price movements before Op-Ex for years now, and that is neither anything new nor anything hidden from the average trader. Just because I abstain from entering among a bunch of Idiots who either talk their book or can only cite me currency collapses as their arguments doesn't mean I am/was quiet about Gold. Its just that I dont have any wish nor urge to participate in discussions where anyone who doesn't adapt to the message echoed by the Gold Bug echo chamber gets junked or called a troll. 

Every major market participant knows and agrees with the thesis Gold is being suppressed in price for decades now; and everyone adapts their trading to that fact by default. But this is not about manipulation; but about correlation between monetary supply indicators and behavior of commodities when there is deflation/liquidity crunch. Plues TA [which I dont use. Ever] agrees with most gold traders who are not stupid/blinded by dogmas. 

So before you open your mouth next time and try to insult me; back up your shit or get the fuck out. 


TonyV's picture

Wow, it sounds like he really touched a nerve man.

Cheeky Bastard's picture

What ? Is that the best you got ? Idiots like you drove off most of the good commentators from ZH, and congratulations, there is, as of now, one less. It has been nice, and I can not express my gratitude enough to Tyler, Marla and other [sane and rational] participants of this site, but that was it from me. Enjoy the "Gold to 1M; currency collapse within a week; buy guns and ammo" echo chamber. 

zhandax's picture

I try to ignore douchebags, but I will make an exception and be the first to junk this one.


Steak's picture

Excessively self righteous...punctuation nazi (on the internet of all places) hominem attacking style...unfunny

i would have just said shithead but your comments were screaming out for a more descriptive, long-form breakdown.

and lastly...even IF cheeky was short gold (which one can only say IF since he doesn't advocate any trading position in his comments in this thread) finance, EVERYONE talks their book...the vast majority of readers here get that and don't resent someone when they do just that.

Chill out, read the articles, comment on ideas with your own ideas.  who might find you have something interesting to say.

Paper CRUSHer's picture




Hulk's picture

Don't let the inverse Bravos get to you CB. Many of us gold bulls know now is not the time to buy pm's, know we are in a massive deflationary environment where cash will be king, etc.I for one, have enjoyed , for the past several days, your responses to my fellow brethren!

I am a Man I am Forty's picture

Cut it out CB, douche bags come with the territory.  Most people that read ZH don't even post.  I've been here a long time, don't post that much, but always enjoy reading your stuff.  So have a cocktail and carry on man!!

Amish Hacker's picture

Don't let the idiots drive off another good commentator from ZH, Cheeky. No one else here has your not-one-step-back irreverence for authority, your technical market savvy, or your hilarious blue-streak vocabulary. The trolls will never understand that ZH is about building community, because sharing is the last thing on their mind. Never give up.


"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

                                                                          Oscar Wilde

DavidC's picture


Grow up.

How long have you been posting on ZH?

CB's semicolons were not erroneously placed.


Sqworl's picture

Friends, no worries Zatfag will go the way of Master

bbbilly1326's picture

the casual homophobia allowed here is why I contribute no more money to ZH, though I read it every day.

Nictrades's picture

Reading this nonsense reminds me why I hardly ever comment despite being a reader since this was a funny little place on blogspot.

I am not sure exactly how long CB has been predicting a correction for gold but its definately a couple of months.

If you people were really interested in buying and holding some gold you would view this correction as a great buying opportunity to get in at a good price.  You people remind me of the guys who used to call in to Cramer complaining short-sellers shorted "your stock".  Markets go down when prices get to high to attract new buyers and when prices get to a point to attract new buyers they go up again.  Buy dips not rips.




Steak's picture

i understand your difference of opinion here but surely you have read other ZH contributors who are gold bulls and advocate the strategy you outline above.  i for one have heard all sides of the gold debate enough times that i'm inclined each time to just skip right to the point where we concede only time will tell who is right.  at least then you can tell who is peddling dogma and who is trying to think critically about the issue.

comment more nictrades.  since you've been reading so long you're in a better position than most to write takedowns of ideas with which you disagree.

wowser22's picture

Hey Cheeky:

ILLEGITIMUS NON CARBORUNDUM. "Don't let the bastards grind you down”


Votewithabullet's picture

He's gone.The difference of opinion killed cheeky bastard.

doolittlegeorge's picture

Boy and it didn't take Mr. Market long to take a dive either, did it?  And to think "no one seems to make the connection" tho everyone knows why.  Once in the dirt bag corner, always in the dirtbag corner those Goldmans.  And to think they can't even talk about their profane disrespecrability but instead mouth platitudes to "Judea" and talk about how "our negro finally did his job."  I love it!  Needless to say you won't see this set grabin' "Mr. Sunshine" and high talin' to Tel Aviv to support the cause!  Oh, yeah--and if any of you clowns think this is a victory I have a, ahem "Town" to sell you right now.  I hear it's REAL cheap--just ignore all that chit-chat about "gettin' cheaper every minute."