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Michael Lewis Sends A Memo To Lloyd Blankfein, Pure Unadulterated Comic Genius Ensues

Tyler Durden's picture


Michael Lewis' latest memo to Lloyd Blankfein is a must read. From Bloomberg (and we like the original title much better: Memo To Lloyd, the Morts Need Your Attention)

Goldman Trader Shares Three Big Ideas With Lloyd

To: Lloyd Blankfein

Re: Winning the Public Relations War

Six months ago, with what I mistakenly took to be your
tacit approval, I attempted to address ordinary Americans,
almost as equals.

They envied and resented our firm; I sought merely to
correct their misunderstandings about Goldman Sachs and send
them on their way, so that they might more briskly resume their
quest for gainful employment.

In hindsight, I misjudged their ability to see the reality
of their situation, and of ours. At the time I accepted your
strong suggestion that I never again try to speak directly to
mortals -- or, as you referred to them, “The Morts.”

Now our predicament is suddenly more dire. Ordinary
Americans wish to control not just our pay but our core values:
We at Goldman have long stood for the right of every prop group
to trade against its firm’s customers. If we abdicate that
right, who are we, deep down?

In just the past few days many of us on the Goldman trading
floor have wrestled with that question. We believe that rather
than re-think our core values we should re-think our relations
with the American public.

Hence this memo. Your recent non-verbal signals -- your
habit of passing directly behind my trading desk en route to the
elevators, your selection of the urinal adjacent to my own --
convince me that you continue to value my thoughts.

As it happens, I have recently conducted a thorough study
of the culture of ordinary Americans. Please take the following
ideas in the spirit in which they are intended: a team spirit.
There is no “I” in Goldman Sachs, or in me. Nor will there
ever be.

Idea No. 1: Give the Morts a small, perhaps even illusory,
stake in our upside.

We have all seen the effects on the hearts and minds of our
government officials and business leaders when they sense that
our prosperity might one day be theirs. In the past year Warren
has gone from being a leading critic of Wall Street to
the greatest defender of Wall Street bailouts. Him we needed to
pay hard cash -- most accept less.

That’s perhaps the most curious trait of these ordinary
Americans: you don’t need to give them any money to lead them to
hope that you might. Take Larry Summers, for instance. We both
know that we would never actually employ even this surprisingly
intelligent Mort in anything but the most humiliatingly
ceremonial role. But he doesn’t know that -- and thus he has
done so much for us.

Ordinary Americans

Obviously we can never employ large numbers of ordinary
Americans. But if you stop for a moment and think like a Mort
you will realize that we don’t need to. We need only harness two
more of his many irrational traits: overconfidence, plus a
willingness to ignore the odds -- as evidenced by everything
from his interest in the Lotto, to his belief in what he calls

Each year, for example, Goldman Sachs might announce a
grand national competition, much like “American Idol.”
Finalists will appear before a national television audience to
be judged by a panel of three rather ordinary looking Goldman
executives. On stage they will perform various Wall Street
tricks: negotiating with Tim Geithner, lobbying the Senate
Banking Committee, designing securities that blow up, selling
bonds to Germans, etc.

The winner receives a job at Goldman Sachs. Which brings me

Big Idea No. 2: Give Morts the illusion that they have been
admitted into our realm, and can now truly see who we are and
what we do.

The winner of our national competition, for instance, might
easily be attached to a small Web-enabled, head-top photographic
device. Thus equipped he would become the eyes and ears of Morts
everywhere. As he stumbles around our offices, attempting to
understand that which is beyond his comprehension, he will no
doubt create what ordinary Americans refer to as “comedy.”
Morts love to laugh, to the point where they interpret our most
straightforward remarks as occasions for humor. As we do not
respond to comedy it will not disrupt the flow of our business,
and we can encourage it.

Let me say here that I, like every other Goldman trader,
have admired the lengths to which you have gone to resemble an
ordinary, non-threatening American. Your conscious decision to
forgo muscle definition, along with your persistent
hairlessness, has been nothing less than enlightened public

Only So Much

But there is only so much one human being can do, even
when that being is more than human. Our employees along this new
interface with Mort culture should reinforce your subliminal
message. They should be “normal looking” and trained to mimic
the Mort’s strange, emotional responses to external stimuli.

But the main purpose of any new personal contact with
individual Morts is to address what is perhaps our biggest
problem: the new belief of ordinary Americans that they now,
finally, understand what we do. That our work should be as
simple as “facilitating productive enterprise,” or
“allocating capital.” They have lost their former awe; we must
restore it.

Notice that they do not begrudge professional basketball
players their vast salaries: they can see that those players are
so unlike themselves as to constitute a different species. As
our differences lie below the surface, they are harder for the
Morts to perceive. Closer proximity to us, and our complexity,
will solve this problem. They will soon weary of trying to
comprehend what we do, and go looking for another outlet for
their personal frustrations. Which brings me to my final

Big Thought No. 3: Remind the Morts of their more natural

At the moment they mistrust us, perhaps even despise us,
but their feelings toward us are new and thus shallow. They have
had 30 years of training in hating their own government (the
ultimate example of Mort irrationality). We must remind Morts
that we share a common enemy: them.

(Michael Lewis, a columnist for Bloomberg News, is the
author of “Liar’s Poker,” “Moneyball” and “The Blind
Side.” His next book, “The Big Short,” will be published in



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Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:45 | Link to Comment 20smoney
20smoney's picture


Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:53 | Link to Comment Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Simply brilliant!

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:56 | Link to Comment FoolMeTwice
FoolMeTwice's picture

"We must remind Morts that we share a common enemy: them."


Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:46 | Link to Comment faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

Goldman Sachs enemies with the government? I don't think so. Not in the same way that the Am.Ppl. are enemies with the government, anyway. Idea #3, while funny, is totally inaccurate.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:57 | Link to Comment faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

although it's possible that its satirical nature convoluted itself in my head and I misinterpreted the intent.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 16:18 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Sat, 01/30/2010 - 02:19 | Link to Comment Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

Ya but if you put 2 or more morts in some situation that has enough inaduecies of information or money or whatever. You can always get them to focus the blame on whats right in front of them instead of whats far off and really causing it.

Sat, 01/30/2010 - 13:54 | Link to Comment colonial
colonial's picture

hey, fool me twice, very clever...although Bush really didn't fool anyone

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:58 | Link to Comment FoolMeTwice
FoolMeTwice's picture

But where is the original? Seems pulled from BB. Thank god ZH cached it for eternity :)

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:35 | Link to Comment CB
CB's picture


Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:28 | Link to Comment jakeman
jakeman's picture

Swimming with the fishes. How curious.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:07 | Link to Comment Obnoxio
Obnoxio's picture

Black Helicopters were dispatched to Bloomberg and Michael Lewis is likely being water-boarded as we speak :)

Sat, 01/30/2010 - 09:06 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Sat, 01/30/2010 - 14:34 | Link to Comment CB
CB's picture

it was goners for some time after ZH posted the link.  Just because someone notices a news link is gone doesn't make them unhealthy paranoids.  I thought it was terribly funny that a great satire of gods & morts with Blankfein & GS placed in their appropriate roles was pulled from BB.

Sun, 01/31/2010 - 19:40 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:03 | Link to Comment waterdog
waterdog's picture

5 star

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:04 | Link to Comment Cursive
Cursive's picture

This used to be the purpose of the Fourth Estate.  Now, CNBS just craps on it everyday.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:22 | Link to Comment strike for retu...
strike for return to reality's picture

Larry Summers won't believe it.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:31 | Link to Comment Missing_Link
Missing_Link's picture

The Bloomberg link doesn't work.  Has it been taken down?

I'm not getting how this came about.  Does this trader still work for Goldman?  If so, he must have massive blackmail material primed and ready to think he can walk away from this.  Otherwise, it seems like an automatic pink slip at the very least, if not a lawsuit or a Vegas-style basement beating in the subterranean server room of 85 Broad.  Or maybe a "suicide" like the chief of Davos security  ...

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:43 | Link to Comment Missing_Link
Missing_Link's picture

Ah, I get it.  The part about him being a Goldman employee is apparently part of the satire.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:47 | Link to Comment BoeingSpaceliner797
BoeingSpaceliner797's picture

Wow!  I just looked up eponymous in the dictionary and there you were.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:53 | Link to Comment faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

damn, harsh. ;-)

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:44 | Link to Comment mike_a_nsd
mike_a_nsd's picture

Was the article taken down from Bloomberg???

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:45 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:50 | Link to Comment Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

More unadulterated goodness, in case you missed it:

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:15 | Link to Comment MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

This one may be funnier! Once you understand how anything under 50 Billion rounds to Zero, the whole thing makes so much sense.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:50 | Link to Comment Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

God, how did I miss this brilliance the first time around?

"Let’s assume AIG transferred $12,880,560,250.34 of taxpayer money to Goldman Sachs. A Goldman outsider, asked to round this number, might call it $12,880,560,250.00. That’s not how we look at it; at Goldman we always round to the nearest $50 billion, so anything less than $25 billion rounds to zero."

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:39 | Link to Comment MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Ah, thanks for politely setting me straight bro!

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 19:25 | Link to Comment Ruth
Ruth's picture

Yes, more enlightenment on rounding hump backs, shall we go play cue ball anyone?

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:51 | Link to Comment gossamer
gossamer's picture

Evidently the article went the way of the Do Do Bird.  I know the average ZHer will be shocked by this.  Thanks Tyler for preserving it's splendor.  Michael Lewis is a gem.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:53 | Link to Comment trav7777
trav7777's picture

What about those of us who comprehend everything that they do at GS, see pretty much right through them, and still hate them for it?  You know, because it's like kinda immoral...

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:55 | Link to Comment gossamer
gossamer's picture

Kinda immoral??  How about firing squad immoral?  I think that's a better description.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:53 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 17:02 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:24 | Link to Comment master_of_puppets
master_of_puppets's picture

ahh, the true essence of comedy:  the truth presented tragically to the point of tears.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:30 | Link to Comment velobabe
velobabe's picture

question what were they thinking with Abby Joseph Cohen?

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 15:05 | Link to Comment Howard_Beale
Howard_Beale's picture

AJC is actually a body that can be morphed into. Suitably unattractive, devoid of any gender that can be identified with, the ultimate "It" is simply a robotized carcass that any exec at GS can step into for public appearances.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 15:39 | Link to Comment velobabe
velobabe's picture

it was tough to look at, an "it" strategist.



Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:47 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:05 | Link to Comment GS
GS's picture

Lloyd to Bloomberg: "We are a huge custy of your bloomberg terminals, play nice and take the article down"

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:08 | Link to Comment Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Wait - the Devil has to pee?

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:26 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:50 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 16:27 | Link to Comment koaj
koaj's picture

yes and surprisiginly the Oompa Loompas at 85 Broad make up the majority of their prop traders. Their stubby little hot dog fingers are the cause of most erroneous prints.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:46 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 16:47 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:57 | Link to Comment DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

I like to think of them more like patron saints than roman gods. That way, crucifixion is easier to visualize

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:50 | Link to Comment Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture


Add insult to injury - use counterfeit c-notes.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 15:46 | Link to Comment MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

UR, baby, don't you know? We are all counterfeiters now!! Money is a simulacra which hides the truth that there is no real economy any more.

Go ahead babe, print all you like! Load those bad boy traps up. If only the entire US Treasury could be used as bait in the world's largest sting operation (big rat trap)... at least then the money would be worth something.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 15:03 | Link to Comment DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

yum, the mousetrap should have a rolled up tarp on the other end

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:47 | Link to Comment Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Ah yes, and regulations more as guidelines. That way, it's easier to pick and choose.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 16:37 | Link to Comment carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture

November is gonna make some strange bedfellows.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 17:53 | Link to Comment fallst
fallst's picture

Free Sergey!  What happened to him??

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 19:48 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Sat, 01/30/2010 - 14:38 | Link to Comment colonial
colonial's picture

Thank you Michael. 

Got in the biz in 85 and Liars Poker had a big impact.  I was raised a stock jock following the 55 Water Street Lehman playbook so reading LP was a wake-up call.  You fit right in at Zero Hedge.


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