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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
Buffett
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
“love.”

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
to...

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
relations.

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
thought...

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

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
March.)

 

 

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Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:45 | 210811 20smoney
20smoney's picture

Beautiful!

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:53 | 210824 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Simply brilliant!

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:56 | 210828 FoolMeTwice
FoolMeTwice's picture

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

Excellent!

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:46 | 211155 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 | 211175 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 | 211278 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Yes, you missed it - the Morts are their own worst enemy.

Sat, 01/30/2010 - 02:19 | 211746 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 | 211897 colonial
colonial's picture

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

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:58 | 210830 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 | 210877 CB
CB's picture

goners.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:28 | 210941 jakeman
jakeman's picture

Swimming with the fishes. How curious.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:07 | 210994 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 | 211798 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Wrong. It is still on my Bloomberg. You all are beyond paranoid (not the healthy kind).

I would love to see what you all go through when you get home late at night -- looking for the boogey man in every dark corner. Make sure you check under the bed - twice.

Sat, 01/30/2010 - 14:34 | 211915 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 | 212722 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Yes sir Colonel Flag (who, like you, tells people he is with the DIA just so they will think he is with the CIA, when really he is with the CIC.....)

It was not pulled. You all need to know where to look on Bloomberg.......sad paranoia coupled with hubris in thinking the rest of the world is watching every comment on ZH. Wow.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:03 | 210838 waterdog
waterdog's picture

5 star

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:04 | 210841 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 | 210865 strike for retu...
strike for return to reality's picture

Larry Summers won't believe it.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:31 | 210874 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 | 210887 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 | 210969 BoeingSpaceliner797
BoeingSpaceliner797's picture

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

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:53 | 211172 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

damn, harsh. ;-)

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:44 | 210888 mike_a_nsd
mike_a_nsd's picture

Was the article taken down from Bloomberg???

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:45 | 210892 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Can I grovel now?

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:50 | 210903 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

More unadulterated goodness, in case you missed it:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=a2X3hNaWcbeg

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:15 | 211001 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 | 211076 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 | 211147 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Ah, thanks for politely setting me straight bro!

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 19:25 | 211529 Ruth
Ruth's picture

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

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:51 | 210904 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 | 210906 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 | 210910 gossamer
gossamer's picture

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

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:53 | 210978 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

GS morality and populaim is viewed by Main Street as immorality and elitism. I am sure the inverse is also true.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 17:02 | 211333 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Silence pleebian! Your feeble neural receptors are no match for my rocket surgery quantum flux business major bio-processor of a brain. No mortal can work compounding interest equations on spreadsheet excel like us bankers.

Pleeb: "But that just requires high school level algebra. You're not even using calculus or differential equations!"

Uh... Bah! You have to pay for talent of my magnitude! Now return to whatever menial task you were assigned at birth.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:24 | 210937 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 | 210944 velobabe
velobabe's picture

question what were they thinking with Abby Joseph Cohen?

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 15:05 | 211189 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 | 211240 velobabe
velobabe's picture

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

 

 

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 12:47 | 210971 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

//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 “love.”//

Looks like Michael's marriage may be on the rocks, which is too bad--I think I remember him having a real hottie wife.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:05 | 210993 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 | 210996 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Wait - the Devil has to pee?

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:26 | 211022 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I have just one question.

Does the Inside of the GS building really look like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory?

That is the word I am hearing from other Morts.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:50 | 211080 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

To: Michael Lewis
From: Lloyd B.
Dear Micheal,
I just read your memo. Brilliant. Such contributions will not be forgotten. We are very pro bono and will remember when the time arrives to hand out good stuff. As for that last idea of yours – “We must remind Morts that we share a common enemy: them.” This is genius. Yes, turn the Morts towards Washington by suggesting that we and the Morts share a common enemy in Washington. All I can say is here, with this, you rise into the high, clear, sunlit uplands of genius. I love it. I am laughing so hard I better find a urinal before I wet my pants. Yes, yes, use the sarcasm of Morts and Goldman Sacks being a community of interest to suggest that the Morts and Washington have a community of interest. Oh man, this is rich. Drive them right into the holding pens and slaughter houses of inside-the-beltway, where we can change the rules, and fleece them not a few million dollars at a go, but for billions and billions. “Holding pen and slaughter house” – too tame, too tame, man, not an image anywhere near your genius. Try this: herd the krill into the jaws of bubble blowing whales. No, no, still doesn’t work. Still too tame. Hell, when the krill get swept into the jaws of the pod, the poor krill are probably saying to themselves that they are like human creatures being herded to Washington to be concentrated and prepared for the waiting jaws of Goldman Sacks. Keep up the good work, LB

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 16:27 | 211285 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 | 211074 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

To: Michael Lewis
From: Lloyd B.
Dear Micheal,
I just read your memo. Brilliant. Such contributions will not be forgotten. We are very pro bono and will remember when the time arrives to hand out good stuff. As for that last idea of yours – “We must remind Morts that we share a common enemy: them.” This is genius. Yes, turn the Morts towards Washington by suggesting that we and the Morts share a common enemy in Washington. All I can say is here, with this, you rise into the high, clear, sunlit uplands of genius. I love it. I am laughing so hard I better find a urinal before I wet my pants. Yes, yes, use the sarcasm of Morts and Goldman Sacks being a community of interest to suggest that the Morts and Washington have a community of interest. Oh man, this is rich. Drive them right into the holding pens and slaughter houses of inside-the-beltway, where we can change the rules, and fleece them not a few million dollars at a go, but for billions and billions. “Holding pen and slaughter house” – too tame, too tame, man, not an image anywhere near your genius. Try this: herd the krill into the jaws of bubble blowing whales. No, no, still doesn’t work. Still too tame. Hell, when the krill get swept into the jaws of the pod, the poor krill are probably saying to themselves that they are like human creatures being herded to Washington to be concentrated and prepared for the waiting jaws of Goldman Sacks. Keep up the good work, LB

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 16:47 | 211314 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

errr... “We must remind Morts that we share a common enemy:them[selves].1"? Kinda more sensible? Even more brilliant? if glaringly subtle?

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:57 | 211088 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 | 211166 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

*snort*

Add insult to injury - use counterfeit c-notes.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 15:46 | 211174 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 | 211187 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

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

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 14:47 | 211160 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 | 211300 carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture

November is gonna make some strange bedfellows.

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 17:53 | 211410 fallst
fallst's picture

Free Sergey!  What happened to him??

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 19:48 | 211547 Anonymous
Sat, 01/30/2010 - 14:38 | 211917 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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