As Jim Chanos, who pointed out this Bloomberg piece “Arming Goldman With Pistols Against Public,” remarked, “Well, it appears that Goldman’s Best and Brightest may be hedging their goodwill built up by doing ‘God’s work’.”
I’ve heard the expression, “Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel,” but I can’t recall an exhortation that links faith with carrying firearms (although I suppose that gap in my knowledge may reflect a cloistered upbringing). The only heavily armed observant types I can think of in the US are the Branch Davidians, and we know how that movie turned out. Goldman has always been a cult, but one has to wonder what models they are now channeling.
In all seriousness, having grown up in a parts of the country where hunting season (deer and turkey) were a big deal, I get nervous when people who have little or no history of using firearms start toting them. There are rules most people who use guns routinely are taught, and my experience is that those individuals are far more careful than newbies who have seen way more movie and TV gunplay than real world use.
If you are worried about self defense, programs like this one (I’m not endorsing it , just using it as an example) are a safer and more effective solution to the real problem (what good is your pistol if you are jumped from behind?)
End of sermon and back to fun. From Alice Schroeder at Bloomberg:
“I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.
I called Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag to ask whether it’s true that Goldman partners feel they need handguns to protect themselves from the angry proletariat. He didn’t call me back. The New York Police Department has told me that “as a preliminary matter” it believes some of the bankers I inquired about do have pistol permits. The NYPD also said it will be a while before it can name names…..
Has it really come to this? Imagine what emotions must be billowing through the halls of Goldman Sachs to provoke the firm into an apology. 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.
Yves here. This isn’t hard to understand at all. Goldman ran afoul of one of Machiavell’s big rules: “Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.” Or its 21st century variant: “You can take from all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot take from all the people all of the time. ” But the banksters, and Goldman in particular, have been determined to push the limits of those formulas, and are learning, much to their surprise, that they neglected to consider the intensity of the backlash that might result from their considerable success in extracting rents from the populace. Or did they? Back to Schroeder:
Common sense tells you a handgun is probably not even all that useful…As for carrying a loaded pistol when you venture outside, dream on. Concealed gun permits are almost impossible for ordinary citizens to obtain in New York or nearby states.
In other words, a little humility and contrition are probably the better route.
Until a couple of weeks ago, that was obvious to everyone but Goldman, a firm famous for both prescience and arrogance. In a display of both, Blankfein began to raise his personal- security threat level…He keeps a summer home near the Hamptons, where unrestricted public access would put him at risk if the angry mobs rose up and marched to the East End of Long Island.
He tried to buy a house elsewhere without attracting attention…Then, Blankfein got permission from the local authorities to install a security gate at his house two months before Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed…. Blankfein somehow anticipated the persecution complex his fellow bankers would soon suffer. Surely, though, this man who can afford to surround himself with a private army of security guards isn’t sleeping with the key to a gun safe under his pillow. The thought is just too bizarre to be true.
So maybe other senior people at Goldman Sachs have gone out and bought guns, and they know something. But what?..
There you have it. 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 when the firm’s revenue from trading reached a record $27 billion in the first nine months of this year, and a public that was writhing in financial agony caught on that the profits earned on taxpayer capital were going to pay employee bonuses…
No, talk of Goldman and guns plays right into the way Wall- Streeters like to think of themselves. Even those who were bailed out believe they are tough, macho Clint Eastwoods of the financial frontier, protecting the fistful of dollars in one hand with the Glock in the other. The last thing they want is to be so reasonably paid that the peasants have no interest in lynching them.
Yves here. For the record, in the 1980s, people in the industry were greedy on a much more modest scale. A nice (and I mean nice, not ostentatious) apartment on the Upper East Side, private school for the kids, summer home, nanny, and a BMW or equivalent meant you were successful. And pretty much all i-Bankers, those at Goldman included, were careful not to flaunt their wealth. There was genuine horror when the story broke that Mike Milken made $500 million in a single year. It was seen as not as a titanic achievement, but as confirmation that something crooked must be up at Drexel. Back to the article:
And if the proles really do appear brandishing pitchforks at the doors of Park Avenue and the gates of Round Hill Road, you can be sure that the Goldman guys and their families will be holed up in their safe rooms with their firearms. If nothing else, that pistol permit might go part way toward explaining why they won’t be standing outside with the rest of the crowd, broke and humiliated, saying, “Damn, I was on the wrong side of a trade with Goldman again.”