Goldman Sachs says sorry

November 17, 2009

Wall Street’s response to public criticism has mainly been exercises in “never apologize, never explain.”

Which makes today’s mea culpa by Lloyd Blankfein all the more extraordinary. Bloomberg News reports:

“We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret,” Blankfein, 55, said at a conference in New York hosted by the Directorship magazine. “We apologize.”

Such a simple and direct admission should have been made by a number of financial executives months ago, but it is to Blankfein’s credit that he has made it even as the pressure on Wall Street from Washington seems to be diminishing.

Reining in bonus pay and doing more on the charitable front would go a long way toward improving the image of a firm that is still associated in the public’s mind with a large vampire squid. But these words from Blankfein will be felt just as keenly.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

“But these words from Blankfein will be felt just as keenly”

Sarcasm – right?

Posted by StevenKs | Report as abusive

I agree with StevenKs- “Felt just as keenly” is a brash generalization.
Try telling the people, of which I know several, that have lost large amounts of money into Goldman Sachs’ coffers. Long before the market trouble, Goldman has been losing people’s money hand over fist. Bad company, bad management, bad investors. Yet they still draw people.
I’m not there yet, but occasionally its tough to not blame the people losing their money for not researching properly. Dont worry, i’m not about to; not in this period of time. However, the thought occasionally crosses my mind, and it does leave just as quickly.

Posted by Ozzy | Report as abusive

Money is the language of finance. IF Mr. Blankfein is sorry the question remains: how much?

An apology is meaningless. These guys ripped off trillions, knowing they would be bailed out by the American People. Nope, they need to be thoroughly investigated and held accountable. Wholesale confiscation of their private assets and extended jail time should be rigorously, extensively and ruthlessly applied. I recommend revocation of their US citizenship and a speedy deportation to whatever country in the Middle East will accept them.

Posted by vext | Report as abusive

Goldfarce and Sacless are whats wrong in this country. I am a isabled combat vet from Desert Storm living day to day while these aholes pile more amd more jack.. There are alot of us who are watching and waiting. Your days is coming

Posted by p fentononuis | Report as abusive

GS stood by woodenly without offering a helping hand when Lehman Bros was drowned. GS now earns more than half of their profits from overseas becoz the name is stink in US. Sorry for what ? GS should spell out their sins one by one in detail.

Posted by Brown | Report as abusive

Apologies do not cover what the Wall street banks have done to America. If the normal every day citizens of this country were to have committed fraud, do you think we would get off the hook just by apologizing?,,,,Nope ,it would be jail time ,,,so why are these people TOO BIG to live by the same rules, laws , and ethics they expect us to live by? The problem goes much deeper, Lobby dollars fuel the whole mess, the relationship between BOTH parties of congress and the lobby dollar is the root of ALL this countries problems,,,Bar None.

Posted by tincup56 | Report as abusive

Selfishness and greed manifest anywhere they can get a foot hold. GS, our elected representatives, and their brainwashed slaves, value only money and profit.

As individual human beings we mean nothing to them. To say “sorry” is meaningless. Goldman should be making things right by way of action. But an apology is much cheaper and you don’t have to pay tax on it. It does nothing.

Perhaps they should simply let Mr Madoff go home as well. He at least was genuine in his regret. He admitted to everything he did. If “I’m sorry” is good enough for Goldman it should be enough for Madoff.

But somehow I don’t think that’s going to wash. The free market needs to be taken out of areas central to human development and life. Health, education, and housing should not be “for profit” endeavors. As long as the free market is contained to areas that are not central to human life it will be fine.

But once your health, the quality of your mind, and your home become commodities, your life is worth nothing except the paper in your wallet. You cease to be human. As it stands now, you are not a human being unless you qualify by having enough money. This is insanity and a slap in the face to ALL of us. Your plans and your wants mean nothing unless they serve the interests of those in power.

Wake up.

We are not animals. And we should not be content to live as such.

‘To err is human, to forgive is divine’. Should we assume Goldman is playing both the roles. The fact is the bad memories still haunt the investors who lost money. Noboby is expecting sympathy, but expecting them to contribte something to revive the economy. Then may be, the apologies make sense.

Posted by Srini Thotakura | Report as abusive

The $500 million though is really a drop in the bucket compared to the kinds of numbers this company throws around. Its almost insulting in a way, but at this point we are the dog underneath the table and are willing to take whatever scrapes these people want to toss our way.

So are we supposed to get excited about this? I wouldn’t exactly say that, but I wouldn’t completely scoff at it either. They didn’t have any reason or were mandated to do this in anyway. Of course its a blatant PR move, but its not a bad one. Its really in their best interest too for as the economy soars so do their profits. Its really just a win win situation for everyone involved. Some more money possibly in line with the kind of money they’ve been paying out in bonuses would have been nice, but who are we really to complain.

I don’t really blame Goldman Sachs for the financial crisis, they were simply going about their businesses. Looking back at it, things could have been done differently of course, but hindsight is always 20-20. Its refreshing to see someone step up to the plate and admit that they didn’t handle things as well as they could have. Is it sincere? Probably not, but at this point its all we’re going to get and its better than nothing.

Check out my blog on the Goldman Sach’s penance offering at…. ldman-500-million-penance/

[...] Goldman Sachs says sorry Such a simple and direct admission should have been made by a number of financial executives months ago, but it is to Blankfein’s credit that he has made it even as the pressure on Wall Street from Washington seems to be diminishing. [...]