“What are three quick ways to become a leader?a) Execute on the firm’s ‘axes,’ which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit.b) ‘Hunt Elephants.’ In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them.c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.”
— Former Goldman Sachs executive director Greg Smith, in a damning open resignation letter published in the New York Times.
ThinkProgress’ Travis Waldron writes that the letter has “confirmed virtually every negative characterization of the bank.”
Today’s must-read. (via quickhits)
“Kurt Andersen of Vanity Fair penned a great article this month on the comparative lack of cultural innovation over the last 20 years.Andersen notes that in architecture, art, fashion, music and other aspects of popular and consumer culture, there is very little difference between the culture of 20 years ago and that of today.By contrast, think of the enormous differences between 1992 and 1972, or between 1972 and 1952, or 1952 and 1932, or 1932 and 1912. Technology has changed significantly, of course, but styles haven’t… Andersen speculates on a number of reasons, not all of which I find convincing.But one reason occurred to me immediately while reading the piece, which Andersen does eventually address: the fact that culture and media are increasingly dominated by shareholder-interested, risk-averse conglomerates that have too much to lose by taking significant creative initiative…The malaise of large-scale corporate domination of our economy isn’t just political and economic. It’s cultural, too. It’s the slow death of conformity and creative strangulation disguised as cool and individual expression through ironic nostalgia and the commodification of discontent.”