Greg Smith's tell-all about Goldman Sachs put CEO Lloyd Blankfein -- or He Who Rides The Squid -- through a dark night of the soul, one that apparently involved a lot of self-flagellation.
That was the most interesting/disturbing thing we learned from an interview with Blankfein on CNBC Wednesday morning. Fun Fact: The most interesting/disturbing thing we arguably learned from Greg Smith's book, "Why I Left Goldman Sachs," involved a naked Lloyd Blankfein "air-drying." In short, we are getting way too much information about Lloyd Blankfein!
Blankfein said that the allegations in Smith's New York Times op-ed in March, that Goldman bankers regularly mistreated clients and referred to them as muppets, caused him "anxiety" and led to soul-searching at the firm.
"Of course it was damaging to us and jarring to ourselves," Blankfein said, adding that the firm investigated Smith's charges "exhaustively" after the op-ed and again after they got a copy of the book earlier this month.
"Nobody can flagellate themselves as well as Goldman Sachs can," Blankfein then humble-bragged.
Fortunately, Goldman's self-examination revealed to the firm's shock and relief that it treats its clients like the delicate panda cubs they are. And it made Goldman "a better firm," Blankfein said.
Blankfein said that he has not read Smith's book, choosing instead to take some reviewers' advice to "save that hour and a half for something better." Like maybe air-drying.
It is true that the consensus is that Smith's book has little in the way of juicy detail. But it is also true that Goldman Sachs has successfully turned the conversation into one about Smith's book's lameness and Smith's own possibly mixed motivations, so that we can all forget about Smith's broader point -- that all of Wall Street is a Vampire Squid, trying as hard as it can to keep its money hunger obscured.
Certainly one thing Smith's allegations have done is to cause Blankfein and Goldman to work on repairing their public image, of which interviews like Wednesday's are a part. Blankfein has also learned to tone down on the "God's work" self-aggrandizement, saying that Goldman is just doing everything it can to help the little guy.
"Our business and what's good for the economy line up," Blankfein said. "We profit from growth, and we help contribute to growth."
Watch the CNBC segment here: