Goldman Sachs 'Traitor' Rips Wall Street Culture

But critics question Greg Smith's insider account
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2012 10:44 AM CDT
Goldman Sachs 'Traitor' Rips Wall Street Culture
In this Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, photo, Greg Smith, the former Goldman Sachs banker, poses for a photograph in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

After rocking the financial world with a New York Times op-ed condemning Goldman Sachs' culture, former company VP Greg Smith is back with a full book: Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story, out today. Going public was the "only way" to "change the system" that takes advantage of clients, he tells 60 Minutes. "The quickest way to make money on Wall Street is to take the most sophisticated product and try to sell it to the least sophisticated client," he says. He wasn't seeking "destruction" in the piece, he says; instead, he writes, he was concerned about the company he loved.

Smith tells the AP his goal is to educate those who know little about the financial world. "If people are not educated about what the issues are, they're powerless," he says. What others are saying about the book:

  • Though Goldman finds "no evidence whatsoever to support" Smith's claims, the book could have "a long-term effect on the firm" when it comes to hiring—if people believe Smith, writes Susanne Craig in the New York Times. Times reviewer James Stewart isn't convinced, noting that the book "fails to deliver concrete examples to back up his sweeping conclusions."
  • The book may have been marketed well, but it doesn't contain much in the way of "bombshell revelations," writes Lauren LaCapra at Reuters. Reviewers haven't been impressed, with some suggesting it's a "misleading" read.
  • Indeed, between interviews and the book, Smith seems to contradict himself on clients' sophistication, notes Nathan Vardi at Forbes. He tells the story, for instance, of a major client who noted that even though he didn't trust Goldman, he'd continue working with the firm.
(More Goldman Sachs stories.)

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