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Goldman writes a very long letter

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Bill Radke: Goldman Sachs today lays out, for shareholders, what happened last year — 2009 was a tumultuous year for Goldman — a year of $13 billion profit for shareholders, and the company’s annual shareholder letter just released is the longest one the firm has ever written. Marketplace’s Amy Scott has taken a look and joins us now live. Hi Amy.

Amy Scott: Hi there.

Radke: What are some of the highlights?

Scott: Well along with that $13 billion profit, Goldman paid back the money it got from the bank bailout. And the letter basically walks shareholders through 2009, which was a pretty tumultuous year for the firm. Of course Goldman got a lot of bad publicity for benefiting from the government’s bailout of AIG and alledgedly profiting from the collapse in the housing market at the expense of its clients. So this letter tries to counter some of those negative perceptions.

Radke: And what does Goldman say about that?

Scott: Well, it talks a lot about things like its efforts to promote small business and support charities. It talks about how the firm puts clients first. The Wall Street Journal counted and Goldman used the word client or clients 56 times compared to just 17 last year. The letter also devotes more than a page to the AIG story, and says that the firm didn’t keep a lot of the money it received and that Goldman would have been fine even if AIG had failed.

Radke: And how have Goldman’s shareholders fared through all this stuff?

Scott: Well the stock doubled last year, so in some ways it seems like this letter is really targeted more at customers and even the public. Goldman’s annual meeting is May 7 and this letter is part of a larger effort.

Radke: Marketplace’s Amy Scott. Amy, thank you.

Scott: You’re welcome.

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