Our new Marketplace Crash Course is here to help. Sign-up for free, learn at your own pace.
Kai Ryssdal: Goldman Sachs is often called the most powerful investment bank on Wall Street. Because it is. But the years since the financial crisis haven’t been kind. A former member of its board of directors is on trial this week for insider trading. Goldman was involved in the botched Facebook IPO. So one might reasonably assume the bank’s annual shareholder meeting today would be tempestuous.
Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore was there.
Heidi Moore: Sister Barbara Aires, of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, still remembers the day that Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein joked that his firm was “doing dod’s work.”
Barbara Aires: Well, we weren’t particularly thrilled with the outcome of that particular “dod’s work” at the time.
She means all the financial hanky-panky that led up to the crisis. Sister Barbara braved the rain and intense security today to urge Blankfein to use his powers for good. She was one of 200 shareholders who attended Goldman’s annual meeting in Jersey City, N.J.
Shareholder Stephen Viederman didn’t mind the schlep.
Stephen Viederman: This is always good theater, if nothing else.
But there was more laughter than dramatic tension. Blankfein, who is known for his sharp wit and skeptical expressions, was on his best behavior, says Sister Barbara. She jokingly asked him for a job. He retorted that he couldn’t outbid her celestial boss.
Aires: I’ve seen him when he was a little upset, and today I thought he handled himself quite well — tempered, allowed everybody to speak. He didn’t cut anybody off.
Only about seven shareholders in the sparse room asked questions. Blankfein’s thorough responses seemed like part of Goldman’s friendly image makeover. In an ongoing charm offensive, the firm embraced the masses today to join Twitter. In fact, the meeting was so calm that Viederman, a shareholder, noticed that at least one member of the board of directors was taking care of other business.
Viederman: I did, while I was in the back of the room watching the dynamics, see at least one doing his BlackBerry.
No shareholder spring here. Goldman’s investors voted for everything Goldman’s management wanted.
In New York, I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.