Monday, 9 November 2009

"Doing God's work" at 85 Broad Street, New York

WARNING! If it’s been a difficult (or an expensive) weekend, you might need to sit down with a strong coffee before reading this.

An article in yesterday’s Times Online outlined the fortunes of the men and women who turn up for work each day at the relatively anonymous offices at Number 85 Broad Street, New York.

The select few who work here make more money than many small countries.

These are the Masters of the Universe of Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of The Vanities.

These are the financial megastars who, once they have become filthy rich by 40, frequently parachute into some of the most senior political posts in the US, understandably prompting accusations that they "rule the world."

Even in this time of global recession, Lady Fortune has smiled with favour on those who work behind the brass-trim glass doors of this prestigious establishment. Average pay this recessionary year for the 30,000 staff is expected to be a record $700,000. Top earners will get tens of millions, several hundred thousand times more than a cleaner at the firm.

Welcome, dear readers, to 85 Broad Street, the home of Goldman Sachs.

Times Online: I'm doing 'God's work'. Meet Mr Goldman Sachs

New Statesman: Goldmans boss says he does "God's work". Who does he think he's kidding?

  • Is this morally acceptable?


  1. Another day, another dollar!

    It doesn’t feel morally acceptable but then at least, you could argue, these guys do a proper job. Put them against a person who kicks a bag of wind around a rectangle of grass and then I’d probably come down on the side of someone who does a job of work.

    What I find more difficult to fathom is how being successful on the financial markets means you are automatically capable of doing a senior political role for the US administration!


  2. EBTG:

    Thanks for the perceptive comments.

    It's always difficult to measure the relative value of, say, a rock star, a brain surgeon, a football legend (Sir Tom Finney, for example....) and a Master of the Financial Universe.

    Where I struggle is when the representative from Goldman Sachs appears to allocoate some form of spiritual brownie points to what he's doing.

  3. Sorry Graham, think I missed the point there didn’t I?

    Your question about it being ‘morally acceptable’ referred to him claiming a divine purpose rather than the astronomical pay cheques he issues – I get it now. Sorry I was distracted by the bank balance (shows you how shallow I am)!

    I guess only God can determine who has the right to claim divine approval for their actions. I may think him deluded but who am I to judge? My morals leave a lot to be desired so I’ll leave it to godlier folk to pass comment on this one!