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Perception of Goldman is company you keep

Business

Well, GOP front-runner Mitt Romney is right about one thing, “Companies are people” too. How else to explain the $2 billion dollars in market value that was wiped off of Goldman Sachs stock on Wednesday after Greg Smith, a mid-level derivatives salesman published a 1200 word kiss-off to his so-to-be former employer in the New York Times.

The screed soon went viral with its allegations that Goldman fosters a toxic culture where naive clients are sometimes referred to as “Muppets”. With apologies to Kermit, Smith’s missive resonated with readers on and off Wall Street because number one, it confirmed what many believe about Goldman, and number two if a guy is going to forfeit a job that pays in the high-six figures, he must really believe what he is saying.

And while the cynic in us continues to debate Smith’s real motives in penning his op-ed, it’s clear Goldman found itself flat-footed when confronted with a pretty predictable P.R. headache.

Rather than ignore the rantings of just one of its 30,000 employees, Goldman put its communications machine into over-drive. A memo from CEO Lloyd Blankfein even outlined the fact that 89 percent of the 85 percent of Goldman employees who responded to a company survey said they believe the firm provides excellent service to its clients. Huh? By my math that means 25 percent of Goldmanites don’t believe that to be the case, or were too lazy to vote. No matter, the firm continued its pattern of protesting too much.

Call it the “you’re not like us” problem. It’s a phenomenon that nearly four years since the global financial system began its implosion still surfaces with regularity in the most high-profile places.

Read the rest of Terry Keenan's column at nypost.com

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