Stephen Foley: While millions cast aspersions, Greg, I believe you. But, tell me, why now?

 

US Outlook Call me, Greg. Three days after your explosive resignation letter, lobbed like a grenade over your shoulder as you walked out the door of Goldman Sachs, and you are being traduced across the City of London and Wall Street.

I'm sure you expected to be branded a traitor for calling Goldman on the "toxic" culture you saw around you, and perhaps you realised people would suspect your motives. Obviously, you knew some people would angrily disagree with your characterisation of the firm – not just the Kool-Aid drinkers and the spin doctors, but thousands of Goldmanites, too.

But did you realise this: that people would say even you don't believe what you wrote? That your New York Times piece was, in effect, a lie?

All the conversations about whether you are a hero or a villain, a whistleblower calling it like it is, or a guy who wanted to punish his bosses for giving him a paltry bonus – all those conversations among people who know nothing about you – are haunted by the question: why now?

You'll have noticed cynics pointing out how you made your move during "quitting season", those few weeks after last year's bonuses are paid. Maybe you've seen that graph, plotting "Right to bitch about banking" against "Years that one has received a bonus more than 50 per cent of base pay" and suggesting that you, after 12 years, are at the low end of the curve. Much of the invective has mocked you for being shocked, shocked to find that gambling and short-term profit making are what gets Goldmanites promoted.

The implication is that few people believe you when you write that the environment at Goldman now is "as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it" and that the culture has "veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for".

Maybe the culture changed when Goldman decided to abandon its old partnership structure and go public in 1999, before you arrived. Maybe the excesses of the mortgage bubble in 2007 and 2008 marked a new low for moral standards. But now, in 2012? The suggestion is that you have invented a 12-year, straight-line moral decline (and the notion that Goldman traders are disrespecting their clients as "Muppets" with greater frequency today) simply in order to justify your exit and your bid for journalistic superstardom. Simply to answer that haunting question, why now?

Except that I don't find your claim of a 12-year moral decline implausible, not in the slightest.

Let's not forget what you did at Goldman. You traded US equity derivatives. As derivatives go, they are among the plainer financial products. Even Warren Buffett uses them. You would have witnessed, in the first two-thirds of your time there, the explosive growth of much more complicated products – the "illiquid, opaque products with a three-letter acronym" that you complain about, and from which Goldman and the rest of Wall Street extracted unprecedented multi-billion dollar profits in the years leading up to the bust. Illiquidity and opacity is precisely what allows middle-men like Goldman to "rip the faces off" their clients, even the most sophisticated Muppets.

It was from this business that we got the likes of the "Fabulous Fab", the Goldman trader Fabrice Tourre who boasted of selling to "widows and orphans ... all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstrosities!!!"

And let's not forget what has happened since the bust. Those most exotic corners of the derivatives business where you worked are now gone, and clients are much more sceptical about that which remains. It is already harder to make money, as you can see from the 47 per cent slide in Goldman's profits last year and the one-fifth cut to its bonus pool. And it is only going to get harder. Regulators have closed in to demand greater simplicity, lower leverage and to scale back banks' trading under the forthcoming Volcker Rule.

In those straitened circumstances, it doesn't seem implausible to me that traders are focused more on squeezing what they can from the business that remains, before the jig is completely up.

Millions wouldn't this week, but I believe you, Greg. Just let's answer that haunting question, why now? Give me a call.

s.foley@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Marketing Executive - B2B - OTE £25,000

£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity to join this new...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £21000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Recruitment Genius: Business Control Manager

£36000 - £44000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Encouraging more businesses to ...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower