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.

exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor