October 19, 2012

Photocopies of parts of former Goldman employee Greg Smith’s new book are now circulating on Wall Street ahead of its official release on Monday. And according to those who have read it, Goldman is pretty relieved by what they read, even though some of the details are quite cringe-worthy.

Here’s the bottom line:

First, there are no explosive allegations, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Second, Smith writes about some pretty embarrassing moments, although they are by no means jaw-dropping recollections.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Smith tells of one near-encounter when he saw Mr. Blankfein, sans clothes, after taking a shower at the gym. Mr. Blankfein was “air-drying,” Mr. Smith writes, something Mr. Smith took not as a display of power but as something men of an older generation tend to do.

[…] As for alcohol, Mr. Smith says “getting smashed” is a regular event for Goldman employees and senior management. He describes at least one going-away party where a drunk employee leeringly harped on about how “hot” a new female analyst was while she stood a few feet away.

“Holy crap!” Mr. Smith writes. “This guy is embarrassing himself, perhaps irreparably.”

Well, nothing particularly unusual there, even if it was an unfortunate comment. Most people who have attended Christmas drinks parties at least in Europe which is typically less politically-correct than the U.S., have probably heard, or seen, far worse.

[Read: Another Ex-Goldman Employee (And His Lawyer) Take Aim At Goldman Sachs .] Smith also describes Goldman’s cafeteria in lower Manhattan.

From the Wall Street Journal:

“Something was terribly wrong,” he writes in an ominous tone.

Apparently, Goldman employees were so hungry that they knocked each other over to get to the omelet station. It got so terrible, he writes, that Goldman offered discounts to entice employees to eat early or after the omelet rush.

Again, nothing particularly of note here. Isn’t that the way most people tend to behave at buffets, however uncouth that may be?

Smith also accuses higher-ranking executives of being cheap.

With incredulity, Mr. Smith says even managing directors who made $1 million or more were hungry for the lunch discounts. Another Goldman executive filed a $1 charge on his expense report for buying ChapStick for a client on a ski trip.

“It was all very strange,” writes Mr. Smith.

Again, it’s actually not that shocking at all. After all, it’s a well-known fact that many wealthy people, millionaires – or even billionaires – are often very frugal.

Jim C. Walton, the Wal-Mart scion and member of America's richest family, drove a 15-year-old Dodge Dakota, a 2007 article on abcnews.com titled “I’ve Got Billions, but Don’t Like to Spend It,” reported.

The same article notes that Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad built a $33 billion fortune but flies coach and often eats meals at lower-tier restaurants.

Goldman has hit back (finally) at the allegations Smith levied against the financial firm in his infamous New York Times op-ed.

The firm claims Smith was basically a disgruntled, bad employee who made unreasonable salary demands and received poor performance reviews even from those he personally chose to review his performance.

Since Smith’s book is getting so much publicity, it was probably the right move for Goldman to finally respond to the allegations.

But it looks like for all intents and purposes, Smith’s book is all much ado about nothing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in ...