Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World

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9780385523844: Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World

From the bestselling, prize-winning author of THE LAST TYCOONS and HOUSE OF CARDS, a revelatory history of Goldman Sachs, the most dominant, feared, and controversial investment bank in the world 
 
For much of its storied 142-year history, Goldman Sachs has projected an image of being better than its competitors--smarter, more collegial, more ethical, and far more profitable. The firm--buttressed by the most aggressive and sophisticated p.r. machine in the financial industry--often boasts of "The Goldman Way," a business model predicated on hiring the most talented people, indoctrinating them in a corporate culture where partners stifle their egos for the greater good, and honoring the "14 Principles," the first of which is "Our clients' interests always come first."
 
But there is another way of viewing Goldman--a secretive money-making machine that has straddled the line between conflict-of-interest and legitimate deal-making for decades; a firm that has exerted undue influence over government since the early part of the 20th century; a company composed of "cyborgs" who are kept in line by an internal "reputational risk department" staffed by former CIA operatives and private investigators; a workplace rife with brutal power struggles; a Wall Street titan whose clever bet against the mortgage market in 2007--a bet not revealed to its clients--may have made the financial ruin of the Great Recession worse.
 
As William D. Cohan shows in his riveting chronicle of Goldman's rise to the summit of world capitalism, the firm has shown a remarkable ability to weather financial crises, congressional, federal and SEC investigations, and numerous lawsuits, all with its reputation and its enormous profits intact. By reading thousands of pages of government documents, court cases, SEC filings, Freedom of Information Act papers and other sources, and conducting over 100 interviews, including interviews with clients, competitors, regulators, current and former Goldman employees (including the six living men who have run Goldman), Cohan has constructed a vivid narrative that looks behind the veil of secrecy to reveal how Goldman has become so profitable, and so powerful.
 
Part of the answer is the firm's assiduous cultivation of people in power--dating back to 1913, when Henry Goldman advised the government on how the new Federal Reserve, designed to oversee Wall Street, should be constituted. Sidney Weinberg, who ran the firm for four decades, advised presidents from Roosevelt to Kennedy and was nicknamed "The Politician" for his behind-the-scenes friendships with government officials.  Goldman executives ran fundraising efforts for Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush.  The firm showered lucrative consulting or speaking fees on figures like Henry Kissinger and Lawrence Summers. Famously, and fatefully, two Goldman leaders-- Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson--became Secretaries of the Treasury, where their actions both before and during the financial crisis of 2008 became the stuff of controversy and conspiracy theories. 
 
Another major strand in the firm's DNA is its eagerness to deal on both sides of a transaction, eliding questions of conflict of interest by the mere assertion of their innate honesty and nobility, a refrain repeated many times in its history, most notoriously by current Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein's jesting assertion that he was doing "God's work."
 
As Michiko Kakutani's New York Times review of HOUSE OF CARDS said, "Cohan writes with an insider's knowledge of the workings of Wall Street, a reporter's investigative instincts and a natural storyteller's narrative command." In MONEY & POWER, Cohan has marshaled all these gifts in a powerful and definitive account of an institution whose public claims of virtue look very much like ruthlessness when exposed to the light of day.
 
 

 

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From the Back Cover:

Praise for House of Cards

"Like Michael Lewis's 'Liar's Poker' and Bryan Burrough and John Helyar's 'Barbarians at the Gate,' this volume turns complex Wall Street maneuverings into high drama that is gripping .... [His] account of its death spiral not only makes for riveting, edge-of-the-seat reading, but it also stands as a chilling cautionary tale about how greed and hubris and high-risk gambling wrecked one company."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Fascinating.”--The Wall Street Journal

"A riveting blow-by-blow account." --The Economist

"Masterfully reported....[Cohan] has turned into one of our most able financial journalists....he deploys not only his hands-on experience of this exotic corner of the financial industry but also a remarkable gift for plain-spoken explanation... It's impossible to do justice to his reportorial detail in a brief review..." --Los Angeles Times
Praise for THE LAST TYCOONS

“Cohan's portrayal of the firm's dominant partners—whose gargantuan appetites and mercurial habits provide the unifying force behind the book's operatic melodramas— makes this an epic . . . In fact, The Last Tycoons bears a striking resemblance to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon.”—New York Times Book Review

“Breezy and highly readable . . . For those of us who enjoy high-level gossip (most people) and an inside look at the machinations, triumphs, failures, and foibles of some of Wall Street's and America's most exalted personages, Cohan's book is entertaining and seductively engrossing.”—Chicago Tribune

“Cohan not only knows where the bodies are buried but got a guided tour of the graveyard.”—Financial Times

“Rips the roof off of one of Wall Street's most storied investment banks.”—Vanity Fair

About the Author:

William D. Cohan is the author of the New York Times bestsellers House of Cards and The Last Tycoons, which won the 2007 FT/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.    He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, has a bi-weekly opinion column in The New York Times, and writes frequently for The Financial Times, Fortune, The Atlantic, and the Washington Post, among other publications. A former investment banker, Cohan is a graduate of Duke University, Columbia University School of Journalism and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

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