Resignation letters may be self-serving, but Smith's rang true: Wall Street is a conspiracy of the super-rich against the public
It may be, but Smith's letter wasn't about the public, or Main Street as Elliot goes on to call them. It was about Goldmans' clients.
I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.
And what sort of person is a Goldmans client? Well, it isn't the poor down-trodden masses. It's high net-worth individuals, and large corporations - "sophisticated investors" in other words, who should know better, but usually don't. From the perspective of the average man on the street, we are being invited to weep on behalf of massively wealthy people, who are being ripped-off by even more massively wealthy people. Sure, it's shitty behaviour by Goldmans, but I find it hard to get too worked up over it.
Oh, one more thing. Goldmans boys are more likely to be offended by this summary of their business practices than anything in the Smith letter:
The big structural change on Wall Street and in the City of London has been for the investment banks to become bigger and more integrated. That means that one team goes round trying to persuade companies to float shares, a second team of analysts then pens supposedly independent analysis suggesting the shares are a great buy, while a third team of traders makes money every time the shares move up and down on the stock market. There is a massive conflict of interest here.
I can hear the bond guys from here. "The fucking equities desk? Those losers? Is that what he thinks we do?" Equities lost their sheen in the 1980s, it's been bonds and derivatives ever since...