Elephant Tears

James Macdonald

  • Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World by William Cohan
    Allen Lane, 658 pp, £25.00, ISBN 1 84614 454 X

Of all the Wall Street firms that have been attacked and hated since the financial crisis began, the one that has consistently provoked the most opprobrium is Goldman Sachs. Long before Occupy Wall Street, in July 2009, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone called it ‘a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity’. He not only blamed Goldman for the housing bubble, but implied that it had survived the crash only because of its undue influence in high places: Henry Paulson, its former CEO, was Bush’s treasury secretary. Since then the firm has suffered one public relations disaster after another, culminating in a $550 million out-of-court settlement to avoid prosecution for fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. William Cohan’s Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World is the most substantial of several recent books about the company. Perhaps out of fear of more bad publicity, Goldman thought it wise to co-operate with him, and Cohan has interviewed many company executives, past and present. The result is a history that, unusually, avoids both hysteria and adulation.

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