Lloyd Blankfein: Time Man Of The Year

By Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown

In a surprise announcement earlier this morning, Time Magazine brought forward its annual “Man of the Year” award – and conferred this honor on Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs.  April 1st apparently is at least 7 months earlier than anyone else has ever won this award, since it began in 1927.

As the award has previously been conferred on controversial figures (including Joseph Stalin in 1942 and Mrs. Simpson in 1936), Time also saw fit to issue a statement clarifying Mr. Blankfein’s merits,

“[Goldman is] very important.  [They] help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle.  [They] have a social purpose.”

A spokesperson for Goldman responded quickly,

“It was always clear to us that had [Lloyd not won], it would have been quite disruptive to the world’s financial markets. We would have had to spend money, other people would have had to replace transactions as well. Generally for us, volatility is good for our trading business, however it would not have been good for the financial markets as a whole, so it would not have been good for our business…We would not have been affected directly by our exposure to [him], but the world’s financial system would have been affected…there would have been no losses vis a vis our credit exposure.”

Now it seems the Nobel Peace Prize Committee feels pressed to follow suit.  Their statement just released in Oslo begins,

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for [2010] is to be awarded to President [Lloyd Blankfein] for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to [Blankfein]’s vision of and work for a world without [credit derivatives].”

There may be more to this story.  According to the website Market News Video, “Goldman recently upgraded Norway-based oil and gas company Statoil (STO) from neutral to buy, and even put the stock it on its conviction buy list”.  And Goldman has long predicted that oil prices would hit $200 per barrel – a forecast that has greatly helped buoy Norway’s public finances and restrain pressures to join the eurozone.

In a conference call, David Viniar (Goldman’s CFO) scoffed at the idea of a connection between the firm’s market activities and Mr. Blankfein’s recent slew of prizes,

“We had no material exposure to [Norway].”

Mr.Viniar further remarked, somewhat enigmatically,

“We also have taxpayer money at GS and it’s our responsibility not to lose it.”

He did not, however, clarify to which country’s taxpayers he was referring – nor how exactly Goldman got its hands on their money.

Meanwhile, there are persistent unconfirmed rumors that Mr. Blankfein is the front-runner to win the Pillsbury Bake-Off.

This would be controversial, as we are still 10 days away from the competition itself and Mr. Blankfein is not one of the named finalists.

Still, Mr. Blankfein did recently win the Financial Times 2009 Person of the Year award – despite also being at the same time “a keen judge for the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.”

In fall 2009 Mr. Blankfein had seemed to commit to stop fixing the results of various kinds of competitions that are widely believed to be free and fair – like the stock market:

“We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret.  We apologize.”

But there may be divergent views within Mr. Blankfein’s own senior management team.  David Viniar, for one, is holding to a harder line.  With regard to what happened in the basketball gold medal game at the Vancouver Olympics, he was quite firm:

“There’s no guilt whatsoever.”

31 thoughts on “Lloyd Blankfein: Time Man Of The Year

  1. Geeze Simon, you had me frozen for a moment.. I had heavy bets on Timmy. Wonderful, Thanks.

  2. I sure am glad I checked the links on that one……. I shamefully confess you had me going…. a nice laugh in this crazy world. We need it from time to time.

    I tried to tell someone the Pope was resigning. You think I was reaching a little???

  3. Dr. Blankfein or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Goldman Sachs – excerpts

    April 1, 2010

    “The Financial Crisis was a Hoax. The global casino is open again.

    No worries! You actually believed there was a problem when Paulson and Bernanke threatened Congress last year with Martial Law; to blast the U.S. economy back to the 16th century; to crash the market unless ransom was paid requiring each American to fork over $100,000, give or take, in impossible-to-payback future loans today to add to the hundreds of thousands of dollars each American already owes forever?

    HAHAHA. It’s all good, bro. Goldman Sachs and the other cruel sisters of syphilitic lending are reporting huge profits and bonuses….All efforts to remove the investment banking tapeworm from our collective colon have failed, but that’s a good thing. We poked the monster….and made it angrier and greedier in ways never thought possible and daddy’s feeling fine. Ain’t no audit going on at the Fed, bud. I’m so happy I could just plotz. You’re gonna LOVE what happens next. Insatiable greed meets infinite moral hazard when Goldman eats the Fed.

    High Frequency Trading (HFT) aka ‘flash trading’ will continue to grow exponentially. Trading will become so fast, time itself will have a public offering after Microsoft secures a patent on it and trading time futures will catapult traders backwards and forwards through time until they need bailouts on debts they have not yet incurred.

    Cloning time traders will get Congressional approval confusing the boundary between time and money further causing Warren Buffet to pass a kidney stone that looks exactly like Larry Ellison. Time Bandits will steal the DNA of time trading clones and sell the proprietary code to a Japanese housewife who will use it to crash the Icelandic Krona (again) because she thinks she’s over paying for a plate of sushi in Reykjavik.

    Thanks Lloyd Blankfein, current CEO of Goldman Sachs and future President of the United States. We are eternally in your debt.”

  4. This joke isn’t funny. Blankfein should be in an orange jump suit in a federal penitentiary.

  5. ….after the first couple of paragraphs my head almost exploded. Then, thank god, I looked at today’s date.

  6. Why not? Hitler Time Man of the Year 1938. Big Labor Day Google joke, home page logo “Topeka”! Humor a bust with algorithmic PhDs.

  7. How true. I read this last night and have been puzzling over it for 12 hours. (I probably dreamed about it.)

    “Has Simon Johnson lost it? Is he testing the waters of satire? If so, please GOD let him stick to the lovely dry land to which he is supremely adapted by evolution.”

    April Fools’ on me. Why do I never read the small print on the bottom of the day’s box on the calendar?

    The reason I didn’t realize Why This Day Is Different From All Other Days is that I bought the initial premise, hook line and sinker: awarding the MoY to Blankfein (though maybe not in April) is exactly in character for Time, as is the Reader’s Digest-like pedantry of the Blankfein-adapted exegesis on the Goodness of Goldman. So even when it got truly absurd, I thought it was all a riff on the absurd-but-true. Sucker.

  8. What if Lloyd paid back the aig bailout? All 12.9 Billion. He’ll get my vote. pay it back now.

  9. “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President “Bygones” Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples through remote control assassination, torture, infinite detention, and surging military operations and increased military spending.”

  10. I wonder if the Vatican has an award for him, too.
    Remember last year when he told The Times he was “doing God’s work” at Goldman?

    I just hope the lobby at G-S has a trophy case big enough to hold all that hardware, along with LB’s ego.

  11. The Lloyd’s Prayer

    November 11th, 2009 – from CNBC

    “Our Chairman,
    Who Art At Goldman,
    Blankfein Be Thy Name.

    The Rally’s Come.
    God’s Work Be Done,
    We Have No Fear Of Correction.

    Give Us This Day Our Daily Gains,
    And Bankrupt Our Nearest Competitors,
    Just As You Taught Lehman And Bear A Lesson.

    And Bring Us Not Under Indictment.
    For Thine Is The Treasury,
    The House And The Senate
    Forever And Ever.


  12. For those of us who read your blog every day, this is the best April Fool’s ever. BTW, where are the horns? Talk about retouching photos. No raw picture of Lloyd would be compete without them.

  13. Very funny indeed. But why poke fun at Blankfein, instead of Paul Krugman? who seemed to have been always mad these days?

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