Vanity Fair has put Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’ CEO, top of its Information Age 100 in its new issue, proving that not everyone hates Golden Sacks.
The Vanity Fair 100
Like the economy, V.F.’s annual ranking of the top 100 Information Age powers has been truly shaken up, with new blood emerging. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who’s top dog? Related: For many of the titans on the V.F. 100, power and influence are an enduring conferment. Meet the inductees to the lifetime Hall of Fame. Plus: The Pit Stop, and the Bottomed Line.
1. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs
LAST YEAR: 20.
STAGE OF GLOBAL CONQUEST: It’s hard to imagine a financial institution that has weathered the economic crisis as well as Goldman Sachs has. Wall Street’s most watched and talked-about erstwhile investment bank took just seven months to shake the government off its back—it repaid its tarp funds ($10 billion) in June—and return to doing what it does best: making money. Goldman’s second-quarter net income of $3.4 billion shocked even the most cynical observers, of which there were many, thanks to the firm’s insidious tentacles, which stretch from Wall Street to Washington. Nevertheless, as several of the Goldman chief’s contemporaries have seen their careers come to ignominious ends in the past 18 months—Lehman Brothers’ Dick Fuld, Bear Stearns’s Jimmy Cayne, Merrill Lynch’s Stanley O’Neal—Blankfein’s grip on power at his own firm has only gotten tighter.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Blankfein, 55, is the son of a Brooklyn postal worker.
BIG COOL FRIEND: Warren Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha stepped into the breach with an injection of $5 billion into Goldman in October 2008 in exchange for preferred shares that pay a 10 percent annual dividend.
NEMESIS: Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi, who gathered every single conspiracy theory that has ever been uttered about Goldman into a July barn burner called “The Great American Bubble Machine,” in which he described the bank as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.”
QUESTIONABLE-TASTE ALERT: Just days before reports surfaced in The New York Post of Blankfein calling for his bankers to put an end to conspicuous consumption and lay low, his wife, Laura, reportedly made a fuss in the Hamptons after she and another Goldman Sachs wife were asked to wait in line with other ticket holders before the doors opened for Super Saturday, a charity event for ovarian cancer.
SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF: In 2008, the firm earned $2.3 billion and paid a mere $14 million in taxes, an effective tax rate of 1 percent, the result of what Goldman calls “changes in geographic earnings mix.” Critics say this could be offshore tax havens, a charge that Goldman denies.
THE HITS KEEP COMING: Goldman faced another round of criticism in late August after The Wall Street Journal revealed that the bank’s analysts supply stock tips to their biggest spending clients, leaving their smaller investors in the dark.
ON THE RECORD: “We regret that we participated in the market euphoria and failed to raise a responsible voice.”
YEAR AHEAD: →
To read the full list, visit vf.com