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

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

  • Title: Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World
  • Author: William D. Cohan
  • ISBN: 9780385523844
  • Page: 201
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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, collegial, ethical, and far profitablFrom 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, collegial, ethical, and far 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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    2 thoughts on “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World

    1. William David Cohan born February 20, 1960 is an American business writer He has written three books about business and economics and is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.Prior to becoming a journalist, he worked on Wall Street for seventeen years He spent six years at Lazard Fr res in New York, then Merrill Lynch Co and later became a managing director at JP Morgan Chase He also worked for two years at GE Capital Cohan is a graduate of Duke University, Columbia University School of Journalism, and Columbia University Graduate School of Business.Cohan was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 20, 1960 His father was an accountant and his mother worked in administration.In 1991 he married editor Deborah Gail Futter in a Jewish ceremony.In 2007, he published The Last Tycoons The Secret History of Lazard Fr res Co about Lazard Fr res It won the 2007 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.His book House of Cards A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, describing the last days of Bear Stearns Co was published in March 2009 The book has received excellent reviews and was described as a masterfully reported account by Tim Rutten in The Los Angeles Times It remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for several months.In an op ed article in the New York Times, Cohan said in March 2009 that Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz and Lehman CEO Dick Fuld had engaged in a tsunami of excuses when they were responsible for their firms collapse In another op ed written with Sandy B Lewis in June 2009 he said that the current economic crisis is not over yet, and that many of the fixes that the Obama administration has proposed will do little to address them and may make them worse His 2011 book, Money and Power How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, examines the historical role and influence of Goldman Sachs.His new book, The Price of Silence The Duke Lacrosse Scandal the Power of the Elite and the Corruption of Our Great Universities, about the story of the Duke lacrosse case, was published in 2014 by Scribner.

    2. Cohan has done a remarkable job by providing a blow by blow account on the history and influence of Goldman Sachs ever since the firm's birth about 142 years ago. The company's history is filled with conflicting interests, events, and intense emotions. “Goldman Sachs has been both envied and feared for having the best talents, the best clients, and the best political connections, and for its ability to alchemize them into extreme profitability and market prowess.”The saying "It takes a lifet [...]

    3. After reading this book, I am not sure how Goldman Sachs has any clients left. Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World is the history of this white-shoe firm from its inception through 2008. As the investment bank that other firms aspire to be, this book is a peek behind the curtain of how Goldman Sachs really operates.In the late 1970s, a partner named John C. Whitehead developed the “14 Principles” that purportedly guides the company still today. The first principle, “O [...]

    4. Great book about an amazing company. I have read two other books about GS and this is superior in terms of (i) comprehensive coverage of the firm's history, (ii) balanced and yet undiluted accounts of the bad behaviours in the firm's history and (iii) clear description of the firm's culture, its evolution and the personalities that shape it from the founding family, Sydney Weinberg, all the leaders up to the current CEO Lloyd Blankfein.Reading this book educated me about the Street's history as [...]

    5. This work sets out to write a definitive history and given its expansive ambition, we end up with a very long work. Does it achieve its aim? I guess so. Largely. Obviously, material is hard to come by about the early years and we should be grateful for what we do get i.e. stories about GS people rather than about GS. Of course, when Cohen hits the period after the great war, the book becomes more data dense.Having said that, what of the reading experience. For most people, at the end of the day, [...]

    6. Goldman Sachs (GS) has become iconic, attracting both superlatives and expletives. To members of Wall Street they are the pinnacle; to Rolling Stone Magazine they are “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” According to business author William Cohan, “The firm’s inexorable success leaves people wondering: Is Goldman Sachs better than everyone else, or have they found ways to win time and time again by cheating?” Cohan answers in a comprehensive, compelling, and ins [...]

    7. I read Cohan's earlier work on Lazard Freres and greatly enjoyed it, so I decided to take the plunge on his investigation into Goldman Sachs, arguably one of the most powerful financial institutions that ever existed. This is not really a Goldman "bashing" book but there is plenty of hard reporting that lead one to wonder how Goldman can get away with proclaiming itself to be a temple of team play and a firm where customer interests always come first. Team playing culture? Cohan gives you detail [...]

    8. This is a company history of Goldman Sachs, brought up to date through the financial crash and its aftermath up until about 2010. In the first three quarters of the book or so, the story parallels that of the Charles Ellis book on Goldman (The Partnership). During this stretch, the overlap is about 80% or so with Ellis and the story makes for a very good read, whether you like Goldman Sachs or not. The last quarter of the book is fairly effective in discussing the role of the firm in the trouble [...]

    9. Cohan’s latest book provides many valuable insights and stories about how Goldman works, though the title is misleading: it deals almost entirely with Goldman’s business strategies, and very little with its political/policy strategies (i.e not very much on the “power” side). And, as usual, he focuses almost entirely on the internal workings of the firm. This is both a strength and weakness: a weakness because the book’s scope is very narrow, a strength because of the window it provides [...]

    10. I'd forgotten I'd read an earlier book by this author,it was a dog too. Over 600 pages with the story starting in the 1840's. Half the book is about stuff from more than 20 years agowhen GS was an entirely different company. A partnership instead of a stock owned company, an investment bank that advised clients and raised money for companies. Now GS is a blood sucking vampire squid that sucks the money out of America mostly by trading for its own account. At the expense of anyone who happens to [...]

    11. I am amazed at how William Cohan can take a topic as dry as the finanial crises and make it read like a novel. I'm up the part where Jon Corzine takes over. But now that I've finished the book I have to say that I guess I just wasn't that interested in Goldman Sachs.

    12. If History is written by winners, then memories are also biased towards its survivors. In a hundred years from now, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual and Wachovia will cease to exist in the footnotes to the history of the 2008 banking crisis. Instead, people will remember Goldman Sachs as the bank that profited while other Wall Street titans perished. Indeed, the evidence eight years after the near-implosion of western capitalism suggests the process has already begun. So why does t [...]

    13. This is meant to be a history of the iconic investment banker. And it is. But it seemed to be a run-up to the mortgage-backed securities meltdown. Before the other large banks, Goldman realized that much of the value of mortgage-backed securities was very likely to evaporate. They acted quite rationally - selling as much of their inventory as they could, shorting the asset class, buying insurance from AIG to protect them if the credit behind the securities went south, and marking down the asset [...]

    14. This was a pretty comprehensive telling of how Goldman became Goldman, starting with one person arbitraging commercial paper and growing into what it is today. Much of how the firm grew, how the business lines became more and more important to it (the i-banking side of the house being key to its name in the market and with trading become ever more important to bottom line results), how the political ties to US government have been helpful in its growing influence, and how it benefited from the h [...]

    15. Great corporate history of Goldman Sachs with a very detailed account of the culture of the company, its business and practices. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of financial institutions today. The book is surprisingly insightful with respect to the role corporate culture and history has on the ways the firm recruits, operates and views itself.

    16. I think that if you look at any company you will be able to find periods where there were shady deals happening. This book likes to point out the majority in Goldmans history. What it doesn't show is the good that the firm has done in it's history. I am sure there are others books out there that do show the good things and strengths that Goldman has, maybe that is the other book on Goldman sitting on my shelf called The Partnership by Charles D. Ellis.That being said, the book showed some really [...]

    17. Money and Power is an overly long history of the Wallstreet firm Goldman Sachs. Overly long because this history reaches back into the 19th Century and spends forever getting to the corruption and malfeasance of Goldman which may date back as far as the '70s, though truly begins in the '90s. If you are interested in a exhaustive history of the company and a detailed analysis of what they did wrong and right leading up to the Credit Crunch and Derivatives implosion in 2007-08 this is the book for [...]

    18. Interestingly, the book grows more and more complex as it progresses, as if to reflect how the financial world (and by extension, Goldman's operations) grows more and more complex over time. This is rather evident from the discrepancy between the relatively familiar & simple phrases used in describing the Weinberg-Levy-Whitehead era (i.e. professionalism, client service, values, traditional I-banking operations) and the seemingly incomprehensible phrases used in later chapters (i.e. syntheti [...]

    19. Good, but it could be better.The writing is quite good, and the book is a detailed narrative on the history of Goldman Sachs. Interesting that they have been cutting corners, screwing clients and competitors, and skirting or breaking the law for decades.However, the book's shortcoming is that the author is WAY to kind towards GS, exhibiting little outrage over their nefarious, greedy behavior. Cohan seems to assume "that's just the way it is," and evidences little moral judgment or condemnation. [...]

    20. When I first began reading this book, I thought it would be another complimentary bromide like a well known book on GS 'The Partnership'. Thankfully, this book(though somewhat boring at times) draws on history, interviews and analysis to show that though Goldman Sachs is now accused of putting clients interests last, using sacrificial scapegoats, leveraging Govt/Board relationships etc; all these have been a DNA of the firm for atleast the last 30-40yrs. The book did get boring towards the end(i [...]

    21. Long long book that chronicles the full history of goldman sachs. I found many parts of it very boring, and wasn't sure i'd make it through to the end. After about half of the book, however, it became much more interesting to me as it focused on the last 20-30 years which is much more relevant to the existing banking system.The chapters on how goldman avoided the massive pain from the financial crisis were awesome. Cohan used excerpts from a ton of internal goldman e-mails to narrate the mortgag [...]

    22. Overall this book was extremely interesting, and managed to truly paint Goldman Sachs as neither an "evil company" or one "doing God's work", truly leaving such determinations up to the reader based upon the provided information and context. For me it was a very revealing light into the machinations that are our banking and finance institutions. And though there were a great number of tedious parts, considering the subject matter and my relative ignorance of it, I think both the author and narra [...]

    23. This book was a pretty good history on Goldman Sachs. It was interesting to learn about how they got started and how the Sachs eventually forced Goldman out. Learning about every leading partner was a bit tedious, but it was still well done.I have read the Big Short, and this was very complimentary. I liked the Big Short better because of Michael Lewis's wit. Overall, it seemed to be well done, but I would recommend Lewis's book first. If you are interested in Goldman Sachs for more than the hou [...]

    24. i may definitely check out more books from william d cohan. this book was pretty much what i was hoping for. a thorough account of the history of goldman and an enlightening look into the financial crisis of a few years ago. this crisis was at once something new and something we've seen many times before. what kept me engaged were the personalities. cohan does a good job of deconstructing some of the myths surrounding early goldman sachs employees and does an even better job of capturing the ess [...]

    25. As someone who has been indoctrinated by the GS ethos in the past, I can empathize with the characterizations of those who are successful there and those who are not. The history was important, the sphere of influence was frightening and the firm's ability to make money in both boom and bust was nothing short of impressive. Unless you like reading about the sometimes questionable practices of top banks and understand how little the little people matter in high finance, this is probably not the b [...]

    26. Great history of one of the key players in the US/world banking industry. An informative inside look both at how the industry operates, including the many conflicts inherent in the related and competing businesses, as well as the personal side of how such a competitive and high-flying firm actually operates - and how that has served it both well and poorly when going through different experiences in Wall Street history.

    27. I now undertand how this company can sell junk mortgage securities to customers at the same time and unknown to the buyers that it was betting against (selling short) them. It is a money making machine and in this well researched book it tells how the company has evolved away from it's "14 principles" of ethical behavior. It is very well written and you get to know all the main players in the company and the close connection to the government.

    28. This is a lengthy, fairly comprehensive history of GS. The first couple hundred pages, detailing the early history of the firm, can get a little boring. The last 200-300 pages offer an interesting angle into the financial crisis and an interesting examination of the conflicts and controversies that have defined GS in recent years.

    29. Fasinating story of Goldman Sachs and its influence in the U.S. Particularly helpful in mapping the political/financial revolving door and the characters who continue to make money thanks to the government bailout of Wall Street. Hard to take any thing this company proports to be their ethics seriously. They are one for us and all for us. As much as we can get.

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