A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from April 14, 2012
“Doing God’s work” (investment banking joke)

Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs, told the Times of London in a November 2009 interview that he was just a banker “doing God’s work.” The line was meant as a joke, but the financial press picked it up to portray Goldman Sachs as a greedy Wall Street firm, caring only about “God’s work” of money and profits.
Wikipedia: Lloyd Blankfein
Lloyd Craig Blankfein (born September 20, 1954) is an American business executive. He is currently the CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs. He has been in this position since the May 31, 2006 nomination of former CEO Henry Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush.
In November 2009, he declared in an interview, as a banker: “I’m doing God’s work.” Several days later he indicated that he regretted that remark and said he had intended it as a joke. He also apologized on behalf of Goldman Sachs to the public for unspecified “things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret” and which contributed to the financial and economic crisis. The firm announced a 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, committing $500 million to aid American small businesses.
Wall Street Journal
November 9, 2009, 10:00 AM
Goldman Sachs’ Blankfein on Banking: ‘Doing God’s Work’
By Matt Phillips
The Times of London’s mammoth 6,900-word piece on Goldman Sachs over the weekend contains plenty of fodder for those that see the investment bank as Wall Street’s top dog, as well as those that see it as a creepy, conspiratorial vampire squid of finance.
But the key quote that’s getting attention comes in Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein’s exchange with a reporter after a question on whether there should be limits to compensation:
Is it possible to make too much money? “Is it possible to have too much ambition? Is it possible to be too successful?” Blankfein shoots back. “I don’t want people in this firm to think that they have accomplished as much for themselves as they can and go on vacation. As the guardian of the interests of the shareholders and, by the way, for the purposes of society, I’d like them to continue to do what they are doing. I don’t want to put a cap on their ambition. It’s hard for me to argue for a cap on their compensation.”
So, it’s business as usual, then, regardless of whether it makes most people howl at the moon with rage? Goldman Sachs, this pillar of the free market, breeder of super-citizens, object of envy and awe will go on raking it in, getting richer than God? An impish grin spreads across Blankfein’s face. Call him a fat cat who mocks the public. Call him wicked. Call him what you will. He is, he says, just a banker “doing God’s work”.

Blankfein’s wry comment that he’s “doing god’s work” seems almost to be a veiled jab at this sort of religio-public relations push, which to a serious banker of Blankfein’s stature, must seem somewhat silly.
Blankfein clearly knows who he works for. After all, God couldn’t afford him.
Business Insider
Goldman Sachs’ God’s Work Comments Are “Truly Unsettling”
Lawrence Delevingne|Nov. 10, 2009, 9:00 AM
Goldman Sachs’ (GS) latest public relations offensive involves its executives saying their capitalistic endeavors are not just tolerable, but spiritually beatifying.
CEO Lloyd Blankfein is recently said to have said he’s “doing God’s work” by raising money for clients and investing in businesses, according to the Sunday Times.
And here’s Taibbi on Griffiths’s church-invoking words:
True/Slant: I didn’t believe this story was true at first — thought it had to be a spoof. But it turns out to be true. The great banks of the world have gone on a p.r. counteroffensive in Europe, and are sending spokescrooks in shiny suits into churches to persuade the masses that Christ would have approved of the latest round of obscene bonuses.
Father Francis, Drawn to the Life That Died on Nov 10, 9:29 AM said:
They are doing God’s work.
Its just that their God is Money.
Blankfein Invokes God and Man at Goldman Sachs: Jonathan Weil
Commentary by Jonathan Weil - November 11, 2009 21:00 EST
Yes, it’s true, Blankfein did tell a reporter for the Sunday Times of London that he’s just a banker “doing God’s work,” a quote the newspaper couldn’t help but use for the headline of its 6,900-word opus about Goldman last weekend. And, no, Blankfein didn’t mean for these words to be taken seriously, according to the bank’s spokesman, Lucas van Praag.
It was “an obviously ironic, throwaway response,” van Praag told me in an e-mail. “Sort of like saying, ‘I’m living the dream’ in response to a question about how you’re doing.”
He went on: “And you can also say that the Sunday Times understood the context perfectly but decided to ‘spin’ it in a cynical attempt to generate more interest in their story and, presumably, to see if their interpretation could be used to generate a reaction that could be used to ‘create’ news.”
(Never mind that line from the Gospel according to Matthew: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” a biblical term meaning worldly riches.)
OCLC WorldCat record
Money and power : how Goldman Sachs came to rule the world
Author: William D Cohan
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, ©2011.
Edition/Format:  Book : English : 1st ed
Summary: A revelatory history of Goldman Sachs.
God’s work.
July 25, 2011, 8:56 am Investment Banking
The Goldman View: Blankfein and Cohn
The limits of humor:
Mr. Blankfein:
During an interview with The Guardian, “the C.E.O. learned the limits of his corny, self-effacing jokes. He’s just a banker ‘doing God’s work,’ he tossed off as he was leaving the interview.”
Bloomberg Businessweek
Goldman’s Dubious Deals: Is This ‘God’s Work’?
By Matthew Philips on March 07, 2012
In January 2011, six months after getting slapped by the Securities and Exchange Commission with a $550 million fine for misleading clients on securities that were built to fail, Goldman Sachs (GS) released a new code of business standards. The move was meant to mollify concerns the bank had morphed into what Rolling Stone had dubbed a “vampire squid,” willing to feed on its own clients to make more money for itself.
Mar 20 2012
It’s Not God’s Work at Goldman
By Francesco Guerrera
By now, Greg Smith is an online celebrity and, almost certainly, the loudest resignee in Goldman Sachs Group Inc.‘s history.
But if his invective is to be more than an Internet blockbuster, it has to effect lasting change on both Goldman’s business and external perception.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Saturday, April 14, 2012 • Permalink

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