Colin Barr

Following the money in banking, economics, and Washington

One thing you can't blame Goldman for

May 21, 2010: 4:55 PM ET

Your state has a dysfunctional legislature and a huge budget gap. What to do? Why, blame Goldman Sachs!

At least, that's the thinking behind a prank press release that made the rounds Friday.

The most profitable Wall Street firm and its backers have taken some hefty hits over the past month or so. Regulators are suing Goldman (GS) over a bubble-era subprime debt deal, executives are getting dragged before Congress and everyone from Lloyd Blankfein on down is getting poorer, relatively speaking anyway. Much of this is well deserved if not overdue.

Doing God's work too?

But the latest in Goldman-bashing is a press release from an anonymous prankster that claims Goldman will furlough its top executives to help New York state out of its budget squeeze.

We don't know who's responsible for the hoax, which is probably just as well because it isn't exactly side-splittingly funny. The release does do the service of introducing the world to a fictitious Goldman flack named Andrew Mammon. Surely we can all agree there should be more references to the evils of greed.

It also mentions another Goldman PR honcho who happens to be named "Lucas Vandamm." No idea who that could be referring to.

The point, in any case, is to draw attention to the plight of soon-to-be-furloughed New York State employees. They will lose some of their puny paychecks at a time when the fat cats at Goldman, thanks to taxpayer largesse, are cleaning up.

There is no question this is unfair and it is absurd that two years after the crisis that the banks still haven't been made to answer for their bubble era recklessness, Lloyd Blankfein's nonspecific apology aside.

But turning Goldman upside down and shaking vigorously, as good as it would surely feel, is not the answer to the problems facing Gov. David Paterson (above right) and his feckless colleagues in Albany.

The scale of Wall Street's gains are staggering, and it certainly would be nice if someone would keep the banks from blowing up the economy again. But all of us are going to have to put our own houses in order too, regardless of what happens with the mammon crowd.

"The governor's worker-furlough proposal would save at most $250 million, noted Mammon, while the state deficit stands at $9 billion," the hoax reads. "In contrast, our financial executive furlough program would provide a real solution to the state's fiscal problems – problems that began right here on Wall Street."

Let's put that one in the nothing ventured, nothing gained department.

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About This Author
Colin Barr
Colin Barr
Senior Writer, Fortune

Colin Barr has covered finance for since November 2007. Previously he was a writer and editor for, winning a 2006 Society of American Business Editors and Writers award for "The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street," and for Dow Jones Newswires. He is a 1991 graduate of Penn State and lives in Port Washington, N.Y., with his wife Meena Bose and their two kids.

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