Bloomberg: Moneychangers in the Temples

Bloomberg notices that three prominent bankers in recent weeks have taken to UK churches to make the case that they’re not evil. Really, they did that.

The moneychangers/temple headlines write themselves (see above), but Bloomberg being Bloomberg, it goes with its house brand of quirkiness, which in this case works well:

Profit `Not Satanic,’ Barclays Says, After Goldman Invokes Jesus

As if to prove why these kinds of stories aren’t a waste of time, Bloomberg reports this eye-popper from Goldman Sachs International (Goldman is an Audit funder) adviser Brian Griffiths:

“The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Goldman’s Griffiths said Oct. 20, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

This may be one of the most unintentionally revealing statements to come out of the financial industry in the whole crisis. Only some Wall Street (okay, City) dude , one whom Gawker’s John Cook has noted is “quite the Christian apologist for wealthy people” could invoke the whole love-thy-neighbor thing as an “endorsement of self-interest.” Did Griffiths think he was talking to an Ayn Rand convention?

Cook had some more fun with Griffiths:

But there are many ways to give, and Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach makes a good point when he says that inequality is necessary for prosperity—take for instance, the recent Formula One after-party at the Amber Lounge—”the ultimate VIP experience that follows the Grand Prix series around the world”—in Singapore that a tipster tells us was chock full of Goldman Sachs traders who’d purchased private VIP tables. According to Formula One’s web site, tables for eight at the September event went for as high as $22,000, complete with a Jeroboam of Dom Perignon. If those Goldman traders hadn’t been paid those bonuses, who would have showered all the women there with cash and champagne? That’s how opportunity and prosperity get spread around.

On a somewhat more workmanlike level, Bloomberg, going with “three’s a story,” notes that Griffiths isn’t the only Christian banker to take to the pulpit recently. So did Barclays’ CEO John Varley and Lazard International’s Ken Costa.

Varley’s the one who offered up the red herring (was it a Friday?) on satanic profits. It’s quite the PR campaign Bloomberg has picked up on here. Here’s why it’s underway:

City bonuses may rise by 50 percent to 6 billion pounds this year, according to the Centre for Economics & Business Research Ltd., even after the U.K. economy contracted for six consecutive quarters, driving unemployment to a 14-year high of 7.9 percent. The gap between rich and poor in the U.K. reached its widest in five decades last year, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a non-partisan research group.

God and Mammon. Rich man and camel. Money and root of evil. Etc. etc. Quite the minefield these guys have stepped in. Good for Bloomberg for picking up on it.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.