Shorter Wall Street Journal: Blankfein’s Days Are Numbered

Lloyd Blankfein isn’t going to make it.

That’s basically what this Money & Investing story is saying today. It can’t say it, so I will.

Some executives and powerful alumni of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are talking about whether Chief Executive Lloyd C. Blankfein can survive the legal and public-relations storm swirling around the company, according to people familiar with the situation.

Uneasy lies the head, you know. Especially when it’s changed the Way Things Were with traders now ascendant in the culture. The New York Times interviewed twenty top Goldman (an Audit funder) partners, present and past, in December:

Mr. Blankfein has accelerated a decade-long decline of Goldman’s old partnership ethos, which was built around the principle that its bankers and traders can do well — indeed, very well — while putting their customers first, former partners said.

Some Goldman alumni worry that Mr. Blankfein is jeopardizing the culture of success that defined the bank for much of its modern history. They wonder if Goldman will become, as one former partner put it, “just like every other bank on Wall Street” — that is, focused on short-term profits rather than long-term gains.

I think we have your answer.

The Journal reports there are “open discussions” within Goldman about the post-Blankfein era. And there’s some other interesting reporting here, too. This is on splitting the CEO and Chairman duties up:

Julie Tanner, assistant director of socially responsible investing at Christian Brothers Investment Services Inc., the New York firm that proposed the move, said it could attract strong support even from shareholders who typically pay little attention to corporate-governance-related proposals.

No word on Little Sisters of the Poor Investment Services Inc.’s stance. But the bigger question is: how can Christian Brothers argue that holding shares in Goldman Sachs is socially responsible investing? Quite the opposite.

And some things never change. The talk about who would serve as the new chairman includes former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and ex-SEC head Arthur Levitt, both of whom (through “people familiar with”) say they wouldn’t do 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.