David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, is having trouble getting out from under the shadow of his predecessor, Lloyd Blankfein. Goldman’s profits have dropped to a four-year low, and the bank had to set aside an extra $1.1 billion for legal fees involved in a Malaysian corruption scandal.
But Solomon is pressing ahead amid pandemic economic shock, as if his two-year reign as CEO has been an unqualified success. His first controversial move: buying two ultra-luxury private jets to shuttle Goldman execs to and fro. His second: engineering himself a 20 percent pay hike.
At the bank’s annual meeting last week, conducted online, critics pressed for a shareholder advisory “no” vote on Solomon’s $24.7-million pay, calling his deal out of line at a time of mass unemployment. Countered a Solomon friendly board member: “We believe David’s compensation is aligned with his peers and his predecessor.” In other words, if some CEOs get paid more than they deserve, all should. The “no” vote failed. (Inequality.org, April 2020)
My comment: Which example in history can we consult to get a clue about what the future holds in store, in view of this fine example of the “Wisdom of Solomon”? My favorite would be the the overthrow of the Tsar and the greedy, effete system he presided over. Unless we see the (unlikely) reform of the American economic system and the advent of a modern Roosevelt to moderate the extremes of wealth and poverty, Mr. Solomon, and people like him, will come to a sticky end, like the Tsarist regime, and the extremes of wealth will be moderated by force.
Oh, yes! It can happen here, of course. And it is really stupid to encourage these self-involved, unempathetic, greedy people. And don’t give me the “That’s the American way”. trope. America used to be better than this.
Epicurus believed in moderation. I doubt whether many of these finance people can even spell moderation.