Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blankfein's revenge

"Lu ah uh ace. Oo ain ell ih i aufie ow owlie." It was a strange statement coming from Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, so I politely asked him to repeat it.

"Lu ah uh ace. Oo ain ell ih i aufie ow owlie." Apparently, I had heard him correctly the first time. Puzzled, I turned to his ever present aide, Smitty.

"He said 'Look at my face. You can't tell if I'm laughing or scowling'. It's true, you can't. To most of the world, he's inscrutable," explained Smitty, a dark, statuesque woman of around forty. "I can tell, of course. I just can't tell you."

In a sign that the much maligned Financial Reform Bill may be less ineffectual than many liberals believe, Wall Street has begun to punish Democrats by giving them far less bribe money than they usually proffer. Indeed, at this point in the election cycle, the big bankers have paid out less than 9 million to the DNC, down 65% from the same period in 2008.

"That bill was quite hurtful," says Smitty, a wisp of a smile momentarily flickering across her lips. "It was mean spirited, and it caused our lawyers to work a lot of late nights, calculating the implications and figuring out how to bypass them. At this point, we still see a possible impact to our bottom line of two to three percent. That may not sound like much to you but to put it in perspective, that works out to about thirty times what we've given to both parties combined since the golden years of Reagan, money that will end up coming out of the pockets of our stockholders."

"Ang fu uh oopows," said the voice emanating from behind Blankfein's hand.

"He said 'Thanks for the loopholes'," translated Smitty. "Mister Blankfein is well aware of the fact that the financial situation in this country has caused some members of Congress to feel compelled to take certain symbolic actions. Still, we do wish there had been more loopholes, and larger ones as well. Such a slight cannot be ignored, and yet we feel the need to maintain a civil dialogue, so it puts us in a bit of a quandary. Our solution is not to entirely cease giving donations; that would imply that the process was broken. It's much better that we continue our payouts but to make them insultingly small, keeping the candidates in that limbo between resentful and grateful."

"Mmm, mmm," said Blankfein, hurriedly scratching out a note with his Montblanc Diamante on cream colored paper and handing it to his assistant.

"Mister Blankfein wishes to say that there will be no more fund raising parties until after the election," said Smitty, quickly scanning the note. "He'll reevaluate the situation next spring. And there's a personal note... 'You know that lavish diamond necklace that I gave Senator Gillibrand last month? Well, take a closer look, Kirsten, it's cubic zirconia'."

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