May 24, 2016
Don’t know what to read? Let Goldman Sachs tell you.
by Ian Dreiblatt
Goldman Sachs: financial giant, hotbed of enthusiasm for subprime mortgages, and hapless recipient of your hard-earned money. Who better to tell you what to read?
Well, now they are telling you what to read, in the form of a recently-published recommended book list. We’re talking about people who incurred $550 million in fines for schemes to turn a profit on the civilization-threatening financial crisis they themselves had helped create, and the line between genius and chutzpah is notoriously hard to draw, so, yeah, I’d like to know what’s on these folks’ bedside tables.
First things first, and no big shock: they’re really into capitalism. The 120-item-strong list includes titles like The GE Work-Out: How to Implement GE’s Revolutionary Method for Busting Bureaucracy & Attacking Organizational Problems (spoiler alert), Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (very, very well, that’s how), and—my personal favorite—The Quotations of Chairman Greenspan: Words from the Man Who Can Shake the World (shake shake shake). There are also several books by investment advisor and inaugural Paris Review managing editor John Train, which are actually pretty good, probably.
A further look at the list, which the financial reporting site valuewalk.com called “impressive and long,” reveals some more unsurprising titles, like The Essays of Warren Buffett and Bill Gross on Investing, as well as some fairly technical-sounding items like High Finance in the Euro-Zone: Competing in the New European Capital Market. Amusingly, a subgrouping of the “Industry Background and Flavor” section, including books like Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker and Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, comes below a disclaimer that reads, “The following popular works are, of course, exaggerated depictions of the darker side of the industry. However, they do provide some of the flavor of life on ‘The Street.’”
Nowhere to be found was David Shirreff’s Break Up the Banks!, which notes, among other things, that Goldman Sachs is one of several institutions whose governance the Securities and Exchange Commission has “signally failed to affect.” For that matter, if I’m honest, Bill Gates’s list sounds like a lot more fun. Still, it’s good to know what the hillbillies cooking meth on our lawns will be reading as they try to decide who they want to be when they grow up.
Ian Dreiblatt is the former Director of Digital Media at Melville House.