Lloyd Craig Blankfein (born September 20, 1954) is an American business executive. He is currently the CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs. He has been in this position since the May 31, 2006 nomination of former CEO Henry Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush.
Life and career
Blankfein was born in the Bronx borough of New York City to a Jewish family and reared in Brooklyn's Linden Houses, part of the New York City Housing Authority. His father was a clerk with the U.S. Postal Service branch in the Manhattan borough of New York City and his mother was a receptionist. As a boy, he worked as a concession vendor at Yankee Stadium. He received primary and secondary education in the public schools of the New York City Department of Education, and was the valedictorian at Thomas Jefferson High School in 1971. He attended Harvard College, where he lived in Winthrop House, and earned his A.B. in 1975. In 1978, Blankfein received a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School.
Blankfein worked as a corporate tax lawyer for the law firm Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine. In 1981, he joined Goldman's commodities trading arm, J. Aron & Co., as a precious metals salesman in its London office.
He is the Gala Chairman of the Rockefeller family's Asia Society in New York. He serves on the board of the Robin Hood Foundation, a charitable organization seeking to alleviate poverty in New York, as well as on the Board of Overseers of Weill Cornell Medical College.
Blankfein earned a total of $54.4 million in 2006 as one of the highest paid executives on Wall Street. His bonus reflected the performance of Goldman Sachs, which reported record net earnings of $9.5 billion. The compensation included a cash bonus of $27.3 million, with the rest paid in stock and options. While CEO of Goldman Sachs Group in 2007, Blankfein earned a total compensation of $53,965,418, which included a base salary of $600,000, a cash bonus of $26,985,474, stocks granted of $15,542,756 and options granted of $10,453,031.
Blankfein was named as one of "The Most Outrageous CEOs of 2009" by Forbes magazine. Taking a different position, Financial Times, which named Blankfein as its "2009 Person of the Year," stated: "His bank has stuck to its strengths, unashamedly taken advantage of the low interest rates and diminished competition resulting from the crisis to make big trading profits." Critics of Goldman Sachs and Wall Street have taken issue with those practices.
On January 13, 2010, Blankfein testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, that he considered Goldman Sachs's role as primarily a market maker, not a creator of the product (i.e., subprime mortgage-related securities). Goldman Sachs was sued on April 16, 2010 by the SEC for the fraudulent selling of a Synthetic CDO tied to subprime mortgages, a product which Goldman Sachs had created.
With Blankfein at the helm Goldman has also been criticized "by lawmakers and pundits for issues from its pay practices to its role in helping Greece mask the size of its debts." Blankfein testified before Congress in April 2010 at a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He said that Goldman Sachs had no moral or legal obligation to inform its clients it was betting against the products which they were buying from Goldman Sachs because it was not acting in a fiduciary role.
In August 2011, Goldman confirmed that Blankfein had hired high-profile lawyer Reid Weingarten. Weingarten has represented executives including former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and former Enron accounting officer Richard Causey.
Blankfein is a contributor to mostly Democratic party candidates and donated $4,600 to Democratic Party candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2007. Goldman employees and their relatives contributed almost a million dollars to Barack Obama's presidential campaign — making it "the company from which Obama raised the most money in 2008" — and Blankfein has visited the White House ten times as of February 2011. Former Goldman executives who hold senior positions in the Obama administration include Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Mark Patterson, a former Goldman lobbyist who is chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; and Robert Hormats, the undersecretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs.
On April 7, 2009, Blankfein recommended guidelines to overhaul executive compensation. According to The New York Times, he said that lessons from the global financial crisis included the need to "apply basic standards to how we compensate people in our industry."
In November 2009, he declared in an interview, as a banker: "I'm doing God's work." Several days later he indicated that he regretted that remark and said he had intended it as a joke. He also apologized on behalf of Goldman Sachs to the public for unspecified "things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret" and which contributed to the financial and economic crisis. The firm announced a 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, committing $500 million to aid American small businesses.
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