Back in 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi famously called Goldman Sachs “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
Fast forward nearly a decade and it seems Nassim Taleb would agree.
‘The best thing that could happen to society is the bankruptcy of Goldman Sachs.’
Taleb, an NYU professor and the author of “Black Sawn,” sat down with the New Statesman, to discuss everything from “cronyism” to the ever-widening divide between rich and poor .
He also touched on his belief that, as the author of the article put it, “the fiercest circle of hell” is reserved for bankers and neoconservatives.
“Banking is rent-seeking of industrial proportions,” said Taleb, who made his fortune as a derivative trader. “If you’re taking risks, God bless you. This is why I accept inequality. I’ve seen people go from trader to cab driver and back again.”
Taibbi, in his piece, also talked about the notion of inequality and Goldman’s GS, -0.49% role in exacerbating the problem.
“All that money that you’re losing, it’s going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense,” he wrote. “Goldman Sachs is where it’s going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals.”
Taleb, who’s been outspoken about the dangers facing investors in this market, closed his interview with a warning about the perils of rose-colored lenses.
“We’ve survived 200,000 years as humans. Don’t you think there’s a reason why we survived?” he asked. “We’re good at risk management. And what’s our risk management? Paranoia. Optimism is not a good thing.”
As for that Goldman bankruptcy? Don’t bank on it happening soon. The company reported better-than-expected results in January, with revenue rising to $7.8 billion. The stock has trailed the S&P 500 SPX, +0.12% over the past year, but so far in 2018, it’s outperformed the broad market.