It was only two months ago that Lloyd Blankfein, in one of the all time great Wall Street communication goofs, tried to argue that his firm Goldman Sachs was doing “God’s work.” He didn’t learn his lesson. At the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s magnificently testy first public hearing today, Mr. Blankfein blamed the near-apocalyptic international financial crisis on “acts of God.”
Commission Chairman Phil Angelides, a Democrat and the former California State Treasurer cut in. “These,” he said, “were acts of men and women.”
Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit was not around, but Mr. Blankfein was joined by Bank of America’s new chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan, and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, who told a story about his daughter. She called from school to ask, “Dad, what’s a financial crisis?” He told her that it was just something that happens every few years. “It’s not a mystery. It’s not a surprise.”
Morgan Stanley’s John Mack was more contrite–or, to be more precise, was the only one thoroughly willing to call for less risk and more regulation.
But his face, like the others, was full of all kinds of emotions: There were scrunched noses, pressed lips, elongated eyebrows, downturned mouths, and hands gesticulating relatively wildly. Click on the photo above for a slideshow of the highlights.