Goldman Sachs isn’t just a name, it’s a shorthand—a quick way of describing the pinnacle of Wall Street. As a result, the firm is probably the most-written about bank on all of Wall Street (and all of the world). If you want to know more about Goldman’s history, this list will make you an expert on the firm’s doings.
My book about Goldman, Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, is a both a history of the firm and a hard hitting look at how it made it through the 2008 financial crisis in better shape than most of its competitors.
In Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success, Lisa Endlich, a former Goldman banker, almost tells it like it is, with a lot of myth burnishing. Ditto for Charles Ellis’ The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs, which is Ellis’ lengthy account of how his friends who were also Goldman partners viewed the firm. (Ellis is the founder of Greenwich Associates, which is a compensation consulting firm that works for Wall Street banks, including Goldman.)
For a harder edged appraisal of Goldman in recent years, there are:
Noncompliant: A Lone Whistleblower Exposes the Giants of Wall Street, Carmen Segarra’s personal account of trying to supervise Goldman Sachs when she was working at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, from which she got fired for pushing too hard on Goldman.
Billion Dollar Whale: The Man who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope is about Goldman’s role in the still-unfolding 1MBD scandal that has become new Goldman CEO David Solomon’s first big headache.
Why I Left Goldman Sachs, by Greg Smith, a former Goldman vice-president, caused a big stink when it came out in 2012, following an opinion piece he wrote for the New York Times. His assertions about how the Goldman “culture” had lost its way leading up to the financial crisis feel like small potatoes these days.
Also worth a read is Janet Hanson’s More than 85 Broads: Women Making Career Choices, Taking Risks and Defining Success — on Their own Terms. Hanson, also a former banker at Goldman tells the stories of what life is like for women on Wall Street. (85 Broad Street, just south of Wall Street, used to be the address of Goldman’s headquarters.)
There have been a zillion articles about Goldman Sachs over the years, but perhaps the most fun (if not always entirely accurate) is Matt Taibbi’s The Great American Bubble Machine, in Rolling Stone, which contained one of the most provocative descriptions of Goldman as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” The rest of the article is pretty amusing too.
Other great magazine reads include
The Bank Job, by Bethany McLean
Did Goldman Sachs Overstep in Criminally Charging Its Ex-Programmer? by Michael Lewis
The Inside Story: Jon Corzine’s Reckless Gamble, by Bryan Burrough and Bethany McLean
And perhaps the best (very long) magazine article ever written about Goldman Sachs, from the inestimable E. J. Kahn, in the New Yorker, about longtime Goldman senior partner Sidney Weinberg: Directors Director