Monday, April 19, 2010

Email to ethics professionals re Goldman

Sent: 4/18/2010 ______.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: What do ethics professionals think about Goldman?

Goldman is hot off the weekend's headline news.

The immediate speculation is that the plaintiffs' lawyers are "foaming at the mouth".

Will the plaintiffs' lawyers make Goldman more ethical?

I think not. (See Does the Civil Liability System Undermine Business Ethics? )

What do you think?

Rob Shattuck



I'm wondering whether you might want to begin by thinking a bit about the role of bonus in all this? Indeed, you might want to step back a step further and ask whether employees of GS were taught to think too much about people in general, and themselves in particular, as merely self-interested creatures all of whose interests must come down to $$$.

The court cases, if we ever have trials, will reveal a good deal about who knew what and when. We may even find out that, at crucial stages, the left hand of client service did not know what the right hand of hedging was doing. Getting such information out is one good thing plaintiff's lawyers can do. Recovering GS's ten billion in bonus to executives and seeing the money paid to clients (with 1/3 to their lawyers may be another) seems like a fair outcome. I don't think it will make Goldman more ethical--but that's because I think GS will probably be going the way of Arthur Anderson, Enron, and all the other organizations that forgot the difference between a fair return and "wealth maximazation".

Picking on plaintiff's lawyers is like picking on the vultures. By the time a company is in danger of being made less ethical by fear of lawsuits, it is already falling well short of good business practices. The vultures do not gather over the heads of the healthy.


Hate to be flip or ignorant, but I haven’t a clue.

But then, Zhou Enlai, when asked about the impact of the French Revolution, reportedly said, “It is too soon to say." Check back with me.


legal systems are reactive and don't make anybody more is a fear based control type system...

leadership development and training make people more ethical

socialization can do that too


Remove me from the mailing list, please


No, and it will not make them taller or healthier. But it may claw back some of the money stolen from investors and restore a measure of justice. And that is ethical. Of course the rent (attorneys fees) is sky high in that hall of justice.

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