Did Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein invoke the lord's name in vain when he said Wall Street's most successful bank was doing "God's work?" Experts are divided.
"The question of whether the CEO of Goldman Sachs is doing God's work is at one level a very complex one," says Dr. Andrew Abela, chairman of the Department of Business & Economics at the Catholic University of America. Abela, who is working on a book, Catechism for Business, says, "The vast size of the bank and its extensive influence on markets and on government policy, means that it is operating at all times in a moral minefield."
Among the stickier issues facing Goldman is the payment of bonuses. Goldman, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Morgan Stanley (MS) are set to pay nearly $30 billion worth in executive bonuses, according to Bloomberg News. Compensation expense for Goldman alone is expected to more than double from last year to $21.9 billion, or about $691,000 per employee.
Father Oliver Williams, director of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business, said in an interview with DailyFinance that "the whole bonus system is outrageous. Nobody in my field of ethics thinks they are okay" and that executives ought to help those less fortunate with their payouts. He stressed that there is nothing inherently immoral with Goldman Sachs, where his nephew works. "God created the world," he said. "He made the rest of us co-creators. ... Work is part of co-creation."
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