Goldman says sorry, ponies up $500 million for small businesses

For its role in the global financial crisis, which had an impact of several trillion dollars, Goldman Sachs feels just awful. The incredibly prestigious bank, one of the few to come through the market mayhem looking pretty damned good, wants you to know that it’s sorry. CEO Lloyd Blankfein said at a conference in New York, “We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret.” And then, he pulled the trigger on the big one: “We apologize.”

To make the warm fuzzy tangible, the company has promised to help 10,000 small businesses in the U.S. recover from the recession, using $500 million over five years to kick-start the process. That’s a lot of cash to commit to the little guys, but let’s put it in perspective: $500 million is 2.3% of the estimated bonus and salary pool for 2009. The cash is not a gift or a grant. Rather, it’s an investment. Goldman wants to make money on its goodwill (duh, what else should Goldman be doing?).

Hey, Goldman’s in the business of helping Goldman (first), which is as it should be. Shareholders are the priority, and image comes next. And, make no mistake about it, the small business support is an image move.

Goldman has wound up in some hot water this year over monstrous bonuses and its rapid rebound from the financial crisis. Already, the company has posted strong earnings, with record profits reported for the first nine months of this year.

[Via Financial Times]

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