Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein spoke with Bloomberg TV's Stephanie Ruhle at the company's technology conference in San Francisco today. Blankfein said he has no plans to leave Goldman: "The combination of this being who I am and what I do and having absolutely no other interests makes me think this is what I'll be doing for a while."
Blankfein said that while he "would love to be wanted" for the role of Treasury Secretary, "that seems like such a distant hypothetical."
Video and excerpts below:
Blankfein on what his next move will be:
"Could you imagine giving up all this? Of course not. The combination of this being who I am and what I do and having absolutely no other interests makes me think I want to be doing this for a while."
On whether he might be Treasury Secretary one day:
"I would love to be wanted. And that seems like such a distant hypothetical at this point, I'll sort of end it there."
On whether he ever wonders why CEOs like Tim Cook don't get the same scrutiny that bank CEOs do:
"I'll tell you, here's another slogan that's trite. It is what it is. We are a very key part, again, of our own industry and help drive other people's industry. When things go well, we've gotten a lot of credit. People of our industry also have made a lot of money in the past when things went well. You could debate who caused what and how many people contributed, but we were certainly near the scene of an accident, and you can debate who contributed and what other things, who could have told what, but you know something? The trauma was very recent. There's going to be a lot of focus on us for a while, and you know something? That also goes with the territory. So pointing finger and acting defensive and saying, gosh, I wish it wasn't here, the way I'm trying to live is I want to spend most of my time learning forward trying to help finance businesses that will improve the economy and those companies, that will improve the health and welfare of people in this country and world. And guess what? I'm not going to outrun the legacy issues, and we'll have to deal with those also. But it's not going to be 90 percent legacy, 10 percent the future."
On whether the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) deal was a good miss for Goldman Sachs:
"We were an underwriter as well. Let me say this. An IPO is the beginning of a life of a public company. It is not the end of it. We regard Facebook as a very important client and a franchise account and we will continue to try to be all over them and help them do their business. It is one certainly one of the more important new companies to become public in the United States over the last several years."
On Tim Cook sitting with Michelle Obama at tonight's State of the Union address and whether Blankfein should be considered an innovator in the same respect:
"He's there for a variety of reasons including just the importance to the country and to the market of Apple not only for its innovation, but for the scale of its business and its market cap and how important it is. The fact is all of us have to be innovators otherwise we would have been weeded out. We must be an innovator in our business because if I think of a number of big broker-dealers and investment banks that were thriving when i entered this industry 30 years ago and how few are left--and this can go industry by industry--we must all execute well and innovate or else our clients will leave us."
On whether he believes he gets enough credit for how innovative Goldman Sachs is:
"The fact of the matter is we are in an industry that will always be somewhat controversial. In most industries, you make a strategic decision of consequence once or twice a year. We make strategic decisions about ourselves but also for our clients and when we do it for our clients, we stand by them and we own that decision also. And a lot of them will be right. Some will be wrong. And even the ones that are right, won't look good for a long time. So we are always going to be a bit in the limelight and some people will wish we had done things differently. Why did you recommend this company be sold to that company? Why did you recommend to somebody that they not finance or expand their business? Why did you recommend to somebody that they do something domestically or overseas. We will always be second guessed on these things. I think some of that comes with the territory throughout a very challenging period. I am always reminding myself, all you can do is the best you can do. By and large, our clients have voted. They have stuck with us and we seem to do ok."