Buffett, Goldman and the Past is Prologue?
I'm currently reading The Snowball (slowly, it is very long) and as luck would have it, over the weekend I started getting into the chapters on Warren Buffett's dealings with Salomon Brothers, which clearly was interesting given what transpired Friday with Goldman Sachs (and Buffett's stake in it). And my goodness, what eerie parallels, including the motivation to bring on Buffett's reputation as well as Buffett's ability to make a deal that would help bolster a firm's reputation although in fact, he's actually getting a deal that would have little downside for him.
My reading last night went further into the Salomon Brothers mess that Buffett found himself embroiled in, as well as unsympathetic officials at the SEC dubbing Salomon "rotten to the core," a line that still resonated with me this morning. I mean, what might that sound like? Could a "vampire squid" be described thusly? (No offense to the actual vampire squids in the wild, of course.) Haha.
Then lo and behold, this afternoon I see The Corporate Library blog has a post today by Nell Minow, which also links to a video discussion of the Goldman situation that ends with the summation of... "rotten to the core."
Well I love synchronicity. ;) Although I guess you could also call it lucky timing having to do with my reading speed combined with whatever other often non-productive stuff I do with my spare time.
I find it interesting that the same things-- or at least eerily similar things -- happen over and over again and the lessons don't ever seem to get learned, despite the fact that most of us would wonder, why not? As for Warren Buffett, well, I have great respect for him (of course, and I've made that clear in many of my pieces). I do love that he often philosophizes on the ethics front, pointing out some folks might not metaphorically have all their important accessories when the tide goes out, seeks out great businesses, and so forth. But this kind of reminds me of why I freak out at the concept that some people might have unreserved, unconditional admiration for the decisions of others and maybe not question some decisions. Clearly even the smartest folks do make mistakes (of course, we are all human!). I know I do, sometimes boy, do I ever, but the assumption Warren Buffett couldn't make mistakes is a pretty faulty one. I have no idea whether this thing with Goldman will end up a tempest in a teapot or not; some people seem to be arguing that it will. But shades of things that have in fact transpired before -- where lessons should have been learned and some of the general themes seem painfully familiar -- are interesting to say the least.