Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein sat down with ABC News' Claire Shipman to discuss the tense subcommittee hearings and his outlook on the future of his company.
Claire Shipman: You have spent a lot of time in Washington lately. Do you think that lawmakers know enough about the financial markets to regulate Wall Street?
Lloyd Blankfein: Yes, I think they know enough. And don't forget they've been living with the crisis now and probably have had a better education about Washington then they wanted to have.
Shipman: Do you? Does Goldman Sachs bear any responsibility for the financial meltdown?
Blankfein: Yes we do. It embarrasses me to say it. But of course we do. They financial system failed and Goldman Sachs is a very influential member of the financial system. So we have to share – we have our share of the burden of that.
Shipman: Listening to a lot of the people who work for you and some of your testimony, it seemed to me there was a real coordinated effort not to say certain words like "I'm sorry, I have regrets, I apologize". That there were just certain phrases that people don't want to utter. Wouldn't it just help to just state the obvious? We're sorry, we apologize, yes we... It seems there was just a bit of hedging about.
Blankfein: I don't think that's the case. I think, look, we had different groups, the first panel are four individuals, by the way, two who are out of the firm now, but four individuals really engaged in market making and I don't know if they have been challenged or asked about these issues before. But I think in the senior people you talk to, I think they were very reflective about their responsibilities and their role.
Shipman: Listening to your testimony, you sounded very logical, very much talking about the way business are done. And maybe business is done that way at Goldman Sachs and maybe it does make sense.
But can you see why a lot of Americans would look at a situation where there is a lot of money being made. A lot of glee being expressed as Americans are losing their homes and think there is something wrong with that. Or look at a situation where you hear that, well wait, we knew this deal wasn't great, but we're selling it anyways. That doesn't seem right. It might be legal, but doesn't feel right.
Blankfein: No, look, we're not solving for a minimum. Our firm has been a client-oriented firm for 140 years and, by the way, very successful in an industry where you can't be successful unless you have the support of your clients.
And we have been on the top of that for many years. The way we treat our clients has been with Goldman Sachs for a very, very long time.
Shipman: I'm not necessarily talking about your clients. I'm just talking about Americans at large who look at what happen and for better or for worse say, those investment banks really did not do us any favors. They're blaming you. They don't understand why anybody should profit from something that hurt so many Americans.
Blankfein: I understand that. I understand that reaction. There were things that were taken by people out of context. Look, there were some people, again, in the market making business, there are people who are long and people who are short and people who are making an observation that when something went down they were making money. They could have been – they were expressing a thought about their PNL.