But a look at history - at the history of Goldman, in particular - shows that there was another time when Wall Street's perceived lack of immorality was threatening to spin the industry into chaos, and there was a man who tried to codify what it meant to behave honorably in finance.
The man was John Whitehead, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, who spearheaded the firm's business principles back in the 1950s after a years-long government investigation of collusion threatened to destroy investors' faith in Goldman and other banks. The business principles, which are recited like catechism and which Greg Smith kept at his desk, are here.
What's more interesting is how and why Whitehead created them - his ideas and his state of mind, the perspective that would cause him to want to impose some kind of moral order on the unchecked pursuit of profit.
"If all data was clear, a lot fewer people would subtract value from the world," he says. "A lot more people would add value."
...Factual's plan, outlined in a big orange room with a few tables and walled with whiteboards, is to build the world's chief reference point for thousands of interconnected supercomputing clouds. The digital world is expected to hold a collective 2.7 zettabytes of data by year-end, an amount roughly equivalent to 700 billion DVDs. Factual, which now has 50 employees, could prove immensely valuable as this world grows and these databases begin to interact.
Only a generation ago, Ross Perot did a pretty good job of getting votes as a third party candidate.
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