Deborah Solomon Demands of Goldman Sachs Strategist: 'What Is a C.E.O. Contributing to Society?'

To that, Abby Joseph Cohen of Goldman Sachs replied: "What about the C.E.O. of the New York Times Company?"
The Times Sunday magazine featured a pretty testy Q&A between reporter Deborah Solomon and Goldman Sachs partner and strategist Abby Joseph Cohen, who didn't take kindly to Solomon's usual batch of leading liberal questions.

The paper's own financial blog Dealbook said "Ms. Cohen might have felt like a punching bag herself after her chat with Ms. Solomon."

Here's some of the exchange. Solomon's question appear in bold, and Cohen's answers (including one pretty smart comeback) are in normal type.

Do you think it's ethically justifiable that certain bankers earn $50 million or $60 million a year at a time when unemployment is nearly 10 percent and income inequality is widening in this country?

The income inequality that you refer to is apparent in many different places. You see it in athletics; you see it in entertainment; you see it in your industry as well. You take a look at the compensation of C.E.O.'s of major corporations, recognizing that those corporations have become much larger - they do business in many different parts around the world - and it's very difficult to know how to properly benchmark the compensation.

You could say that entertainers at least provide entertainment, as opposed to a C.E.O. What is a C.E.O. contributing to society?

What about the C.E.O. of the New York Times Company?

What about her? She's contributing a newspaper to society, which presumably keeps the American public better informed. It has been widely observed that the financial-services industry is not creating a product in the tangible sense.
Keep in mind that the Times sculpts these interviews; an editor's note at the bottom reads: "Interview Has Been Condensed And Edited."

Near the conclusion it got testy:

Do you feel any responsibility for the economic meltdown of 2008, which you failed to foresee?

That's an odd question to be asking me.


I did not think that was part of what we were going to be talking about.