Public resignation is a knee in the nuts for Goldman Sachs
Opinion Digest: Martin on Goldman's PR disaster, Wyatt on the questionable appeal of older men
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A KNEE IN THE NUTS FOR GOLDMAN SACHS
IAIN MARTIN ON A SENIOR EXEC'S PUBLIC RESIGNATION
The resignation of a senior Goldman Sachs executive, via an extremely damaging opinion column in The New York Times, is “absolutely devastating” for the Wall Street bank, says Iain Martin in The Daily Telegraph. The banker, Greg Smith, is particularly critical of the “toxic” culture at Goldman and the disrespect shown to clients. Martin says we should now watch for the reaction of the company’s PRs. If Smith is “immediately machine-gunned”, he says, it might confirm the thrust of his allegations. “Large institutions that have accrued so much power can be curiously vulnerable when the zeitgeist changes and they are too big to notice. This is a good thing. We are forever hearing that large global corporates really run the world now. It is refreshing when we rediscover that a knee in the nuts, in the form of an op-ed in a newspaper, can still have a serious impact.”
AMERICAN HOSPITALITY CAN BE DANGEROUS
SIMON JENKINS ON CAMERON’S TRIP TO DC
Washington hospitality is dangerously intoxicating to British prime ministers, says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. Tony Blair became “swivel-eyed” after his first White House banquet. Now David Cameron gets an invitation to fly on Air Force One. There’s a danger “a cocaine rush of power could lead Britain to become the 51st state”. Cameron’s Washington agenda is filled with “portentous posing”, from what to do about Afghanistan and Somalia, to Syria and the Arab Spring. But there’s no reason he couldn’t talk to Barack Obama about these issues over the phone. There’s a big difference between realpolitik and “lounging about on Air Force One”. Back in Britain there is a budget to consider and a series of battles over NHS reforms, bankers' pay, child benefit and financial regulation. Allocating time and attention is the hardest part of being prime minister. It’s even harder when they’re being feted in foreign capitals. “While Cameron is carousing his way round the world, the mice are gnawing at the work of his government.”
GIVE ME A MAN WITH PECS NOT SPECS
PETRONELLA WYATT ON OLDER MEN
The mature alpha male has a certain allure, says Petronella Wyatt in The Daily Telegraph, commenting on former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson’s relationship with academic Tina Jennings (he’s 80, she’s 43) and the news that Terry Jones, 70, has allegedly proposed to his 29-year-old girlfriend, Anna Soderstrom. It would be “churlish not to wish these happy couples a rousing mazel tov”. But girls must beware, says Wyatt. “I am an expert. All my adult life I have been known as ‘the girl who likes older men’.” Older men have ingrained bad habits, she says, and a Pygmalion-like desire to “mould” you. They may provide stimulating companionship, and a rarefied lifestyle, but eventually money provides little comfort. As the woman grows older, so does the man. Jennings and Soderstrom appear to be in love, but “I wish their partners were closer to them in age”. Experience suggests that in a few years from now, “one or the other of them will be hankering for a man with pecs instead of specs”.
CHINA RUNS OUT OF ABLE-BODIED LABOUR
ANATOLE KALETSKY ON BEIJING’S DILEMMA
Most people returning from China feel like shouting: “I’ve seen the future and it works”, says Anatole Kaletsky in The Times. China has the world’s most important economy in terms of growth, and will overtake the US economy in terms of total output in about ten years. Yet despite its great levels of literacy, thousands of skyscrapers, and brand new high-speed rail lines, “there are enormous political and social obstacles to overcome”. The nation’s most daunting problem is the impact of its one-child policy, still officially imposed by the Communist regime. China’s working population peaked this year and from now on will rapidly decline. Today there are five workers aged 20-59 supporting every citizen over 60. But by 2032 there will only be two – the same as Italy and Germany today. “How will China cope with the reduction in able-bodied labour?” This is now the biggest question in China: “Will we get old before we get rich, or the other way round?”
IT'S TIME WE TRADED WATER
PAUL SIMON ON THE 'RAINY' MYTH
Announcements of hosepipe bans because of the looming drought should come as no surprise to us, says Paul Simon in The Times. It's a myth that Britain is drenched in rain. Southern England is more like the Mediterranean in terms of rainfall if not sunshine. In these dry times, London mayor Boris Johnson and others have suggested piping in surplus water from Scotland, brimming from its wettest year on record. It's one solution, but it would be "far easier, cheaper and quicker to build pipelines between neighbouring water companies" and sell surpluses to areas in need. "Unfortunately this eminently sensible idea has been throttled by the crazy, bureaucratic set-up of the water industry." Currently, there is very little water trading, with hardly any such schemes established since privatisation in 1989.