Asked for a single word that described how he felt when he walked out of Tuesday's Senate hearing, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said: "Humbled."
"It was quite a humbling experience to be in a position where Goldman Sachs, which prides itself on the role it performs in the U.S. economy ... [had] to defend itself against some of the charges that were made," Blankfein said in an interview today with NPR's Michele Norris.
He also said that "some of the things that Goldman Sachs did contributed to the crisis," including financing over-leveraged real estate. Lots of other finance companies did similar things, Blankfein said, and Goldman's role in the system wasn't unique.
Goldman and other financial institutions need to do a better job of spotting bubbles, he said. And called for the creation of a legal mechanism that allows failing institutions to be "put out of business in a way that doesn't jeopardize the entire system." (This is what's known as "resolution authority" in the finance-reform debate.)
And he repeated the argument that he made at length during the Senate hearing, when the company was accused of betting against its clients.
When Goldman is buying and selling securities, "we are the market maker, helping people to acquire the kinds of risks they want to have," he said. "The clients we have are not deciding to buy or sell something because of what our position is."
The interview is airing today on All Things Considered.