Goldman Sachs CEO worries recession more likely than his own economists Landing a job at Goldman Sachs is a golden ticket. It's harder to get hired by Goldman than to get into Harvard. CEO David Solomon says 3,500 workers start this week. He wants them all in the office.

Goldman Sachs CEO sees recession risk as more likely than his own economists do

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If there is a big deal in the business world, Goldman Sachs is probably behind it. Businesses large and small seek it out for financial advice, though Goldman is not immune to economic trouble itself. This week, the bank reported its profits fell almost 50%. NPR's David Gura sat down with its CEO.

DAVID GURA, BYLINE: For college grads who want to make money, a job at Goldman Sachs is still a golden ticket. David Solomon is the bank's chairman and CEO.

DAVID SOLOMON: This week we have about 3,500 undergraduates who are starting their careers here. That's 3,500 out of over 300,000 people that apply for those jobs.

GURA: So just about 1% of applicants made the cut, meaning it's still harder to get into Goldman Sachs than it is to get into Harvard. And something they're sure to notice is how many of their new colleagues are also young.

SOLOMON: Half our organization is in its 20s.

GURA: And 2 1/2 years after the pandemic started, they're not at home in their pajamas. Solomon drew a line in the sand early and told them to come back.

Gerard Cassidy has tracked the big banks for more than 30 years. He's an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

GERARD CASSIDY: The culture of Goldman is very important. It's an esprit de corps. It's eat what you kill. And it works very effectively.

GURA: Solomon told me he's confident the bank has landed deals because of his decision and that it's critical for those new hires.

SOLOMON: They come to work at Goldman Sachs so they can be trained, they can be mentored, they can learn, they can grow. And that just doesn't happen at the same velocity if they're not present and sharing the experience with others.

GURA: Well, right now, they're learning how to navigate a downturn. The Fed Reserve is hiking interest rates aggressively to fight high inflation, and that's been a challenge for Goldman Sachs.

Mike Mayo is a banking analyst with Wells Fargo Securities.

MIKE MAYO: So these are dismal times when it comes to investment banking. Investment banking is down by half versus the last year.

GURA: And then there are larger concerns about where all this may be headed. Right now, economists who work for Goldman say there's a 50% chance of a recession in the next two years. But Solomon's prediction is bleaker.

SOLOMON: I'd say that I think the chance of a recession is higher than that.

GURA: Solomon told me his customers, many of whom are the CEOs of other companies, are anxious and cautious. There's a lot of interest in what the heads of big banks see. Few weeks ago, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, caused a stir when he said an economic hurricane is on the horizon.

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JAMIE DIMON: That hurricane is right up there, down the road, coming our way. We just don't know if it's a minor one or Superstorm Sandy or Andrew or something like that. And it's - you better brace yourself.

GURA: I brought that up with Solomon to see if he agreed with that forecast.

SOLOMON: I'm not a meteorologist, so I'll put aside the metaphors around storms.

GURA: Solomon said this has been a difficult six months for markets, and that's led to a lot of uncertainty. He emphasized he is also uncertain about where the economy is headed.

SOLOMON: No matter how much information you have, no matter how deeply rooted you are in all of this, it's very hard to predict exactly what's going to happen.

GURA: Solomon is going to be in Washington this week to headline the 10,000 Small Businesses Summit. I asked him what advice he has for participants. According to a Goldman Sachs survey, 93% of small business owners who responded said they're worried about a recession in the next year.

SOLOMON: It's probably a moment where you have to be a little bit more cautious. You have to be a little bit more flexible. You have to be a little bit more nimble because you might get things thrown at you.

GURA: It's advice Solomon is also heeding at the business he runs.

David Gura, NPR News, New York.

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