Goldman Sachs at 150

To mark the 150th anniversary of Goldman Sachs, documentary filmmaker Ric Burns chronicles the firm’s history from its founding after the Civil War up until today. Through in-depth interviews with leaders of the firm past and present, the films explore the evolution of Goldman Sachs and the global economy across a century and a half of growth, change and innovation.


Part 1 – Beginnings – 1869
In 1869, a 48-year-old German Jewish immigrant and one-time street peddler named Marcus Goldman with no background in finance hangs out a sign that reads “M. Goldman, Broker and Banker” at 30 Pine Street. Over the next five decades, what started as Goldman’s tiny family-owned partnership would rise to become one of the most innovative and enterprising banks on Wall Street. 


Part 2 – Hubris – 1929
After Henry Goldman’s departure from the firm, the seven remaining partners reach outside the family for the first time for a leader. Over the next decade, as the stock market climbs, Waddill Catchings would lead the firm into ever more daring financial schemes – culminating in the crash of 1929 and financial catastrophe for the firm.


Part 3 – Recovery – 1930
In the years following the crash, two factors would make it possible for the battered firm to regroup: the unswerving commitment of the Sachs family to stay the course; and their decision to entrust the firm’s future to a high-school dropout named Sidney Weinberg. For the next four decades, the firm’s fate would be linked to his career.



Part 4 – Changing Times – 1969
In 1969, leadership of the firm would pass to Gus Levy – who had arrived three decades earlier, working in the trading department. In the decades to come, Levy – one of the first traders to head a major investment bank – would rise to become one of the greatest innovators in American finance.



Part 5 – Takeoff – 1976
A hundred years of history would come together in the leadership of the two men who succeeded Gus Levy in 1976 as co-senior partners of Goldman Sachs: John Whitehead and John Weinberg. Both men saw the vast potential for growth in a changing economy and how the firm would have to change to grasp that potential.



Part 6 – Going Global – 1989
Under the continued co-senior partnership of John Whitehead and John Weinberg, Goldman Sachs expands dramatically overseas for the first time in its history – beginning in London and extending across the European continent.



Part 7 – Going Public – 1999
In the spring of 1999 – after 130 years as a private partnership, and following nearly a decade and a half of internal debate and sometimes painful soul-searching about the nature of the firm’s underlying structure – Goldman Sachs, now under the leadership of Hank Paulson, becomes a publicly-traded company.



Part 8 – Around the World – 2000
In the decade following its initial public offering, Goldman Sachs undergoes the greatest period of growth and change in the history of the firm.



Part 9 – Crisis – 2008
In 2008, Goldman Sachs, now led by Lloyd Blankfein, confronts the worst financial crisis since the Crash of ’29 – altering the landscape of investment banking around the world.


Part 10 – Going Forward – 2019
Goldman Sachs reaches its 150th anniversary year, with David Solomon now leading the firm into a new era filled with opportunities, challenges, responsibilities and possibilities for innovation and change.


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