By Patricia Sellers
August 25, 2009

“I saw it as gonzo, over-the-top writing that some people might find fun to read. I was shocked that others saw it as being supporting evidence that Goldman Sachs had burned down the Reichstag, shot the Archduke Ferdinand and fired on Fort Sumter.”

– Goldman Sachs

chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein in “The Rage Over Goldman Sachs” in this week’s Time magazine. Blankfein is talking about last month’s damning story about Goldman in Rolling Stone. For a guy who thinks hard about the image that he and his firm project (see Blankfein’s Best Advice), he sure isn’t cutting many breaks. Just read today’s page 1 story in the Wall Street Journal charging that Goldman favors big clients in divvying out stock tips.

This week’s Time story, however, goes a long way toward humanizing the world’s most powerful investment banker—a supremely quirky fellow who grew up poor in Brooklyn, made it to Harvard at 16, and didn’t refashion himself for Fortune 500 leadership until mid-career.

At heart, as Time (and Fortune) writer Bill Cohan notes, Blankfein is a trader who believes that the best of his kind are risk-takers who recalibrate better than others do. “The best traders are not right more than they are wrong. They are quick adjusters,” Blankfein says. Now, as the populist ire against Goldman endures, Blankfein is readjusting nonstop.

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