Goldman $achs?

I’m no economist, but I can’t shake the feeling that Goldman Sachs is just the winner of a zero sum game. Do they create wealth, or are they just really good at siphoning wealth away from the rest of the economy?

From the New York Times article, “Goldman’s Bonus Pool Puts It in a Public Relations Bind“:

David A. Viniar, the chief financial officer, was on the defensive Thursday. Talk of bonuses, and whether they were justified, dominated what in another era might have been a celebratory call with the media.

“We are very focused on what is going on in the world,” Mr. Viniar replied to a barrage of questions about whether the bank should pay outsize bonuses in these hard economic times. “We are focused on the economic climate. We are focused on what is going on with other people.”

That last phrase–“we are focused on what is going on with other people”–struck me as either disingenuous or completely out of touch.

Anyone care to defend this?