US Banks Force Interns to Work Absurdly Long Days

What is the most capitalist metaphor you can think of?

Whatever you can conjure, I doubt it will be as capitalist as this:

21-year-old Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern Moritz Erhardt worked for 72 hours straight; after finally returning home, he suffered a seizure while showering, and died. His autopsy indicates that the young man, who suffered from epilepsy, may have had his fatal seizure triggered by the non-stop work.

In other words, Bank of America, which has $2.1 trillion in assets (just for perspective, that’s $2,100,000,000,000), likely worked a young intern to death.

That is capitalism at its finest. That is the “efficiency” it engenders.

In response, the ever munificent Goldman Sachs announced that it would be bending over backward to ensure the well being of its interns by reducing their work days to… 17 hours. That’s right, 17 hours—over twice as long as the average work day. Interns are going to be encouraged to leave the office at midnight and return at 7 am.

Like many banks, Goldman Sachs relies heavily on intern labor. The bank uses approximately 2,900 interns every summer.

Salon explained further:

Investment banking internships are notoriously grueling. Recently, an email addressed to Barclays’ Global Power & Utilities interns began circulating, outlining “10 power commandments” they were expected to follow. The supposedly humorous instructions included: “We expect you to be the last ones to leave every night… no matter what,” “Never take your jacket off at work,” and “I recommend bringing a pillow to the office.”

In a statement, Barclays responded to the letter: “We have implemented policies and training guidelines to enable employees to gain valuable experience while at the same time maintaining a healthy work-life balance.”

The issue of workplace stress has crept into mainstream debate, largely thanks to efforts from people like Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington. According to studies from Yale and the Families and Work Institute, around one-in-four Americans report feeling often burned out or extremely stressed at their jobs.
As investigative reporter Matt Taibbi infamously wrote of Goldman Sachs, banks are “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”