Shares of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) on Thursday recovered nearly all losses sustained a day earlier, when a disgruntled former executive quit with an angry parting shot published in the New York Times.

At the close the shares were at $123.06, up $2.69, or 2.2 percent, valuing the financial services giant at $60.9 billion.

Before Wednesday's diatribe by Greg Smith, a 12-year Goldman employee who was based in the firm's London office, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that Goldman had passed a critical "stress test" of its balance sheet.

Shares fell 3.4 percent Wednesday, wiping out $2.15 billion in value, following the publication on the Times' opinion page of an essay in which Smith lamented the "decline in the firm's moral fiber" and said Goldman traders and directors have little regard for clients' interests.

Goldman issued a statement denying Smith's claims. Its chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, and president, Gary Cohn, sent employees a memo in which they expressed disappointment over Smith's essay while saying his claims "do not reflect our values, our culture and how the vast majority of people" at Goldman think about their work.

Smith's column and resignation provoked global interest and comment, especially after several recent events involving his former employer. These include, among other lapses, the reporting by Goldman of its first quarterly loss since going public in 1999 and a $550 million payment to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 for structuring a complex mortgage product that was designed to fail.

Also, Goldman Sachs received part of the 2008 one-time $700 billion bank bailout orchestrated by the administration of President George W. Bush. Bush's treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, had been Goldman's CEO. Later, Blankfein and other executives were required to testify before congressional committees about their role in the mortgage crisis and financial collapse.

The Financial Times noted Thursday that Goldman's traditional code of silence had collapsed. "More bankers are now prepared to speak, at least privately, about their worries that life at the bank will not be as lucrative or as fun as it was in the past," the U.K. newspaper observed.

Moreover, the paper commented, Smith's column raises questions "whether the problems run deeper and whether it is time for Mr. Blankfein to retire."