Tag Archives | Goldman Sachs
The investment bank's cult of self-interest is on trial against the whole idea of civilisation — the collective decision by all of us not to screw each other over even if we can. So Goldman Sachs, the world's greatest and smuggest investment bank, has been sued for fraud by the American Securities and Exchange Commission. Legally, the case hangs on a technicality. Morally, however, the Goldman Sachs case may turn into a final referendum on the greed-is-good ethos that conquered America sometime in the 80s – and in the years since has aped other horrifying American trends such as boybands and reality shows in spreading across the western world like a venereal disease. When Britain and other countries were engulfed in the flood of defaults and derivative losses that emerged from the collapse of the American housing bubble two years ago, few people understood that the crash had its roots in the lunatic greed-centered objectivist religion, fostered back in the 50s and 60s by ponderous emigre novelist Ayn Rand.
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The case has not even been heard in court and the company denies all the allegations. Almost every business publication has carried commentaries by insiders who say the government may have a hard time prevailing, and dismissing all the Sturm and Drang.
And yet the public seems to be delighted if not outraged by the SEC’s charges against Goldman Sachs, the opulent investment bank that many Americans see as the poster child of those causing the financial crisis. Even in the world of business where dislike of government crackdowns is dominant, a new poll shows that a majority believe Goldman is getting what it deserves.
Argyle Executive Forum conducted the survey electronically among its senior corporate leadership community.
The precise wording of the survey question was:
As Goldman Sachs Group is currently at the center of a legal maelstrom triggered by the SEC’s fraud charge last week, we want to ask you how you currently feel about the charges.
Fox Business News was engrossed in interviewing a blonder than thou reality TV bimbo when the news that the Securities And Exchange Commission was filing fraud charges against Goldman Sachs broke on Friday afternoon.
The breaking news bulletins were already flying through cyberspace before the Fox Means Business network got around to moving from a snickering interview with a starlet confessing to commodifying and monetizing her appeal to the biggest story in months on the Street beat. Corporate fraud allegations seem to make free market boosters nervous.
At last, the mightiest of investment bank, described as a “giant squid on the face of humanity” by Matt Taibbi in a much-read diatribe, appeared to be in deep trouble. Taibbi himself was not convinced that the Government has the goods on Goldman.
He commented, “…What’s interesting is that I heard whiffs of this story going back as far as a year and you know I’m one of the harshest critics of Goldman Sachs and I actually backed off the story because I didn’t really believe it.… Read the rest
Finally! Despite the cozy relationship between the Obama administration’s financial team of Geithner, Summers, et al with their brethren on Wall Street, the SEC reveals that it has the balls to go up against Goldman Sachs. I fear for the job security of senior SEC staffers, but meanwhile they are hurting Goldman where it counts – the firm’s stock price dropped 10% on the announcement, as reported by NPR:
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The government has accused Goldman Sachs & Co. of defrauding investors by failing to disclose conflicts of interest in mortgage investments it sold as the housing market was faltering.
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday civil fraud charges against the Wall Street powerhouse and one of its vice presidents. The agency alleges Goldman failed to disclose that one of its clients helped create — and then bet against — subprime mortgage securities that Goldman sold to investors.
Investors in the mortgage securities are alleged to have lost more than $1 billion, the SEC noted.
It’s good to know that the banksters at Goldman realize that their lucrative franchise is in peril, but do they really think the arguments in their letter to shareholders will put off calls for criminal action against them? As reported in the New York Post/WSJ:
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The year 2009 was one that some Goldman Sachs executives would like to forget, yet the firm was reliving some of its biggest controversies in its longest-ever annual letter to shareholders, released Wednesday.
The eight-page note presented Goldman’s point of view directly to shareholders ahead of the firm’s May 7 annual meeting. Criticized for putting the bank’s own interests ahead of customers, Goldman Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn said in the letter that clients are at the top of the pecking order.
The two executives used the words “client” or “clients” a total of 56 times, up from 17 in their 2008 shareholder letter.
As described by the inimitable Matt Taibbi, for Rolling Stone:
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On January 21st, Lloyd Blankfein left a peculiar voicemail message on the work phones of his employees at Goldman Sachs. Fast becoming America’s pre-eminent Marvel Comics supervillain, the CEO used the call to deploy his secret weapon: a pair of giant, nuclear-powered testicles. In his message, Blankfein addressed his plan to pay out gigantic year-end bonuses amid widespread controversy over Goldman’s role in precipitating the global financial crisis.
The bank had already set aside a tidy $16.2 billion for salaries and bonuses — meaning that Goldman employees were each set to take home an average of $498,246, a number roughly commensurate with what they received during the bubble years. Still, the troops were worried: There were rumors that Dr. Ballsachs, bowing to political pressure, might be forced to scale the number back. After all, the country was broke, 14.8 million Americans were stranded on the unemployment line, and Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to recover the populist high ground after their bitch-whipping in Massachusetts by calling for a “bailout tax” on banks.
“I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank. I called Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag to ask whether it’s true that Goldman partners feel they need handguns to protect themselves from the angry proletariat. He didn’t call me back. The New York Police Department has told me that “as a preliminary matter” it believes some of the bankers I inquired about do have pistol permits. The NYPD also said it will be a while before it can name names. While we wait, Goldman has wrapped itself in the flag of Warren Buffett, with whom it will jointly donate $500 million, part of an effort to burnish its image — and gain new Goldman clients. Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein also reversed himself after having previously called Goldman’s greed “God’s work” and apologized earlier this month for having participated in things that were “clearly wrong.” Has it really come to this? Imagine what emotions must be billowing through the halls of Goldman Sachs to provoke the firm into an apology. Talk that Goldman bankers might have armed themselves in self-defense would sound ludicrous, were it not so apt a metaphor for the way that the most successful people on Wall Street have become a target for public rage.