Monday, July 06, 2009

Goldman Sachs is in the news

Matt Taibbi:

From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression - and they're about to do it again.
And a wonderful reaction to Taibbi's article by Stephen Foley of The Independent:
Perhaps you have heard by now that Goldman Sachs is "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money".

It is the opening line of a piece in Rolling Stone magazine, which has been zinging around the email inboxes of Wall Street for the past few days, and which has got Goldman's tentacles all a-twitching with fury.

Matt Taibbi's piece is a rip-roaring read, obviously. It goes over well-trodden ground, listing all the Goldman alumni in positions of power in governments and at regulators around the world (or not listing them actually, since that would be "absurd and pointless, like trying to make a list of everything"), and then accuses the bank of using its influence to get government out of the way so that it can inflate all the recent investment bubbles, from stocks, through oil prices, to the biggest one of all, the US housing bubble.

In keeping with the hyperbole of the row, Goldman's wonderfully arch spokesman Lucas van Praag described the piece as "an hysterical compilation of conspiracy theories," adding: "Notable ones missing are Goldman Sachs as the third shooter [in John F Kennedy's assassination] and faking the first lunar landing."

Very funny. The Rolling Stone article is indeed a horribly unfair arrangement of the facts. In these howls of rage against the way unfettered finance led us into boom and bust, it is always tempting to assume Goldman must be uniquely villainous just because it has been uniquely profitable – but it is illogical to single out any one institution for stoking investment mania that by definition has many, many participants.

It is also not true that the US government's bailout of Wall Street was a matter of Goldmanites at the Treasury handing taxpayer money over to help out a few of their friends in banking. That is an outright misrepresentation of what happened last autumn, and if people start to believe it, we will doom ourselves to one day letting the banking system collapse – at which point we will learn all over again how ensuring the soundness of the banks is vital to keeping an economy out of a slump.

Yet there has been something troubling me about Goldman's response to this little flap, and it is this: the sheer lack of humility.
And speaking of Goldman Sachs' lack of humility:
Goldman Sachs bankers in line for record bonuses

Bankers at Goldman Sachs could be in line for record bonuses as compensation on Wall Street looks set to rebound in spite of problems in the wider economy.

NEW YORK -- The U.S. Justice Department arrested a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employee and charged him with stealing computer codes related to the firm's high-speed trading platform.

Sergey Aleynikov, a naturalized U.S. citizen who emigrated from Russia, allegedly unlawfully copied, duplicated, downloaded and transferred computer codes from Goldman Sachs and uploaded the codes to a computer server in Germany, according to a complaint filed by federal prosecutors.

The complaint from the government didn't specifically reference Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs was referenced during Saturday's bail hearing, and a person familiar with the matter confirmed that Mr. Aleynikov worked as a computer programmer for the company.

The person familiar with the matter also said, "The theft has had no impact on our clients and no impact on our business."


Mike Goldman said...

I dunno what to do about those cousins of mine. :)

ellroon said...


Mike Goldman said...

I'd take 1% of the blame for 1% of the proceeds.

ellroon said...