How Wall Street Thieves, Led by Goldman Sachs, Took Down the Global Economy -- Their Outsized Influence Must be Stopped
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“As you know, a couple of weeks ago we had approached GSC to ask them to act as portfolio selection agent for that Paulson-sponsored trade, and GSC declined given their negative views on most of the credits that Paulson had selected.” (p 564)
They soon found another shill agent to hide Paulson’s role. Within a year, the buyers of the security lost a billion dollars and Paulson made a billion on his bet. Goldman Sachs got the fees for arranging the deal. However, they later had to pay a fine of $550 million to the SEC for failing to disclose Paulson’s role. Meanwhile, Paulson became the most prosperous hedge fund manager in world. In 2010 he earned $2.4 million an HOUR.
Lie #3: 'Honest, we didn’t try to rig the market'
In order to place more and more bets against the toxic mortgages, Goldman Sachs wanted to purchase credit default swaps, which are like insurance policies. You pay a premium to buy a policy on a given toxic security. If that security fails, you get full value. And you don’t have to own the security to place this wager.
Around the time that Bear Stearns started to fail in 2007, GS wanted to buy up more and more of these bets. But first they wanted to drive down the insurance policy prices so they could get them on the cheap and make even more money. Well, it’s against the law to manipulate markets, but nevertheless GS tried to use its market power to “squeeze” the market downward. It didn’t work out because the cascading financial crash intervened. The Senate investigators found the following smoking gun (a self-evaluation from one of the key GS traders):
“In May, while we were remain[ing] as negative as ever on the fundamentals in sub-prime, the market was trading VERY SHORT, and susceptible to a squeeze. We began to encourage this squeeze, with plans of getting very short again, after the short squeezed [sic] cause[d] capitulation of these shorts. This strategy seemed do-able and brilliant, but once the negative fundamental news kept coming in at a tremendous rate, we stopped waiting for the shorts to capitulate, and instead just reinitiated shorts ourselves immediately.” (p 425).
He later denied this was really a squeeze by claiming to investigators that they placed too much emphasis on “words.” But, think about what this reveals. This GS employee in a self-evaluation to his superiors thought it would make him look good if he bragged about trying to engage in obvious illegalities. What does that really say about the venerable Goldman Sachs culture?
Lie #4: 'We’re only doing all this to make markets'
One of the biggest lies can be found in the concerted cover-up during the testimony before Congressional committees and investigators. After obvious coaching from their lawyers, GS executives stated again and again they are only trying to make markets so that sophisticated investors can make trades. The GS executives deny that they pushed the crap off their books onto investors. They were, instead, only trying to help investors find the deals they wanted. Some, GS argues, wanted to bet that the toxic assets would pay off and others that they would fail, and GS, they claim, only gave them both what they wanted. (They said this repeatedly because the disclosure rules for market making are much weaker than if they are promoting and selling securities to investors.)
Lies #5 ,#6, #7…….#101
The list goes on and on. GS manipulated assets to benefit themselves at the expense of their customers. They manipulated prices to benefit themselves at the expense of customers. As part of Abacus, they worked out a private deal with Paulson so that Paulson would pay less for his “insurance”, which in turn hurt the investors on the other side of the bet. And, even after all of these revelations, Goldman Sachs to this day continues to deny that it engaged in a strategy to bet big against the housing market.