Showing posts sorted by relevance for query goldman sachs. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query goldman sachs. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, January 31, 2010

jpmorgan vs. goldman sachs

HuffPo | We are witnessing an epic battle between two banking giants, JPMorgan Chase (Paul Volcker) and Goldman Sachs (Geithner/Summers/Rubin). Left strewn on the battleground could be your pension fund and 401K.

The late Libertarian economist, Murray Rothbard, wrote that U.S. politics since 1900, when William Jennings Bryan narrowly lost the presidency, has been a struggle between two competing banking giants, the Morgans and the Rockefellers. The parties would sometimes change hands, but the puppeteers pulling the strings were always one of these two big-money players. No popular third party candidate had a real chance at winning, because the bankers had the exclusive power to create the national money supply and therefore held the winning cards.

In 2000, the Rockefellers and the Morgans joined forces, when JPMorgan and Chase Manhattan merged to become JPMorgan Chase Co. Today the battling banking titans are JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, an investment bank that gained notoriety for its speculative practices in the 1920s. In 1928, it launched the Goldman Sachs Trading Corp., a closed-end fund similar to a Ponzi scheme. The fund failed in the stock market crash of 1929, marring the firm's reputation for years afterwards. Former Treasury Secretaries Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers all came from Goldman, and current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner rose through the ranks of government as a Summers/Rubin protégé. One commentator called the U.S. Treasury "Goldman Sachs South."

Goldman's superpower status comes from something more than just access to the money spigots of the banking system. It actually has the ability to manipulate markets. Formerly just an investment bank, in 2008 Goldman magically transformed into a bank holding company. That gave it access to the Federal Reserve's lending window; but at the same time it remained an investment bank, aggressively speculating in the markets. The upshot was that it can now borrow massive amounts of money at virtually 0% interest, and it can use this money not only to speculate for its own account but to bend markets to its will.

But Goldman Sachs has been caught in this blatant market manipulation so often that the JPMorgan faction of the banking empire has finally had enough. The voters too have evidently had enough, as demonstrated in the recent upset in Massachusetts that threw the late Senator Ted Kennedy's Democratic seat to a Republican. That pivotal loss gave Paul Volcker, chairman of President Obama's newly formed Economic Recovery Advisory Board, an opportunity to step up to the plate with some proposals for serious banking reform. Unlike the string of Treasury Secretaries who came to the government through the revolving door of Goldman Sachs, former Federal Reserve Chairman Volcker came up through Chase Manhattan Bank, where he was vice president before joining the Treasury. On January 27, market commentator Bob Chapman wrote in his weekly investment newsletter The International Forecaster:

A split has occurred between the paper forces of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. Mr. Volcker represents Morgan interests. Both sides are Illuminists, but the Morgan side is tired of Goldman's greed and arrogance... Not that JP Morgan Chase was blameless, they did their looting and damage to the system as well, but not in the high handed arrogant way the others did. The recall of Volcker is an attempt to reverse the damage as much as possible. That means the influence of Geithner, Summers, Rubin, et al will be put on the back shelf at least for now, as will be the Goldman influence. It will be slowly and subtly phased out... Washington needs a new face on Wall Street, not that of a criminal syndicate.

Goldman's crimes, says Chapman, were that it "got caught stealing. First in naked shorts, then front-running the market, both of which they are still doing, as the SEC looks the other way, and then selling MBS-CDOs to their best clients and simultaneously shorting them."

Volcker's proposal would rein in these abuses, either by ending the risky "proprietary trading" (trading for their own accounts) engaged in by the too-big-to-fail banks, or by forcing them to downsize by selling off those portions of their businesses engaging in it. Until recently, President Obama has declined to support Volcker's plan, but on January 21 he finally endorsed it.

Friday, November 04, 2011

the corzine wall st. ag holder vampire squid gangster bankster backstory


Democracy Now | AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to Oakland to find out about this first general strike since 1946. But first, from the economy in Europe, we turn now to a major banking scandal here in the United States. On Monday, the commodities and derivatives brokerage house MF Global Holdings filed one of the largest bankruptcies in American corporate history, with almost $40 billion in liabilities. It’s the largest failure on Wall Street since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

The chair and the chief executive officer of MF Global Holdings is Jon Corzine, the former New Jersey governor, U.S. senator. Corzine is also the former CEO of Goldman Sachs.

MF Global is also the biggest U.S. casualty so far of the European debt crisis. MF Global filed for bankruptcy in part because of risky bets on debt issued by Italy, Portugal and Spain. MF Global shocked markets last week after disclosing a $191 million quarterly loss. This saw its shares fall by two-thirds and its credit rating cut exponentially. The firm had made big bets on sovereign bonds issued by European countries, but the unsteady future of the eurozone meant investors downgraded the firm’s prospects.

Yesterday, regulators noted MF Global did not separate its customers’ money from its own funds, although required to do so by law. They also said the firm may have transferred hundreds of millions of dollars in customer funds to avoid detection by authorities. In a Bloomberg article called "Others Pay Price for Corzine’s Risky Revenge," journalist William Cohan writes, "More than three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the onset of the financial crisis, we don’t have in place anything close to necessary regulations to try to prevent companies like MF Global from exploding."

So we’re going to William Cohan right now. He lives right here in New York City. He’s in our studio, contributing editor to Vanity Fair, author of several books, including Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World.

William Cohan, welcome to Democracy Now!

WILLIAM COHAN: Thank you, Amy. Nice to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: The significance of this bankruptcy?

WILLIAM COHAN: Well, I mean, it’s extraordinary—that’s the thing—because it didn’t have to happen. You have a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, albeit he left in 1999, and between now and then he was a senator from New Jersey and a governor from New Jersey, as you pointed out. He hadn’t done, himself, a trade since 1986, so he was somewhat removed. But this was all about his own psychological need for redemption, to get back what he lost by getting canned from Goldman Sachs in 1999, his desire to be a major player again on Wall Street. He decided to swing for the fences, make a huge bet on these European bonds, which, by the way, may turn out to be correct. We don’t know yet, because as you were saying in your previous reports, you know, this is all in flux. However, the markets, once they heard about the size of the bet—and Corzine should have known better, because he’s lived through 2008—once they heard about the size of the bets, they realized that this is essentially a house of cards, and they had lost total confidence in his leadership and his ability to pay their debts when they became due.

AMY GOODMAN: The FBI is now investigating?

WILLIAM COHAN: The FBI is investigating because, you know, one of the no-nos on Wall Street is using your customers’ funds for your own corporate needs. Those are supposed to be segregated. It’s unclear still—I mean, let’s not jump to too many conclusions here. They’re investigating it. It’s unclear. It could be bad accounting. It could be bad reconciliation of those accounts. But at the moment, it’s looking like funds are missing and that they were used—customer funds were used to try to shore up their own internal problems.

AMY GOODMAN: You interviewed Jon Corzine in MF Global, right?

WILLIAM COHAN: Yes, at his offices. He had one—he took over the old offices, and then he moved them to new offices, to Park Avenue Plaza on East 52nd Street, which is a, you know, sort of notorious Wall Street building. And basically, his whole strategy—he was very clear—

AMY GOODMAN: You mean, Occupy encampment is in the wrong place?

WILLIAM COHAN: Well, I would say yes. That’s a whole 'nother subject, but yes. Wall Street is in midtown, not downtown anymore. But Corzine was—we were talking about Goldman Sachs, obviously, in the course of my book, but he was very clear about what he was going to do at MF Global. He was going to take basically a sleepy, backwater—basically a clearing operation and really juice it in terms of risk taking. And this was all a plan. I mean, he, in his—he was brought into MF Global by another former Goldman Sachs senior partner, a guy by the name of Chris Flowers, who is now a private equity—a successful private equity investor, who had been a colleague of Jon Corzine's at Goldman when Corzine was the CEO. This fellow, Flowers, owns about a 10 percent stake in MF Global. He’s one of its biggest investors. And so, he thought bringing Corzine in would, again, help change the strategy, juice the strategy, and encourage the firm to take more risk.

AMY GOODMAN: And what’s Corzine’s relationship with Goldman right now?

WILLIAM COHAN: Well, he’s just an ex-senior partner who, you know, benefited to the tune of something like $300 or $400 million in Goldman Sachs stock when Goldman went public in 1999.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the $700 million that are missing?

WILLIAM COHAN: Well, that number seems to be shifting all the time. But again, that’s the customer accounts. In other words, if I was doing business with MF Global, and I now wanted to get my money out, they’re telling me, "Oh, either your account is blocked, or we can’t get that to you. We don’t know where that money is." Well, that is a major no-no on Wall Street, and probably criminal if it’s found out that they intentionally did this to cover their own losses on these investments that they made in these bonds.

Monday, April 13, 2009

goldman sachs seeks to shut down blog

UK Telegraph | Goldman Sachs hires a law firm to shut blogger's site. Goldman Sachs is attempting to shut down a dissident blogger who is extremely critical of the investment bank, its board members and its practices. The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.

Florida-based Mr Morgan began a blog entitled "Facts about Goldman Sachs" – the web address for which is goldmansachs666.com – just a few weeks ago. In that time Mr Morgan, a registered investment adviser, has added a number of posts to the site, including one entitled "Does Goldman Sachs run the world?". However, many of the posts relate to other Wall Street firms and issues.

According to Chadbourne & Parke's letter, dated April 8, the bank is rattled because the site "violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights" and also "implies a relationship" with the bank itself.

Unsurprisingly for a man who has conjoined the bank's name with the Number of the Beast – although he jokingly points out that 666 was also the S&P500's bear-market bottom – Mr Morgan is unlikely to go down without a fight.

He claims he has followed all legal requirements to own and operate the website – and that the header of the site clearly states that the content has not been approved by the bank.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

how goldman sachs pumped and dumped the u.s. economy

Rolling Stone | The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled-dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.

By now, most of us know the major players. As George Bush's last Treasury secretary, former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson was the architect of the bailout, a suspiciously self-serving plan to funnel trillions of Your Dollars to a handful of his old friends on Wall Street. Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's former Treasury secretary, spent 26 years at Goldman before becoming chairman of Citigroup - which in turn got a $300 billion taxpayer bailout from Paulson. There's John Thain, the rear end in a top hat chief of Merrill Lynch who bought an $87,000 area rug for his office as his company was imploding; a former Goldman banker, Thain enjoyed a multibillion-dollar handout from Paulson, who used billions in taxpayer funds to help Bank of America rescue Thain's sorry company. And Robert Steel, the former Goldmanite head of Wachovia, scored himself and his fellow executives $225 million in golden parachute payments as his bank was self-destructing. There's Joshua Bolten, Bush's chief of staff during the bailout, and Mark Patterson, the current Treasury chief of staff, who was a Goldman lobbyist just a year ago, and Ed Liddy, the former Goldman director whom Paulson put in charge of bailed-out insurance giant AIG, which forked over $13 billion to Goldman after Liddy came on board. The heads of the Canadian and Italian national banks are Goldman alums, as is the head of the World Bank, the head of the New York Stock Exchange, the last two heads of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York - which, incidentally, is now in charge of overseeing Goldman - not to mention ...

But then, any attempt to construct a narrative around all the former Goldmanites in influential positions quickly becomes an absurd and pointless exercise, like trying to make a list of everything. What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain - an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.

The bank's unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pump-and-dump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere - high gas prices, rising consumer-credit rates, half-eaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts. All that money that you're losing, it's going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense, Goldman Sachs is where it's going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth - pure profit for rich individuals.

They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased. They've been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s - Justify Fulland now they're preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Taibbi Redux: the five bubble history of the vampire squid

rollingstone |  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
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.

By now, most of us know the major players. As George Bush's last Treasury secretary, former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson was the architect of the bailout, a suspiciously self-serving plan to funnel trillions of Your Dollars to a handful of his old friends on Wall Street. Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's former Treasury secretary, spent 26 years at Goldman before becoming chairman of Citigroup — which in turn got a $300 billion taxpayer bailout from Paulson. There's John Thain, the asshole chief of Merrill Lynch who bought an $87,000 area rug for his office as his company was imploding; a former Goldman banker, Thain enjoyed a multi-billion-dollar handout from Paulson, who used billions in taxpayer funds to help Bank of America rescue Thain's sorry company. And Robert Steel, the former Goldmanite head of Wachovia, scored himself and his fellow executives $225 million in golden-parachute payments as his bank was self-destructing. There's Joshua Bolten, Bush's chief of staff during the bailout, and Mark Patterson, the current Treasury chief of staff, who was a Goldman lobbyist just a year ago, and Ed Liddy, the former Goldman director whom Paulson put in charge of bailed-out insurance giant AIG, which forked over $13 billion to Goldman after Liddy came on board. The heads of the Canadian and Italian national banks are Goldman alums, as is the head of the World Bank, the head of the New York Stock Exchange, the last two heads of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — which, incidentally, is now in charge of overseeing Goldman — not to mention …

But then, any attempt to construct a narrative around all the former Goldmanites in influential positions quickly becomes an absurd and pointless exercise, like trying to make a list of everything. What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.

The bank's unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pump-and-dump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere — high gas prices, rising consumer credit rates, half-eaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts. All that money that you're losing, it's going somewhere, and in both a literal and a figurative sense, Goldman Sachs is where it's going: The bank is a huge, highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals.

They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased. They've been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s — and now they're preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet.

If you want to understand how we got into this financial crisis, you have to first understand where all the money went — and in order to understand that, you need to understand what Goldman has already gotten away with. It is a history exactly five bubbles long — including last year's strange and seemingly inexplicable spike in the price of oil. There were a lot of losers in each of those bubbles, and in the bailout that followed. But Goldman wasn't one of them.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

will goldman sachs prove that greed is god?

Guardian | 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.

While, outside of America, Russian-born Rand is probably best known for being the unfunniest person western civilisation has seen since maybe Goebbels or Jack the Ripper (63 out of 100 colobus monkeys recently forced to read Atlas Shrugged in a laboratory setting died of boredom-induced aneurysms), in America Rand is upheld as an intellectual giant of limitless wisdom. Here in the States, her ideas are roundly worshipped even by people who've never read her books oreven heard of her. The rightwing "Tea Party" movement is just one example of an entire demographic that has been inspired to mass protest by Rand without even knowing it.

Last summer I wrote a brutally negative article about Goldman Sachs for Rolling Stone magazine (I called the bank a "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity") that unexpectedly sparked a heated national debate. On one side of the debate were people like me, who believed that Goldman is little better than a criminal enterprise that earns its billions by bilking the market, the government, and even its own clients in a bewildering variety of complex financial scams.

On the other side of the debate were the people who argued Goldman wasn't guilty of anything except being "too smart" and really, really good at making money. This side of the argument was based almost entirely on the Randian belief system, under which the leaders of Goldman Sachs appear not as the cheap swindlers they look like to me, but idealised heroes, the saviours of society.

In the Randian ethos, called objectivism, the only real morality is self-interest, and society is divided into groups who are efficiently self-interested (ie, the rich) and the "parasites" and "moochers" who wish to take their earnings through taxes, which are an unjust use of force in Randian politics. Rand believed government had virtually no natural role in society. She conceded that police were necessary, but was such a fervent believer in laissez-faire capitalism she refused to accept any need for economic regulation – which is a fancy way of saying we only need law enforcement for unsophisticated criminals.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

rule of law: the secret recordings of carmen segarra



thisamericanlife |  An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she got a tiny recorder and started secretly taping. ProPublica's print version.

Ira introduces Carmen Segarra, a bank examiner for the Federal Reserve in New York who, in 2012, started secretly recording as she and her colleagues went about regulating one of the most powerful financial institutions in the country. This was during a time when the New York Fed was trying to become a stronger regulator, so that it wouldn't fail to miss another financial crisis like it did with the meltdown in 2008. As part of that effort to reform, the Fed had commissioned a highly confidential report, written by Columbia professor David Beim, that identified why the regulator failed in the years leading up to the crisis. Beim laid out specific recommendations for how the Fed could fix its problems. Carmen's recordings allow us to see if the Fed successfully heeded those recommendations more than two years later. What we hear is not reassuring. Business

ProPublica's Jake Bernstein tells the story of Carmen's first months at the New York Fed, and how she came to start recording. And we hear the story of how the Fed examiners respond to an unusual, questionable deal that Goldman Sachs did — a deal that the top Fed guy stationed inside Goldman calls "legal but shady."Business

We hear what the New York Fed and Goldman Sachs say about all this. We hear a New York Fed supervisor tell Carmen Segarra how an examiner should talk and act to be successful at the Fed. And we hear what happens to Carmen when she does exactly what David Beim's confidential report told the Fed it needed to encourage its examiners to do in order to spot the next financial crisis.

In the course of reporting our story with ProPublica, we sent lots of questions to the New York Fed and Goldman Sachs. We wanted to share those with you, along with the institutions' responses.

Our questions to the New York Fed are here.

The New York Fed responded with a statement and later this email.

Our questions to Goldman Sachs are here.

Goldman Sachs' response is here.

And one last document that plays an important role in our story: the confidential report Columbia professor David Beim wrote for the New York Fed in 2009, as it was trying to figure out why it failed to anticipate the financial crisis and what it should do to make sure it wouldn't fail to catch the next one. 

Here is a transcript of the full episode.Business

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

small chinese firm gives goldman sachs the finger

Reuters | A small Chinese power generator on Tuesday rejected demands from a Goldman Sachs unit to pay for nearly $80 million lost on two oil hedging contracts, part of a long-running dispute over how China deals with derivatives losses.

Goldman Sachs (GS.N) was one of the foreign banks, along with Citigroup (C.N), Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley (MS.N), blamed by the state assets watchdog for providing "extremely complicated" and difficult to understand derivatives products.

Shenzhen Nanshan Power (000037.SZ) (200037.SZ) said in a statement that it received several notices from J. Aron & Company, a trading subsidiary of Goldman Sachs (GS.N), for at least $79.96 million as compensation for terminating oil option contracts.

"We will not accept the demand by J. Aron for all the losses and related interests," said Nanshan, in line with the stance it took last December.

"We will try our best to negotiate with J. Aron and resolve the dispute peacefully...but the possibility of using a lawsuit can not be ruled out when talks fail," it added.

"J. Aron told us in one notice that if we do not pay the money, they will reserve the right to launch a lawsuit and will not send us any further notice."

The State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said in September that it would back state-owned companies in any legal action against the foreign banks that sold them oil derivatives, which resulted in losses when oil prices dived late last year.

A Beijing-based Goldman Sachs corporate communication official declined to comment.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

arming goldman with pistols against the public

Bloomberg | “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.

Pistol Ready

Common sense tells you a handgun is probably not even all that useful. Suppose an intruder sneaks past the doorman or jumps the security fence at night. By the time you pull the pistol out of your wife’s jewelry safe, find the ammunition, and load your weapon, Fifi the Pomeranian has already been taken hostage and the gun won’t do you any good. As for carrying a loaded pistol when you venture outside, dream on. Concealed gun permits are almost impossible for ordinary citizens to obtain in New York or nearby states.

In other words, a little humility and contrition are probably the better route.

Monday, July 05, 2010

how goldman sachs gambled on starvation

Independent | By now, you probably think your opinion of Goldman Sachs and its swarm of Wall Street allies has rock-bottomed at raw loathing. You're wrong. There's more. It turns out that the most destructive of all their recent acts has barely been discussed at all. Here's the rest. This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world.

It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn't afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it "a silent mass murder", entirely due to "man-made actions."

Earlier this year I was in Ethiopia, one of the worst-hit countries, and people there remember the food crisis as if they had been struck by a tsunami. "My children stopped growing," a woman my age called Abiba Getaneh, told me. "I felt like battery acid had been poured into my stomach as I starved. I took my two daughters out of school and got into debt. If it had gone on much longer, I think my baby would have died."

Most of the explanations we were given at the time have turned out to be false. It didn't happen because supply fell: the International Grain Council says global production of wheat actually increased during that period, for example. It isn't because demand grew either: as Professor Jayati Ghosh of the Centre for Economic Studies in New Delhi has shown, demand actually fell by 3 per cent. Other factors – like the rise of biofuels, and the spike in the oil price – made a contribution, but they aren't enough on their own to explain such a violent shift.

To understand the biggest cause, you have to plough through some concepts that will make your head ache – but not half as much as they made the poor world's stomachs ache.

For over a century, farmers in wealthy countries have been able to engage in a process where they protect themselves against risk. Farmer Giles can agree in January to sell his crop to a trader in August at a fixed price. If he has a great summer, he'll lose some cash, but if there's a lousy summer or the global price collapses, he'll do well from the deal. When this process was tightly regulated and only companies with a direct interest in the field could get involved, it worked.

Then, through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into "derivatives" that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in "food speculation" was born.

So Farmer Giles still agrees to sell his crop in advance to a trader for £10,000. But now, that contract can be sold on to speculators, who treat the contract itself as an object of potential wealth. Goldman Sachs can buy it and sell it on for £20,000 to Deutsche Bank, who sell it on for £30,000 to Merrill Lynch – and on and on until it seems to bear almost no relationship to Farmer Giles's crop at all.

If this seems mystifying, it is. John Lanchester, in his superb guide to the world of finance, Whoops! Why Everybody Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay, explains: "Finance, like other forms of human behaviour, underwent a change in the 20th century, a shift equivalent to the emergence of modernism in the arts – a break with common sense, a turn towards self-referentiality and abstraction and notions that couldn't be explained in workaday English." Poetry found its break with realism when T S Eliot wrote "The Wasteland". Finance found its Wasteland moment in the 1970s, when it began to be dominated by complex financial instruments that even the people selling them didn't fully understand.

So what has this got to do with the bread on Abiba's plate? Until deregulation, the price for food was set by the forces of supply and demand for food itself. (This was already deeply imperfect: it left a billion people hungry.) But after deregulation, it was no longer just a market in food. It became, at the same time, a market in food contracts based on theoretical future crops – and the speculators drove the price through the roof.

Here's how it happened. In 2006, financial speculators like Goldmans pulled out of the collapsing US real estate market. They reckoned food prices would stay steady or rise while the rest of the economy tanked, so they switched their funds there. Suddenly, the world's frightened investors stampeded on to this ground.

So while the supply and demand of food stayed pretty much the same, the supply and demand for derivatives based on food massively rose – which meant the all-rolled-into-one price shot up, and the starvation began. The bubble only burst in March 2008 when the situation got so bad in the US that the speculators had to slash their spending to cover their losses back home.

When I asked Merrill Lynch's spokesman to comment on the charge of causing mass hunger, he said: "Huh. I didn't know about that." He later emailed to say: "I am going to decline comment." Deutsche Bank also refused to comment. Goldman Sachs were more detailed, saying they sold their index in early 2007 and pointing out that "serious analyses ... have concluded index funds did not cause a bubble in commodity futures prices", offering as evidence a statement by the OECD.

How do we know this is wrong? As Professor Ghosh points out, some vital crops are not traded on the futures markets, including millet, cassava, and potatoes. Their price rose a little during this period – but only a fraction as much as the ones affected by speculation. Her research shows that speculation was "the main cause" of the rise.

So it has come to this. The world's wealthiest speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of hundreds of millions of innocent people. They gambled on increasing starvation, and won. Their Wasteland moment created a real wasteland. What does it say about our political and economic system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?

Monday, April 20, 2009

goldman sachs - plunge protection team conspiracy?


HuffPo | The Working Group on Financial Markets, known colloquially as the Plunge Protection Team (PPT), was created in 1988 by Ronald Reagan, in response to the Black Monday stock market crash in 1987. Their operations have always been shrouded in secrecy, with a Washington Post article from 1997 writing that the group aims to prevent the "smoothly running global financial machine" from locking up.

Conspiracy theorists have long claimed that the PPT manipulates U.S. stock markets by using government funds to buy stocks in the event of market dislocation, but skeptics argue that such an operation would be unworkable.

Durden, author of the ZeroHedge blog, thinks he found some evidence of the PPT's interference with the market. He cites an unusual piece of data on program trading, a part of the stock market that is controlled by mysterious computer programs that use mathematical formulas to buy and sell stocks.

According to the New York Stock Exchange, last week's volume of program trading was 8% higher than the 52 week average. It's strange that program trading volume would be increasing so sharply when overall market volume is declining, says Durden. It's even stranger to note that principal trading, which occurs when a brokerage buys or sells stocks for its own account, is running 21% above 52 week average. New York Stock Exchange weekly volume, on the other hand, is running about 9% below 52 week average.

"A very interesting data point, also provided by the NYSE, implicates none other than administration darling Goldman Sachs in yet another potentially troubling development," writes Durden. "Key to note here is that Goldman's program trading principal to agency+customer facilitation ratio is a staggering 5x, which is multiples higher than both the second most active program trader and the average ratio of the NYSE, both at or below 1x."

The implication is that Goldman Sachs trades much more often for its own (principal) benefit. "In this light, the program trading spike over the past week could be perceived as much more sinister," he says. "For conspiracy lovers, long searching for any circumstantial evidence to catch the mysterious "plunge protection team" in action, you should look no further than this."

fist tap - unauthorized Goldman Sachs 666 blog.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

goldman sachs - the heart of darkness?

LATimes | Matt Taibbi, the Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor who in March wrote a brilliant and searing piece on the collapse of insurance giant AIG ("The Big Takeover'), now turns his attention to Goldman Sachs Group.

If you've read or heard Taibbi before, you know he's not writing a profile that is likely to be excerpted in the next Goldman annual report to shareholders.

Here's how his story in the latest issue of RS begins:

"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

The theme of Taibbi's takeout on Goldman is that the firm has, by design, been at the center of the biggest investment bubbles since the Depression. He includes the tech-stock bubble of the late-1990s, the housing bubble of this decade, and the oil bubble of the first half of 2008.

He writes:

"The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased."

Of course, he's describing the modus operandi of Wall Street in general. His assertion is that no one does it better than Goldman, and that no firm has enjoyed the political clout of Goldman, given how many of its alumni have landed in positions of power in government -- from Robert Rubin, who was Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary, to Henry M. Paulson, who held the same post under George W. Bush, to William Dudley, now president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

shadowbanking regulatory complications...,

NYTimes | Goldman limits Facebook investment to foreign clients. In a statement on Monday, the firm said: “In light of this intense media coverage, Goldman Sachs has decided to proceed only with the offer to investors outside the U.S. Goldman Sachs concluded that the level of media attention might not be consistent with the proper completion of a U.S. private placement under U.S. law.”

A report by The New York Times, published late on Jan. 2, that Goldman had invested $450 million in Facebook and would create a special-purpose investment vehicle for clients, citing people involved in the deal, appeared to prompt the regulatory scrutiny. “The transaction generated intense media attention following the publication of an article on the evening of January 2, 2011, shortly after the launch of the transaction,” the firm said in its statement Monday.

Goldman had not been planning to initiate the offering that night, but it sped up the process after The Times called the firm seeking comment, according to an executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.

That night, a Goldman spokesman declined to comment. Late that night, before the report was published, executives in Goldman’s private wealth-management unit e-mailed their clients about the offering, people who received the e-mail said.

Goldman added in its statement on Monday that the decision was made on its own and “was not required or requested by any other party.”

Foreign investors will still be able to participate in the Goldman offering because they are not subject to the S.E.C. rules on solicitation in private offerings. However, all partners of Goldman, whether based in the United States or abroad, will not be allowed to invest, according to people briefed on the matter.

It is unclear how much money Goldman will raise for Facebook. In a private memorandum to clients when it made the offering, it said it planned to raise as much as $1.5 billion. The minimum investment is $2 million. The overall deal pegged Facebook’s value at $50 billion.

While the offering was oversubscribed — perhaps by as much as three times — with American clients now ineligible to participate, it is not clear whether Goldman or Facebook will lower the size of the offering. A majority of Goldman’s high-net-worth clients are based in the United States, and these investors may be upset over being denied a potentially lucrative opportunity afforded to investors in Europe and Asia.

For Goldman executives who manage money for wealthy families, so-called special investments have long been a major selling point in luring clients to the firm. The argument to prospective clients is that by placing their money with Goldman, they have access to the same investment opportunities as the firm, long considered one of the world’s smartest investors. Fist tap Arnach.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

grabbing goldman's golden goose?

Bloomberg | Never let it be said that the Justice Department can’t move quickly when it gets a hot tip about an alleged crime at a Wall Street bank. It does help, though, if the party doing the complaining is the bank itself, and not merely an aggrieved customer.

Another plus is if the bank tells the feds the security of the U.S. financial markets is at stake. This brings us to the strange tale of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Sergey Aleynikov.

Aleynikov, 39, is the former Goldman computer programmer who was arrested on theft charges July 3 as he stepped off a flight at Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. That was two days after Goldman told the government he had stolen its secret, rapid-fire, stock- and commodities-trading software in early June during his last week as a Goldman employee. Prosecutors say Aleynikov uploaded the program code to an unidentified Web site server in Germany.

It wasn’t just Goldman that faced imminent harm if Aleynikov were to be released, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti told a federal magistrate judge at his July 4 bail hearing in New York. The 34-year-old prosecutor also dropped this bombshell: “The bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.”

How could somebody do this? The precise answer isn’t obvious -- we’re talking about a black-box trading system here. And Facciponti didn’t elaborate. You don’t need a Goldman Sachs doomsday machine to manipulate markets, of course. A false rumor expertly planted using an ordinary telephone often will do just fine. In any event, the judge rejected Facciponti’s argument that Aleynikov posed a danger to the community, and ruled he could go free on $750,000 bail. He was released July 6.

Market Manipulation

All this leaves us to wonder: Did Goldman really tell the government its high-speed, high-volume, algorithmic-trading program can be used to manipulate markets in unfair ways, as Facciponti said? And shouldn’t Goldman’s bosses be worried this revelation may cause lots of people to start hypothesizing aloud about whether Goldman itself might misuse this program?

Here’s some of what we do know. Aleynikov, a citizen of the U.S. and Russia, left his $400,000-a-year salary at Goldman for a chance to triple his pay at a start-up firm in Chicago co- founded by Misha Malyshev, a former Citadel Investment Group LLC trader. Malyshev, who oversaw high-frequency trading at Citadel, said his firm, Teza Technologies LLC, first learned about the alleged theft July 5 and suspended Aleynikov without pay.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

government captive to the vampire squid


forbiddenknowledgetv |  In this interview on C-SPAN, Glenn Greenwald cites a Sammy Johnson Op-Ed in the Washington Post that basically says that the New York investment bank, Goldman Sachs, "...seems to have a virtual lock on the Treasury Department. Positions: The Clinton Administration's Secretary of the Treasury was a former Goldman CEO, Robert Rubin and of course, of course, under President Bush, the CEO who designed the bail-out packages was the former Goldman-Sachs Ceo, Hank Paulson. The current Secretary, Tim Geithner is a protege of Robert Rubin - his Chief-of-Staff is a Lobbyist with Goldman-Sachs - and that's just one firm.

"But you look across the government, you see the financial industry, through its enormous financial resources, pouring money into the campaign coffers of the members of Congress, controlling members of the Executive Branch - and so each and every policy that the Executive Branch, under both President Bush and Obama have promulgated and advocated, as a response to the [World Financial] Crisis - has as the primary beneficiaries, the financial elites who have funded them and who control them and to whom they are inextricably linked - and it's a form of extreme corruption, in general - and I think that in a case where there's a real crisis, it's a particular problem.

"Another thing that I would underscore is that, if you go look back at how the [World Financial] Crisis began, in the 1990s, the financial industry was advocating, vigorously that many of the limitations on what they were able to do, many of which had been in place since the Great Depression - to prevent another Great Depression - were abolished one-by-one - and why? On a bi-partisan basis, because they fund both political parties and they were able to write the laws and those regulations were abolished, at their behest; that's what CAUSED the Financial Crisis - and that same corrupt system is still fueling what is intended as the solution."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

the people vs. goldman sachs

Rollingstone | They weren't murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn't leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

This article appears in the May 26, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive May 13.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Han Elite Rule Epitomizes The Full Neoliberal And Surveillance Capitalist Agenda


strategic-culture |  For decades, we were led to believe that the world-system put in place after WWII provided the U.S. with unrivalled structural power. Now, all that’s left is structural fragility, grotesque inequalities, unpayable Himalayas of debt, and a rolling crisis.

No one is fooled anymore by the Fed’s magic quantitative easing powers, or the acronym salad – TALF, ESF, SPV – built into the Fed/U.S. Treasury exclusive obsession with big banks, corporations and the Goddess of the Market, to the detriment of the average American.

It was only a few months ago that a serious discussion evolved around the $2.5 quadrillion derivatives market imploding and collapsing the global economy, based on the price of oil skyrocketing, in case the Strait of Hormuz – for whatever reason – was shut down.

Now it’s about Great Depression 2.0: the whole system crashing as a result of the shutdown of the global economy. The questions are absolutely legitimate: is the political and social cataclysm of the global economic crisis arguably a larger catastrophe than Covid-19 itself?  And will it provide an opportunity to end neoliberalism and usher in a more equitable system, or something even worse?
 
Wall Street, of course, lives in an alternative universe. In a nutshell, Wall Street turned the Fed into a hedge fund. The Fed is going to own at least two thirds of all U.S. Treasury bills in the market before the end of 2020.

The U.S. Treasury will be buying every security and loan in sight while the Fed will be the banker – financing the whole scheme.

So essentially this is a Fed/Treasury merger. A behemoth dispensing loads of helicopter money.
And the winner is BlackRock—the biggest money manager on the planet, with tentacles everywhere, managing the assets of over 170 pension funds, banks, foundations, insurance companies, in fact a great deal of the money in private equity and hedge funds. BlackRock — promising to be fully  “transparent” — will buy these securities and manage those dodgy SPVs on behalf of the Treasury.

BlackRock, founded in 1988 by Larry Fink, may not be as big as Vanguard, but it’s the top investor in Goldman Sachs, along with Vanguard and State Street, and with $6.5 trillion in assets, bigger than Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank combined.

Now, BlackRock is the new operating system (OS) of the Fed and the Treasury. The world’s biggest shadow bank – and no, it’s not Chinese.

Compared to this high-stakes game, mini-scandals such as the one around Georgia Senator Kelly Loffler are peanuts. Loffler allegedly profited from inside information on Covid-19 by the CDC to make a stock market killing. Loffler is married to Jeffrey Sprecher – who happens to be the chairman of the NYSE, installed by Goldman Sachs.

While corporate media followed this story like headless chickens, post-Covid-19 plans, in Pentagon parlance, “move forward” by stealth.

The price? A meager $1,200 check per person for a month. Anyone knows that, based on median salary income, a typical American family would need $12,000 to survive for two months. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in an act of supreme effrontry, allows them a mere 10 percent of that. So American taxpayers will be left with a tsunami of debt while selected Wall Street players grab the whole loot, part of an unparalleled transfer of wealth upwards, complete with bankruptcies en masse of small and medium businesses.

Fink’s letter to his shareholders almost gives the game away: “I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

And right on cue, he forecasted that, “in the near future – and sooner than most anticipate – there will be a significant reallocation of capital.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Bloomberg: Vampire Squids Are My Peeps - Defending The Squid My First Priority


independent |  Michael Bloomberg called Goldman Sachs bankers his ‘peeps’ and promised to defend them, leaked tape reveals. Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is being criticised for telling bankers he would have defended them as president in a leaked audio from a private Goldman Sachs event in 2016.

At the event, Mr Bloomberg first described the audience as his “peeps”, and said that had he run for president that year, his “first campaign platform” would have been “to defend the banks.”
But, he added, “you know how well that’s gonna go down in this country”.

Mr Bloomberg then defended the banks more seriously: “Somebody's gotta stand up and do what we need. A healthy banking system that's going to take risks because that's what creates the jobs for everybody. And nobody's willing to say that.”

The audio was uploaded to hosting platform Soundcloud and sent to CNN and several journalists. The sender used the email address and username “CancelGoldman”, and claimed to have worked at Goldman Sachs for 14 years.

The Bloomberg campaign has confirmed that the audio is real. In an email to CNN, spokesperson Stu Loeser said that much of what Mr Bloomberg said was in jest, and that his remarks were of an analytical standard almost unheard of in current politics.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Without Wikileaks How Would We Know the U.S. Koreas/China Policy?


downwithtyrrany |  [Update: It's been suggested in comments (initially here) that Clinton's "we" in her answer to Blankfein's question was a reference to China's policy, not our own. I'm doubtful that's true, but it's an interpretation worth considering. Even so, the U.S. and Chinese policies toward the two Koreas are certainly aligned, and, as Clinton says, "for the obvious economic and political reasons." (That argument was also expressed in comments here.)  I therefore think the thrust of the piece below is valid under either interpretation of Clinton's use of "we." –GP]

"We don't want a unified Korean peninsula ... We [also] don't want the North Koreans to cause more trouble than the system can absorb."
—Hillary Clinton, 2013, speech to Goldman Sachs

Our policy toward North Korea is not what most people think it is. We don't want the North Koreans to go away. In fact, we like them doing what they're doing; we just want less of it than they've been doing lately. If this sounds confusing, it's because this policy is unlike what the public has been led to assume. Thanks to something uncovered by WikiLeaks, the American public has a chance to be unconfused about what's really going on with respect to our policies in Korea.

This piece isn't intended to criticize that policy; it may be an excellent one. I just want to help us understand it better. 

Our source for the U.S. government's actual Korean policy — going back decades really — is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She resigned that position in February 2013, and on June 4, 2013 she gave a speech at Goldman Sachs with Lloyd Blankfein present (perhaps on stage with her) in which she discussed in what sounds like a very frank manner, among many other things, the U.S. policy toward the two Korea and the relationship of that policy to China.

That speech and two others were sent by Tony Carrk of the Clinton campaign to a number of others in the campaign, including John Podesta. WikiLeaks subsequently released that email as part of its release of other Podesta emails (source email with attachments here). In that speech, Clinton spoke confidentially and, I believe, honestly. What she said in that speech, I take her as meaning truthfully. There's certainly no reason for her to lie to her peers, and in some cases her betters, at Goldman Sachs. The entire speech reads like elites talking with elites in a space reserved just for them.

Friday, April 15, 2016

the goldman-sachs settlement is an abomination and an insult to all americans...,


libertyblitzkrieg |  The increased use of eminent domain to transfer property to powerful political interests, the ramifications of the wars on terrorism and drugs, and the violation of the property rights of bondholders in the auto-bailout case have weakened the tradition of strong adherence to the rule of law in United States. We believe these factors have contributed to the sharp decline in the rating for the legal-system area.

To a large degree, the United States has experienced a significant move away from rule of law and toward a highly regulated, politicized, and heavily policed state.


The American public should be out in the streets by the hundreds of thousands demanding the resignation of President Barack Obama in response to the total sham settlement just announced by the U.S. government with Goldman Sachs. This farce should be seen for what it really is; a gigantic establishment middle finger waving contemptuously in the face of the reliably neutered and long-suffering American public.

A criminal financial organization that engaged in billions upon billions in fraud against the “muppet” public is once again getting off with barely a slap on the wrist and nobody’s going to do a thing about it. As I’ve said for years and years, until the public says enough is enough nothing is going to change. I suppose that’s simply not going to happen until the next economic downturn, which could emerge in earnest any day now.

David Dayan knows as much about this issue as anyone, and he just penned a scathing assessment of this perversion of justice at the New Republic. Here are a few excerpts from his piece, Why the Goldman Sachs Settlement Is a $5 Billion Sham: