Catch Andrew Ross Sorkin's column about Goldman Sachs this morning? Charlie Gasparino did and he didn't like it. Noting Goldman Sachs' desire not to make a big deal about the money it made correctly predicting the housing market crash, perhaps in an attempt not to attract anymore attention from Senator Carl “Goldman Sachs is a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest, and wrongdoing" Levin, Sorkin encouraged the Masters of the Universe to stop denying their success. Rather, ARS would like to see them "take a bow," as their housing call is something they should be proud of and which shareholders and taxpayers alike should be happy about, since it meant the latter didn't have to bail the firm out to the extent it did Citi and AIG. And that pissed Gasparino off something fierce.
Normally he wouldn't say anything ("'I'm not and never have been in the Goldman is the root-of-all-evil-camp," CG prefaces) but after last month's antics wherein the firm dared to deny his report Lloyd Blankfein's friends claim he's thinking of retiring, Chaz can no longer bite his tongue. Not to get too off-topic, but it still baffles CG as to how GS spokesman Lucas vP "can deny someone's impression from a private conversation." Sorry, he just had to get that out there. But back to the suggestion that Goldman should be taking any bows-- bull shit, Gasparino says. Bull, shit.
"The last thing Goldman should be doing right now is taking a bow and telling the world it's a great firm, because when it comes down to it, Goldman isn't really a great firm.
"What is it then," CG asks fuming. Not being here to simply raise questions without providing answers, Gasparino goes on, attributing a well-known saying to a guy he gets drunk with.
"Well, in the words of a drinking buddy who is a frequent consumer of financial news, 'Goldman is like the tallest midget in the room.'"
How did Goldman become the tallest among short people?
Standing the tallest among these little men is Goldman, the firm most adept at exploiting the corrupt system that puts the government in bed with the big banks. Just today, Goldman announced that it earned $1.64 billion in the first quarter of 2011 even after repaying Warren Buffett the $5 billion he lent them in 2008 when the firm was teetering with the rest of Wall Street. Seems like a pretty amazing feat until you consider how Goldman earned all that cash. Low interest rates from the Fed over the past two-plus years means Goldman can basically borrow at next to nothing to place its market bets.
Those bets, it turns out, really aren't bets at all. Firms like Goldman began buying depressed mortgage bonds in 2009 because they knew prices would rise. How did they know something like that? The Fed instituted a program to buy these bonds in the open market as a way to support the housing market. Like most things tried by the Obama administration to jump-start the economy, the plan didn't work for Main Street. But not long after the buy-back program commenced, Wall Street -- and Goldman in particular -- began announcing record profits and bonuses to its bankers and traders. All of which transpired as Blankfein and his team tried to convince the world that Goldman really didn't need all that bailout money in late 2008 and that they accepted the $10 billion in cash from then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson because they were forced to do so by a government more worried about the health of entire financial system than the financial condition of Goldman Sachs. Sounds like a very modest gesture until you calculate how the taxpayer bailout of the giant insurer AIG was in actuality a back-door bailout of Goldman Sachs.
It didn't have to come to this, Gasparino says, this being his exposing GS, and it wouldn't have, if everyone had just listened to Uncle Charles way back when.
As all this came to light back in late 2009, I wrote a column here on HuffPost saying Blankfein should just resign and save the world the trouble of holding him accountable for explaining why Goldman is such a large midget.