Is grousing about Goldman reaching critical mass?
Commentary: Questions are reaching the point where something might happen
By Peter Brimelow, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- I'm amazed: Grousing about Goldman Sachs, and fury at the financial sector, is actually reaching the point where something might happen -- maybe even answers to questions we've been asking for a while.
As Jim Bianco of Bianco Research just noted in his News Clips/Daily Commentary service: "The amount of bad news that [Goldman Sachs Group /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 160.50, -0.08, -0.05%) ] is generating with its record earnings is incredible. We cannot remember a company that has received so much scorn for making money."
Bianco linked to critical stories in the Economist and the New York Times, and a scathing op-ed column ("The Joy of Sachs") by Paul Krugman.
And that's only the beginning. Last week, Arianna Huffington in her liberal Huffington Post Webzine actually issued bipartisan praise of two Wall Street Journal pieces critical of Goldman and the bailout. (Her article is here; the WSJ pieces here and here.)
It's many years since Arianna and I were on the same politically incorrect side of one of William F. Buckley's Firing Line debates. She has since adroitly changed sides, and if she now thinks it's time to attack Goldman Sachs -- a major Democratic donor -- the firm is in trouble.
The most spectacular attack on Goldman Sachs: Matthew Taibbi's Rolling Stone article "The Great American Bubble Machine," posted in Rolling Stone magazine July 13
This is a follow-up to Taibbi's earlier attack on the bailout, which he portrayed all too convincingly as a sort of Wall Street coup d'état. ( See March 30 column.)
Taibbi describes the extraordinary personnel interlock between Goldman Sachs and Washington, apparently regardless of the party in power. He thinks that a key development was the emergence of Robert Rubin, who became Goldman's co-chairman and then Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary.
Taibbi writes: "If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain. ... 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."
Of the bailout, he writes: "The numbers show that Goldman essentially borrowed a $5 billion salary payout for its executives in the middle of the global economic crisis it helped cause, using half-baked accounting to reel in investors, just months after receiving billions in a taxpayer bailout."
Sounds wild, but Taibbi makes a case. As a Rolling Stone reader says in the article's comment thread: "The last time I read anything this scary was the New Yorker article about Burmese pythons taking over Florida."
I've been reporting for years that key investment letters had come to the conclusion that the financial markets have been manipulated. ( See Sept. 9, 2005, column.) Now this suspicion is all over the mainstream media. Hmmm.
The scale that would be involved is so spectacular that it dwarfs another issue the letters have been asking about for years: whether the gold price has been systematically suppressed. ( See April 20 column.) Manipulating gold is an afterthought compared to what was allegedly going on.
I continue to think that a key part of this story is the mysterious 1998 Rubin-orchestrated rescue of Long Term Capital. ( See Sept. 29, 2008, column.)
And I'm increasingly confident all this will end with the appointment of another Pujo Committee, paralleling the one which investigated the so-called "Money Trust" in the wake of the Panic of 1907.
The consequences will be monumental.