Matt Taibbi Hyperbole vs. Goldman Sachs Reality

Stone Street Advisors's picture

This is from Stone Street Advisors

Matt Taibbi's latest Rolling Stone article “The People vs. Goldman Sachs
claims, in clever and entertaining prose, that Goldman execs should go
to jail because they: 1) participated in “the most destructive crime
spree in our history…”, 2) sold crappy CDOs to unwary clients, and 3)
lied to congress.  I'd like to take this opportunity to add a little bit of what I like to call "reason" to the disucssion.

Lying to Congress 

start with simplest charge: Of course Goldman execs lied to Congress.
Everyone lies to Congress. Congress lies to Congress. Who outside of
Charlie Sheen wants to air dirty laundry in front of the whole world?
Yes I believe Goldman lied but not in they way RS thinks they did. Yes,
GS knew these bonds were crappy. Yes, they could have done a better job
disclosing all the risks. But as a former CDO manager and investor, I
know to review, research, and analyze CDOs independently of Rating


Selling Crappy CDOs to Unwary clients

sold CDOs they knew to be crappy to investors who took the opposite
side of the bet. Rating Agencies blessed these structures with AAAs. And
why is this a crime? Isn’t the motto on the street “Buyer Beware”? The
deals would perform or underperform based on the underlying bonds making
up the CDOs. Is anyone claiming GS hid which bonds were included? No.
Despite RS’s assertion GS knew these bonds were crap, this does not
constitute a crime or a failure of disclosure. These bonds were not sold
with a guarantee nor did Goldman ever say these bonds had no risk.
Heck, even the rating agencies blessed these structures by allowing 75%
of the cash flow to be rated AAA.

To further the car analogy
favored by RS, imagine you want to buy a fleet of 100 cars from GS
Rental Company. You also have at your disposal the repair (i.e
performance) history of each and every car from a variety of third party
vendors named Intex, Core Logic and Lewtan. However, you rely on
Moody's Auto Rating service to tell you that only 15 cars are likely to
go bad in the worst case scenario. You decided to buy 75 cars with GS
Rental company keeping the first two cars that go bad. Crime or
out-and-out stupidity?

Further, doesn’t anyone remember all the
other products investment banks have sold which blew up shortly after
origination? I do. Ask me someday about 125% Mortgages, Manufactured
Housing, Airplane Lease ABS, Tech Stocks, and so on. Investment banks
only sell what investors are willing to buy. Same with the CDOs. Good
salesmen know how to sell. GS has very, very good salesmen. Frankly, any
investor who trusts a Wall Street salesman and doesn’t ask the tough
questions should go work for a feel-good non-profit. Buying investment
products you don’t understand should be a crime.


Crime Spree and Key Stone Cop Regulators

cutting through RS’s massive hyperbole, I’m trying to figure out what
constituted the biggest crime spree of all time. Fraudulent subprime
mortgage backed securities issuers? CDO managers? Fraudulent mortgage
originators? Fraudulent borrowers? Fraudulent Rating Agencies?
Incompetent and toothless regulators? Lazy investors?

Every part
of the business created the housing meltdown. Borrowers who over levered
or lied to get access to housing  they couldn't afford. Real estate
agents over sold housing to drive up commissions. Home appraisers
inflated valuations at the behest of mortgage brokers. Mortgage
brokers, paid on commission, forged or instructed borrowers to lie to
get access to as much money as possible. Loan officers, paid based on
production, ignored problems in loan origination files. MBS issuers
ignored prudent underwriting standards and due diligence with no
regulatory oversight. Regulators didn't have the authority to stop this
train wreck nor the poltical backbone to do so. Rating Agencies relied
on outdated models and Wall Street pressure. Investors didn't do the
work necessary to understand the risks.

This "crime spree" wasn't a drive by a Moriarty-esque criminal mastermind but a Confederacy of Dunces.

says the "banks were closely monitored by a host of federal regulators,
including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the FDIC, and
the Office of Thrift Supervision." I call bullshit. The OTS actively
sought more regulatees by stating to them "we are the kinder gentler
regulator". The biggest blow-ups were OTS governed (Washington Mutual,
Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Indy Mac, and Countrywide). The OCC
wasn't much better and the FDIC was busy laying off personnel because
the world was going well. The Fed's chief drug lord (Greenspan) was
pushing housing as the great engine of the US economy.



sick of Rolling Stone's hyperbole. If GS had a $6B bet on the housing
market then they were a little more than 1/2 a percent of the total
investors in the market. They were small potatoes, and because they were
small they survived the meltdown like cockroaches in a nuclear winter.

Naked Bond Bear

Stone Street Advisors

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ninja-ish's picture

goodness. what kind of crap is this article?

Reptil's picture

Unfuckingbelievable. the greatest nation is teetering on the brink of financial collapse and descent into a totalitarian state structure, and there comes an appraisal to "lie to Congress", because "everybody does it". You really don't see it, don't you? No matter, we do....

Sticks's picture

The crux of Stone Streets' argument is that GS broke no laws in peddling its structured mortgage products to several and sundry buyers, and  it was gross hyperbole for Tiabbi to claim otherwise.  According the SS, the applicable standard is caveat emptor.  The Levin report clearly provides otherwise, and certainly raises colorable securities laws violations, based on GS' role or roles in peddling the rank CDOs.  GS claims it acted solely and only as a market maker, and hence was subject to the lowest disclosure requirements. However, the Levin report adduces evidence, straight from GS docs, that demonstrate that GS was a broker-dealer acting as a placement agent and/or underwriter, which trigger far higher disclosure obligations, including suitability and material adverse information disclosure. And of course, civil and criminal fraud laws are implicated as well as securities laws.  The gross hyperbole charge is  more apt for GS, in its insistence it was always a market maker -- no more no less.

That GS, after influencing the policymakers' bailout of AIG, which saved it billions, and getting access to the Fed Discount window, then strenously prevented any meaningful reform of Wall Street practices, merits all the hyperbole Tiabbi and the other commenters here can muster.  If GS and its ilk are not curbbed, then we're done. 

DogSlime's picture

Terrible article.

It reads like a giant trolling attempt.

AsIseeIt's picture

Let me make this perfectly clear.  The majority of the people on ZH are quite capable of citing verse when it comes to GS's bullshit, and no amount of "prove it", "please show specific facts, etc" crap from your college Logics class is going to intimidate anyone here.


We know what you did and are continuing to do, and you will be held responsible at the appropriate time.'s picture

What a slime bag this Stone Street is! Their blog is beyond lame, and they are trolling their own appologist post here like the little shitbag trolls they are. Go fuck yourself, and analyze that!

bill40's picture

Who the fuck is this bank shill. I'm not a murderer if you compare me to Hitler he killed six million. And the one I killed is only a tiny % of the human race.


Some defence, epic fail bank bitch.

michigan independant's picture

Lies to Congress, who is Congress? I heard they stopped circa 1972 as a species.

RichardENixon's picture

The Rolling Stone article's primary argument was that Goldman lied to Congress and that this should be their undoing. The author of this ZH post admits Goldman did in fact lie to Congress,but excuses it by saying that everyone does it.

Everyone may do it, but if Congress catches them and decides to do something about it they are in big trouble. Just ask Roger Clemens.

Those who stopped reading the Stone Street post after the statement about lying to Congress were smart, because the rest of the post is irrelevant.

keating's picture

In a perfect world, Ms. Spitzer would have said. let him stay on as Governor. I will have the choke chain on him so tight  and keep him in a cage over the weekends. That way, when he gets out to work on weekdays, he will be ready to find any non-competitive wall street guys who are in even the smallest way, IRS style, cheating a dime, and he will make those guys do perp walks and the weekend on Rikers and destroy them, every single one. And the firms on Wall Street will hate him and wish him death, and the customers will at least have one cop on the beat who does not take bribes. And in return, I will have the pleasure of watching my husband destroy the criminal wall streeters, watch them running before him, and hear the lamentations of their women.


Really, he could have done all of that as governor and saved us all a lot of grief.

AlaricBalth's picture

Normative relativism is alive and well on Wall Street. There are no ethical compasses in which to guide the culture of the greed. The "Stone Street Apologists" are attempting to offer a rationale for Goldman's amoral and criminal behavior.  Goldman, by saying "our trading and underwriting practices were expressed in a manner consistent with general market practices" is a perfect example of relativism running rampant. And this will continue to lead to a greater polarization, and ultimately the destruction of our current economic system.



TheAkashicRecord's picture

Goldman = "our trading and underwriting practices were expressed in a manner consistent with general market practices"

 "general market practices" are contigent upon the continuation of institutionalized government supported fraud, and spreading risk to parties who did not willingly take on any.  Then apply a little transitive property to the situation and re-configure the sentence by plugging in C for B.

"our trading and underwriting practices were expressed in a manner consistent with institutionalized government supported fraud and spreading risk to parties who did not willingly take on any."



Well there we go!

colonial's picture

Surprised by some of these comments...

My guess is that many of you have never worked for a brokerage house.  For those of us who have written a few tickets in our day, we learned long ago the conflicts that operate within ALL major brokerage houses. 

This guy is right to frame the issue with some perspective.  His facts may or may not be 100% accurate, but if you think you get accuracy from that Senate report, or from Rolling Stone you're also nuts. 

These are complex issues and they are still at play.  There is an enormous amount of blame with respect to the cause of the credit crisis.  Just today the Senate banking committee held a hearing on securitization and just by listening to the questions it was apparent some of these Senators still don't understand this issue. 


Troy Ounce's picture

Hey, this is America where the winner takes it all and the rest are losers.

Everybody lies, who cares!! We too, at Stone Street: we lie though our teeth. Just look at our web site: 100% lies. Our answers: only garbage. If this upsets you, go to our competition which lies even more.

Doesn't matter as long as we win and you are the loser.Moooneeeyyyy!




Hugh_Jorgan's picture

Just like most stories, this has two sides and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Is Taibbi a blowhard, and hyperbolist, a mediocre writer obsessed with grabbing attention by saying the most outrageous things he can? Does he carry just the right amount of ego (and lack of real moral fiber) to sell himself as a great writer to the dimwits at the not-so hibrow Rolling Stone magazine? Yes & Yes.

Is Goldman Sachs corrupt; in bed with the Fed, the current administration and anyone else that they can legally or illegally improve their position by their associations? Are they ready and willing to shoot their own mother to make a tidy profit? Yes & Yes.

Use your brain and draw your own conclusions. In this case I don't mind Taibbi's self-serving, venom so much because it may be able to guilt the DOJ into action against a group of crony thugs giving Capitalism a bad name. But spreading exaggerations and falshoods to further one's career doesn't make the world a better place either.

Dburn's picture

I was struck by the fact that the guy who is telling us Taibbi is wrong is not any sort of legal expert, but a buy-here-pay-here-used car-salesman type most likely  wearing leisure suits, white shoes, white belt, white shirt, gold neck chains and drives a white Cadillac complete with white poodle and greased back hair who furiously masturbates every time he sells a "used car" otherwise known as a CDO to one of his unsuspecting customers.

I suppose that Obama's failure to enforce the law on these assholes would lead this particular asshole,to slime the site because it's not that Goldman didn't knowingly screw everyone it came into contact with, it's because they haven't been jailed yet.

Would that bullshit post have here, if the rule of law applied to Wall Street? I doubt it.

MrBoompi's picture

After reading this lame apologist drivel it makes me think Goldman is most likely guilty of even worse crimes.

agrotera's picture

If a person ever got far enough in the Presidential primaries to be known, then stood up and actually said that their platform was to end and prosecute government sanctioned fraud and that they were taking Elliott Spitzer as a running mate if nominated, they would win...but we would all need to hope they had effective security!!!!!

Wouldn't that be a great day!!!

MrBoompi's picture

I'd be afraid for his/her life.

nick howdy's picture

Ok...So what your saying is not to trust anyone on Wall Street..."Buyer Beware"...

Fine, and that's why I'm buying silver and getting exactly what I want..
Go play with your paper..Paperboy.. 

fonestar's picture

What a bunch of self-justifying crap.  When guys like the author are being lynched I guess we can use the same logic on them.

TheAkashicRecord's picture

//Let’s start with simplest charge: Of course Goldman execs lied to Congress. Everyone lies to Congress.//

You start your blog post by saying they should be excused for perjury, by saying that everyone perjures?  I would like to see this be used as a legal defense by Goldman Sachs as they try and escape what is BLATANTLY perjury.  Or perhaps they will just verbally flap about like a fish on a dock like they have done already?  It really shows how will these fellows were coached beforehand, so bravo to that, but those bastards won't be getting out of this pinch so easily.  

You respond to quite a few people on this board by asking them for some evidence as to their accusations, yet you yourself are under the deluded belief that perjury can be excused because everyone perjures.  You start your post with this?  Great way to build credibility there chap!  Hard to take you seriously from an ethical standpoint, a moral standpoint, or a legal standpoint.

Maybe in 2012, we will have a candidate proposing to destroy ecnomic parasites.  Wishful thinking ...

Arrowflinger's picture

The SIGTARP report references the highly invested status of stable value funds within 401k's in wrapped MBS as being the reason that AIG was bailed out. Had these MBS lost the CDS wrappings, the market would quickly reveal their true value as 5 to 30 cents on the dollar.

Then FASB changed accounting rules to allow these worthless "assets" to continue to be marked at stated value rather than the slashed market values.

What this means is that your typical 401k stable value fund, in which many fled to protect their savings from the market casino, are instead now in Ponzi status, with the real, gutted values being hidden as long as INflows exceed redemptions.

Hidden theft is THEFT, the power of the thief to hide it nothwithstanding.

lieutenantjohnchard's picture

if i were a potential customer of stone street and saw the responses that "The Analyst" makes i would head for the tall grass to remove myself as far as possible from such an arrogant, elitist punk of scum. it's almost as if he has a death wish to destroy his reputation and that of the firm.

and yes mr stone street analyst i know there's more than one person currently working at your firm.

Vendetta's picture

tried to read this.  Reminded me of the NPR 'debate' this past week regarding insider trading makes markets 'efficient' and is victimless.

slewie the pi-rat's picture

"But as a former CDO manager and investor, I know to review, research, and analyze CDOs independently of Rating Agencies."

curiouser and funnier.  a freaking full-tilt defense of the giant evil squiddiddity on zH!

thanks, tyler!    lmfukingao


Urban Redneck's picture

Apparently, unbeknownst to the Senate Banking Committee or the staff of Rolling Stone, there were a number of BHC's that made a relative fortune trading in sub-prime mortgage pools in the decades prior to the credit crunch and before the advent of the CMO & CDS. 

Anyone who accepts the proposition that aggregation, reduces as opposed to guarantees, losses, doesn't understand the physical world in which we reside.

Going back to the car example with the 15% lemon rate.  If you buy one car your chances of getting a lemon are low.  They are exponentially lower than the chances of receiving at least one lemon when you buy 100 or 1000.  15% is a peak on a bell curve distribution. 

The primary and endlessly repeated error of the last credit crisis lies in creating risk and pricing models that defined the most likely scenario as the 15% bell curve.  This was facilitated by individual, institutional, and issuance credit modeling that failed take into account the borrowers' ability to repay in the event of a significant rise in relative interest rates, and the likelihood of such a rise.  It reflects a laziness in the perpetual search for yield.

Rolling Stone is far more readable than  Banking for Dummies (or any other work product of the US Congress which inevitably illuminates the empty cranial cavities required for employment there). 

However, as the alarmingly universal traits of greed and laziness (in the search for yield without labor), both among the bankers and their clients, led to the last credit crisis; upon imprisoning the current lot of fools- their replacements are just as likely to repeat the errors of their predecessors resulting in an inevitable future crisis, unless they fully understand the root causes and progression of events that led to the most recent crisis.  In this regard, neither Rolling Stone, nor the Senate report, are suitable tomes.

In the meantime, perhaps some troglodyte AG can find enlightenment from Rolling Stone and justify his otherwise obscene taxpayer compensation by throwing a crook in jail and at least increasing awareness of the potential cost of laziness on the part those currently working their way through the Wall Street fresh meat sausage grinder.

nah's picture

Its like... the taxypayers threw money at the problem... and public sentiment was 99% against it


however goldman may be ignorant...

doomandbloom's picture

A former CDO manager and investor says


for a moment i thought you were justifying GS actions....then i realised you are justifying your own worthless life and its activities...its all good...we forgive you.

Mister Rumbles's picture

caveat emptor, bitchez. GS does what it's allowed to. If you're soley accusing GS of selling junk, then you're not seeing the bigger picture. You don't go to jail in the country for an interpretation of ethical misconduct. We should be more outraged by the lawmakers we elect to protect the legal integrity of the banking know, the the accusing those 'lawbreakers' of being so bad.

Bob Sacamano's picture

When I see a disasterous bailout, I am inclined to lay more blame on those doing the bailing-out than those looking to get bailed-out.  Especially when those doing the bailing-out work for / represent me (theoretically) and I have no interest in the entity being bailed out.  GS did not have to get bailed out -- but your government did so.  Primarily government's problem.

If the argument is that GS unduly influences the government -- again inclined to blame those being influenced more than those doing the influencing. 

It is in the government's control to not provide bailouts or be influenced by others -- yet they do. 


Fred Hayek's picture

This is simply terrible logic and misrepresentation.  That's slightly ironic because that's Taibbi's main point, not that Goldman sold crap to unwary clients but that they MISREPESENTED what they were selling.  They lied to their clients to benefit themselves and in so doing committed fraud. 

That this deficient piece somehow professes to be realistic and yet can't admit that Taibbi's accusation is one of fraud not just that they sold junk to clients is what makes it so unsatisfactory.


Bob Sacamano's picture

In court, have to believe the numerous pages of Risk Factors disclosures will be highlighted showing the investor was informed of what could go wrong.  If the Risk Factors did not cover every conceivable risk, GS needs to get new securities counsel.  And the defense can't be "no one reads or believes the Risk Factors."  

slowimplosion's picture

"Fraudulent subprime mortgage backed securities issuers? CDO managers? Fraudulent mortgage originators? Fraudulent borrowers? Fraudulent Rating Agencies? Incompetent and toothless regulators? Lazy investors?"


This is correct, but the problem is that SO FAR only some of the investors and most of the home buyers are paying for their mistake.  It's time for the REST OF the MIS-stake holders to pay up too.

chumbawamba's picture

To Whomever at Stone Street Advisers wrote this steaming pile of dog shit:

If I ever get within 1 meter of you I will make sure to rub my balls on your chin.

I am Chumbawamba.

agrotera's picture

Thanks for the laughs Chumbawamba!

Confuchius's picture

Chumba, you are being far too kind.

silverfern's picture

I own my own HF/private equity firm in Hong Kong.I created the first private equity firm to invest over $ 400m in the early 90s in China.I began my career at GS,hired by Steve Friedman and worked closely in the 70s with both Rubin and Paulson.It was a great firm IMO then,only 47 partners and very close-knit.It is not a great firm today.IMHO Taibbi understates the case,GS is the new mafia.They rape and pillage because they can,stealing from clients and taxpayers alike.They are more dangerous than the mob because they control the cops who should be policing them.The Stone Street author was either in diapers when I began my career or is conflicted and should be investigated for his own firm's ties to this criminal organization.


Wall Street and the USA cannot regain their legitimacy until criminal proceedings under the RICO act are brought against Goldman Sachs.'s picture

+1 great reply! Honest and to the point.

Stone Street Advisors's picture

Not saying GS is innocent of every (or even most) charges levied against it, just that Taibbi doesn't know what he's talking about.  Thanks for the comment.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Actually, the reasons Taibbi's articles leave you so butthurt are:

1) he does know what he's talking about, and

2) his explanations peel away Wall Street's obfuscatory complexity and allow the reader a clear view of the snakepit of swindlers.


darkaeye's picture

“Not saying GS is innocent”


Maybe not, but you imply it by attempting to justify their perjury, by trying to share their culpability with everybody in sight, and by persecuting one of the few media voices getting traction in exposing the Vampire Squid’s blatant and total lack of ethics and moral values.


Similarly, I’m not saying you are a scumbag liar and are evident of all that is wrong with Wall St and the above-the-law banking cartel that is rapidly reducing the U.S. to 3rd world status.

Korrath's picture

As this post has destroyed whatever credibility your group sought to establish on this site, I can only assume the purpose of this article was to initiate a reaction of revulsion and loathing; to what purpose though?   That’s the part I’m trying to figure out…

In the future you might have better luck polishing this steaming pile of dog shit and calling it gold over at Seeking Alpha.'s picture

greedy junk bucket! get a remote car starter

Mach1513's picture

RS QED by his asinine remarks...

or he's kidding, right

Forbes's picture

I guess nearly everyone on this comment thread wants government guaranteed, or your money back, investments. Pathetic.

Don't do your homework, research, due dilligence, analysis, and risk-assessment, and the investment doesn't perform? Money-back. And sue/arrest/indict/jail the bastard for selling an investment that didn't meet your fantasy of expectations. Pathetic.

An investment is a speculation about the future. If you don't want to speculate about the future, don't invest--put your money in a FDIC-insured savings account. Pathetic.

Or did all of you wake up from a coma this morning.

Really, ZH should restrict comments to adults.


Arrowflinger's picture

Once again, some poor schmuck in a forced-upon-him 401k ponzi, does not make the choices of the investments he is invested in. 401k disclosures very carefully hide it from him.

Your excuse is bullshit.