"The People Vs. Goldman Sachs" - Taibbi's Magnum Opus

Tyler Durden's picture

By Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Magazine

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

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.

The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse,
the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on
Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside
Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan
report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche
Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the
most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a
year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence
collected against Goldman by Levin's small, 15-desk office of
investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such
quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the
curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important
symbol of Wall Street's aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity
produced since the crash of 2008.

To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial
big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida
lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now
faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving
the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which
involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank and selling
loans that didn't exist) was almost completely unconnected to the
systematic corruption that led to the crisis. What's more, many of the
earlier criminals in the chain of corruption — from subprime lenders
like Countrywide, who herded old ladies and ghetto families into bad
loans, to rapacious banks like Washington Mutual, who pawned off
fraudulent mortgages on investors — wound up going belly up, sunk by
their own greed.

But Goldman, as the Levin report makes clear, remains an ascendant
company precisely because it used its canny perception of an upcoming
disaster (one which it helped create, incidentally) as an opportunity to
enrich itself, not only at the expense of clients but ultimately,
through the bailouts and the collateral damage of the wrecked economy,
at the expense of society. The bank seemed to count on the unwillingness
or inability of federal regulators to stop them — and when called to
Washington last year to explain their behavior, Goldman executives
brazenly misled Congress, apparently confident that their perjury would
carry no serious consequences. Thus, while much of the Levin report
describes past history, the Goldman section describes an ongoing?
crime — a powerful, well-connected firm, with the ear of the president
and the Treasury, that appears to have conquered the entire regulatory
structure and stands now on the precipice of officially getting away
with one of the biggest financial crimes in history.

Defenders of Goldman have been quick to insist that while the bank may
have had a few ethical slips here and there, its only real offense was
being too good at making money. We now know, unequivocally, that this is
bullshit. Goldman isn't a pudgy housewife who broke her diet with a few
Nilla Wafers between meals — it's an advanced-stage, 1,100-pound
medical emergency who hasn't left his apartment in six years, and is
found by paramedics buried up to his eyes in cupcake wrappers and pizza
boxes. If the evidence in the Levin report is ignored, then Goldman will
have achieved a kind of corrupt-enterprise nirvana. Caught, but still
free: above the law.

...

When it came time for Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein to testify, the banker
hedged and stammered like a brain-addled boxer who couldn't quite
follow the questions. When Levin asked how Blankfein felt about the fact
that Goldman collected $13 billion from U.S. taxpayers through the AIG
bailout, the CEO deflected over and over, insisting that Goldman would
somehow have made that money anyway through its private insurance
policies on AIG. When Levin pressed Blankfein, pointing out that he
hadn't answered the question, Blankfein simply peered at Levin like he
didn't understand.

...

This isn't just a matter of a few seedy guys stealing a few bucks. This
is America: Corporate stealing is practically the national pastime, and
Goldman Sachs is far from the only company to get away with doing it.
But the prominence of this bank and the high-profile nature of its
confrontation with a powerful Senate committee makes this a political
story as well. If the Justice Department fails to give the American
people a chance to judge this case — if Goldman skates without so much
as a trial — it will confirm once and for all the embarrassing truth:
that the law in America is subjective, and crime is defined not by what
you did, but by who you are.

Read the full thing here

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Rhone_Ranger's picture

+1,000

Your first line is perfect...

Think I'll put it on a t-shirt and wear it to church.

Ruffcut's picture

Make some, and I'll buy one, for sure.

And make the back like concert dates with a listing of some of those special shitty deals, but the cost of extra fabric might make the shirt TBTP, too big too print.

Joseph Jones's picture

Burn every God forsaken "house of worship"/AKA "church"/synagogue.  Outlaw public worship and public prayer.

SparkyvonBellagio's picture

Hang'em High said the masses! 

Vigilantism next for America?

 

 

 

Kali's picture

Yup, they are forcing it.  There will be no comfortable solutions.

JW n FL's picture


Goldman Sachs “Anatomy of a Financial Collapse” Report from the Senate http://goo.gl/LChRZ

PLUS some background info http://goo.gl/LmrHz

 

“Matt Taibbi” Explains How Wall Street Works http://goo.gl/HC2U8 and how Wall Street Wives Grabbed $220 Million in TALF Funds!

 

Keiser Report: Fleeing Dollar Flood & Fraud (E141) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_RBbeIFeT8 

 

nah's picture

if goldman sachs can do it in libya europe and the US... their goooooooooooood

km4's picture

 

"Defenders of Goldman have been quick to insist that while the bank may have had a few ethical slips here and there, its only real offense was being too good at making money. We now know, unequivocally, that this is bullshit. Goldman isn't a pudgy housewife who broke her diet with a few Nilla Wafers between meals — it's an advanced-stage, 1,100-pound medical emergency who hasn't left his apartment in six years, and is found by paramedics buried up to his eyes in cupcake wrappers and pizza boxes. If the evidence in the Levin report is ignored, then Goldman will have achieved a kind of corrupt-enterprise nirvana. Caught, but still free: above the law".

Right on!

 

Ruffcut's picture

Don't forget that after goldass testimony, there was this little flash crash event for which no one knew who dun it.

NidStyles's picture

Just someone trying to send a message. The problem is, who has bigger ball's? The banks, or the people trying to oust them into a nice four season's with complementary window bars?

FreeNewEnergy's picture

Both the banks and the people have had nearly three years in which to get the hell out of the way of the coming shit-storm. Those who are unprepared will have some problems. But if the people insist on going balls to the wall, it will turn the entire country over, upside-down and sideways for months, maybe years.

But isn't that what's already going on?

Hang 'em high. Bring on the Invisible Man, Eric Place-Holder.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Don't forget that after goldass testimony, there was this little flash crash event for which no one knew who dun it.

If only a 1,000 good Americans knew the truth and meaning behind your statement, then it might be enough. 

That golden sack does have giant brass balls.

Dgthr of Isis's picture

aahh yes, "There's the rub." --- first statement, that is.
(I don't know about brass balls rubbing, never had any LOL) . . .

JW n FL's picture

these margin calls causing all these other flash crash issues... could be a a way to get "We the People" talking about something other than Goldman.. a new, better, more evil, bad guy for the sheepeople to pine for!

 

CFTC is taking the heat off New York.. JP knows they are next! so make chicago jump on the grenade!

Waterfallsparkles's picture

Time to disban Goldman Sachs.  They seem to single handly collapsed the Market and the Economy of the United States.

Get rid of them.

Ruffcut's picture

They are looking for a way to go private again, so that would be their best approach.

Kill the stock price and buy them selves back at a huge discount. You don't think they are looking at those options?

Pullmyfinger's picture

I wonder what it'll take. Recently, I find myself hoping that a small group of Army colonels will finally decide that enough is enough, arrest everyone in the White House and Wall Street and declare martial law in D.C. Could that be any worse than it is now?

Cleanclog's picture

Gotta arrest most people in Congress too.

Pullmyfinger's picture

True. Bring it on. I'm 61. I remember the moratoriums and huge anti-war protests. Civil disobedience at it's finest. But where is the indignation today? Worse, the incipient police state is breathing down our necks as we speak. The "program" is being visibly accelerated. Much scarier now than then. Odd though, that I would hear myself advocating a banana republic solution. But then again, this is a banana republic now.

SoNH80's picture

Question is, would we get a George Washington or a Curtis LeMay?

SoNH80's picture

Or, someone who understood the meaning of the Constitution or a meathead troglodyte fascist?

Pullmyfinger's picture

Even a Curtis might be ok, though that's a tad more militaristic than I had in mind. Just as long as he didn't decide to bomb Minnesota just to take out Tim Palenty.

SoNH80's picture

Pretty broad range of acceptable outcomes, in other words.  Having seen D.C. up close, though, I don't have much faith in the possibilities for such a 'revolution from above.'  It's a nice & cozy club down there, especially for upper-level military officers.

OldPhart's picture

To hell with arresting them...shoot on sight.

AR15AU's picture

Shouldn't have bailed out AIG.

monkeys.pick.bottoms's picture

Oh, I beg to disagree. I wouldn't have bought my physical then because time was created between then and soon for a number of sorry fucks like yours truly to wake up and smell the decomposing fiat. I am eternally grateful for the four years of this.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Both of you are right.  Should not have bailed out anyone.

But, I too am grateful that I have had a nice long time to buy gold.

Smiddywesson's picture

I admit I was the same.  Flag waiver and loyal (insert joke political party here) party member.

I was an ignorant fool.

Smiddywesson's picture


I admit I was the same.  Flag waiver and loyal (insert joke political party here) party member.

I was an ignorant fool.

Still, I don't regret too much. 

I still remember laying beneath the Christmas tree in anticipation of Santa Clause.   My time believing in the way I was taught the country was run has similar nostalgic memories for me.

Oh well, there comes a time in everyone's life to put away childish things and learn the birds and the bees of central banking (and slavery)

 

tmosley's picture

If we had failed to bail them out, we would have had a severe recession, but not the Depression we are in now.  Things would probably back to normal for real if we hadn't done that, and embarked on this money printing charade.

I would trade every ounce of my silver and gold to live in an honest country.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

tmosley, old business!

Last week at the nearby Shell station: $4.15

Sunday: $4.09

Today: $4.19

???

Shell Game's picture

I would trade every ounce of my silver and gold to live in an honest country.

Indeed, brother, me as well.  Unfortunately, it would have required at least a decade of honesty prior to AIG to avoid the coming mega-depression.  The bailouts and subsequent QE had the fortunate silver lining of allowing many of us to prepare..

Ned Zeppelin's picture

Remember, the only crisis these greedy fucks feared was the loss of their own money.  If they had not been bailed out the world would not have ended, only the sick system that benefited them. The vast majority of the US economy would have shuddered a bit, some national legislation would have been necessary to stabilize things while the skyscrapers fell, and then we would have been hugely better off.  These parasites should be universally reviled and recognized for the dangerous, immoral sociopaths that they are. They are not worthy of the privilege of living in this country. To them, losing a dime is a misery, a dollar a crisis. Hank Paulson, traitorous scum that he is, rode to the rescue, a compliant and bought and paid for body of "elected representatives" capitulated, and Goldman walks, with all the money.  Screw you, says Blankfein.  And the Department of Justice and the other cops with the actual power, duty and authority to do something, do nothing. Jerk-offs. 

Cleanclog's picture

So much for "my word is my bond".  Left the building when the quants showed up.  And the quants showed up when partnership was abandoned.  

Will Blankfein be Fed chair, Treas secty or Head of CIA in 2013?

 

TheMerryPrankster's picture

By 2013, Director of the CIA, Treasury Secretary, and Federal Reserve Chairman will all be the same job, so I think Lloyd Blankfein will likely have the job, unless he becomes Vice President Blankfein.

Though you know Blankfein is a piker when you compare his pile of loot to former Treasury Secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs, Hank Paulson. He pocketed a cool 600 million tax free on the sale of his Goldman stock when he became Sec. of the Treasury. Boy its a short trip from D.C. to Wall Street, ain't it?

stoverny's picture

This is why Goldman is the best at what they do.  They basically bankrupted AIG with their collateral calls  - knowing of course that there is no way AIG could pay off on their massive CDS bets should the swaps actually be triggered...

then with a straight face they say that they did not need the AIG bailout money, because they had other insurance policies to protect themselves against an AIG collapse... even though these other firms with which they had insurance would have no money to pay them either, should AIG collapse.

But god bless em, they can twist theit thievery into so many endless semantic loops, in ends up sounding like they were the only prudent ones... that's why they are the best

oogs66's picture

so true, but since that required one more step of logic it was safe for goldman to assume no one in government would reach that inevitable conclusion

PaperBear's picture

Goldman Sachs should have gone belly up if not for their former executives being in the federal government.

Ned Zeppelin's picture

Hank Paulson. Where is the tree, the noose and the hanging judge when you need him? 

Kali's picture

In your hands.  Repeat, when good men, er, people, do nothing.

Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

After Taibbi wrote:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/truthers-fight-back-20110315

I tried to get him (or an assisstant) to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McF4flr2dYs

...because it's solid, compelling, sober, and of courtroom caliber...

...sadly, he refused...

I forgive him. 9-11 is more about hard emotions than hard facts.

Taibbi probably wouldn't have his job if he realized the obvious inside job that 9-11 was:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ustOIrp-OzU

For example, the junk counter on my statement goes up every time someone lets their emotions do their thinking for them about 9-11.

I forgive you too, junkers, for you know not what you do.

I am Jack's raging junk button. Without me, Jack could not regulate his heart rate, blood pressure, or breathing.

Hephasteus's picture

That's a good article and he's right. The slip up on building 7 fall is nothing. It means nothing. Even the 20 bajillon degrees of freedom cpu burning mathematical analysis of it means nothing. Me watching it all day and thinking that steel has to be hot by now and should be reaching plastic deformation before long and it falling an hour later means nothing.

What did it for me was the video of the gushing stream of cherry red particles flowing out the window. If it were molten airplane it wouldn't glow cherry red. Anyone who's ever used thermite or seen thermite used KNOWS exactly what the hell that was.

If you've never seen it in action. Take a gander.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR6K90cR8Lg

 

Bay of Pigs's picture

Thanks, I watched the whole clip (1:20). Some things there I wasn't aware of ten years later.

It is obvious that WT7 was brought down by controlled demolition. Pretty cut and dried on that. Anyone who cares to dispute it should look at the evidence presented here (and more importantly, was was omitted by official sources/reports). 

rocker's picture

Thank You Matt Taibbi.  There is someone besides myself that thinks Lord Blankfein is a crook who belongs in Jail.

Lets_Eat_Ben's picture

"Crook" is too kind. How about, world-class villain worthy of the kind of punishment he cannot be provided in this life...?

Pullmyfinger's picture

Didn't you notice how much Hank Paulson looked like Lex Luther? The East Coast is packed with super-villians now.

Waterfallsparkles's picture

I think the real blame belongs to Hank Paulson.  He was CEO when the created the CDS's, were created with all of those bad Mortgages and passed them off all over the World.  He then as Treasury Secretary make sure those bets would pay off by Nationalizing or Bankrupting all of the Companies GS has CDS's on.  Like AIG, WM, COF, BS, LEH, FNM, FRE, NFI, NEW, ABK, GM, etc.

Interesting that Paulson sold all of his GS stock and proceeded to kill all of GS's competitors.  Plus, kill all of the Companies that GS had CDS's on.

Yes, Blankfine is complicit but the real blame in my opinion is on Hank Paulson and he wrote a get out of Jail card in the Tarp Bill to protect himself.