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Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Are Now Bank Holding Companies

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The Federal Reserve Board on Sunday approved, pending a statutory five-day antitrust waiting period, the applications of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to become bank holding companies.

 

A bank holding company, under the laws of the United States, is any entity that directly or indirectly owns, controls or has the power to vote 25% or more of a class of securities of a U.S. bank. Bank holding companies are required to register with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Actions of bank holding companies are covered under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. § 1841(a)(2)(A) et seq.). The Bank Holding Company Act prohibits a bank holding company from engaging in most non-banking activities or acquiring voting securities of certain companies that are not banks.

 

To provide increased liquidity support to these firms as they transition to managing their funding within a bank holding company structure, the Federal Reserve Board authorized the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to extend credit to the U.S. broker-dealer subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley against all types of collateral that may be pledged at the Federal Reserve's primary credit facility for depository institutions or at the existing Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF); the Federal Reserve has also made these collateral arrangements available to the broker-dealer subsidiary of Merrill Lynch. In addition, the Board also authorized the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to extend credit to the London-based broker-dealer subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch against collateral that would be eligible to be pledged at the PDCF.

 

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE: GS) today announced that it will become the fourth largest Bank Holding Company and will be regulated by the Federal Reserve.

 

In recent weeks, particularly in view of market developments, Goldman Sachs has discussed with the Federal Reserve our intention to be regulated as a Bank Holding Company. We understand that the market views oversight by the Federal Reserve and the ability to source insured bank deposits as providing a greater degree of safety and soundness. We view regulation by the Federal Reserve Board as appropriate and in the best interests of protecting and growing our franchise across our diverse range of businesses.

 

Since the spring of this year, the Federal Reserve has been reviewing our liquidity and funding profile, capital adequacy and overall risk management framework. We are pleased that the Federal Reserve recognizes the strength and health of our liquidity and funding and the overall quality of our risk management. We have maintained our Tier 1 capital levels well above the Federal Reserve’s “well-capitalized” threshold of 6 percent since these ratios were first calculated in 2004. For the past several quarters, in light of the difficult market environment, we have been reducing our risk exposures and increasing our capitalization. Our Tier 1 capital ratio at the end of the third quarter was 11.6 percent.

 

“When Goldman Sachs was a private partnership, we made the decision to become a public company, recognizing the need for permanent capital to meet the demands of scale. While accelerated by market sentiment, our decision to be regulated by the Federal Reserve is based on the recognition that such regulation provides its members with full prudential supervision and access to permanent liquidity and funding,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. “We believe that Goldman Sachs, under Federal Reserve supervision, will be regarded as an even more secure institution with an exceptionally clean balance sheet and a greater diversity of funding sources.”

 

Goldman Sachs already has two active deposit taking institutions – Goldman Sachs Bank USA and Goldman Sachs Bank Europe PLC – which, together, hold more than $20 billion in customer deposits. We are moving assets from a number of strategic businesses, including our lending businesses, into GS Bank USA. With over $150 billion in assets, GS Bank USA will be one of the ten largest banks in the United States. While these assets are fully funded for term, they also are available to be funded by the Federal Reserve. We intend to grow our deposit base through acquisitions and organically.

 

Goldman Sachs is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of services worldwide to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and high net worth individuals. Founded in 1869, it is one of the oldest and largest investment banking firms. The firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong and other major financial centers around the world.

 

http://www2.goldmansachs.com/our-firm/pres...holding-co.html

 

Morgan Stanley today announced that its application to become a bank holding company was approved by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Morgan Stanley has elected to be deemed a financial holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act.

 

Morgan Stanley sought this new status from the Federal Reserve to provide the Firm maximum flexibility and stability to pursue new business opportunities as the financial marketplace undergoes rapid and profound changes. The Firm will pursue initiatives to expand the retail banking services it offers its retail clients and build a stable base of core deposits. Morgan Stanley has more than 3 million retail accounts and had $36 billion in bank deposits as of August 31, 2008.

 

The Firm’s status as a Federal Bank Holding Company also provides Morgan Stanley ongoing access to the Federal Reserve Bank Discount Window and expanded opportunities for funding.

 

John J. Mack, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “This new bank holding structure will ensure that Morgan Stanley is in the strongest possible position – with the stability and flexibility to seize opportunities in the rapidly changing financial marketplace. It also offers the marketplace certainty about the strength of our financial position and our access to funding. As we evolve our business model and move quickly to seize these new opportunities, we remain intensely focused on continuing to provide world-class service and advice to our clients and deliver long-term value to our shareholders.”

 

As part of this process, Morgan Stanley will convert its Utah industrial bank to a national bank and will become subject to supervision of the Federal Reserve. The Firm also will be regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which will continue to insure deposits at Morgan Stanley Bank to the maximum extent allowed by the FDIC.

 

The Firm does not expect significant adverse tax or accounting effects from this new status, nor does the Firm expect there to be limitations on its activities that would have a material impact on Morgan Stanley’s overall business.

 

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services. The Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals from more than 600 offices in 35 countries. For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.

 

http://www.morganstanley.com/about/press/articles/6933.html

Edited by wiley

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Guest Fed Up

Here are two more disguised bailouts. Last week, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, watched their share price disintegrate. At one point Goldman's price drifted below its book value. Now they get promoted to banks. Go Figure!!!!

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Guest Greaseman

I was perusing Barnes and Noble this past weekend (Sunday) and noticed that Rolling Stone Magazine had an article on Goldman Sachs. The article was dubbed "The Great American Bubble Machine" and seems to expose Goldman Sachs as the cause not only for the current financial crisis, but for financial bubbles dating back to the 1930's. More importantly, It gives a prime example of why investors should manage their own money and government should stay out of the economy.

 

The article is a must read for everyone, especially if you have an account with Goldman or any of the other big brokerage houses. Without getting into the entire details thus depriving you of a great read; in the article, Matt Taibbi unveils how Goldman Sachs was responsible for the dot com bubble, mortgage bubble, and commodities bubble. And, with Goldman looking to pay out roughly $20 billion in annual bonuses to their people this year alone, it goes to show just how much clout these big banks really have. So, if you haven’t read the article, pick it up at your local newsstand.

 

My questions are…

 

Is it fair that any banks were bailed out in the first place?

Is it fair that these banks that prey on investors (as you’ll read) give their people bonuses?

How much of government is run by ex-Wall Street types?

 

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story..._bubble_machine

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Guest Bluntman

I wish I had read this. It is a little late, but better late than never.

 

Here is all Goldman Sachs recent political contributions.

 

McMahon, Michael E (D-NY) House $26,800

Schumer, Charles E (D-NY) Senate $22,600

Pleitez, Emanuel (D-CA) House $20,175

Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-NY) Senate $15,000

Khazei, Alan (D-MA) Senate $14,100

Hodes, Paul W (D-NH) House $13,100

Crist, Charles J Jr (R-FL) Senate $9,600

Kirk, Mark (R-IL) House $8,800

Bean, Melissa (D-IL) House $7,400

Dold, Robert (R-IL) House $7,200

Wyden, Ron (D-OR) Senate $6,300

Coakley, Martha (D-MA) Senate $5,800

Himes, Jim (D-CT) House $5,400

Meek, Kendrick B (D-FL) House $5,050

Hoyer, Steny H (D-MD) House $5,000

Bennet, Michael F (D-CO) Senate $4,800

Chachas, John Gregory (R-NV) Senate $4,800

McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA) House $4,500

Blunt, Roy (R-MO) House $4,200

Inouye, Daniel K (D-HI) Senate $4,000

Murphy, Scott (D-NY) House $3,650

Bayh, Evan (D-IN) Senate $3,400

Dodd, Chris (D-CT) Senate $3,250

Adler, John H (D-NJ) House $3,000

Lance, Leonard (R-NJ) House $3,000

Tedisco, Jim (R-NY) House $2,900

Dorgan, Byron L (D-ND) Senate $2,650

Portman, Rob (R-OH) Senate $2,650

Bachus, Spencer (R-AL) House $2,500

Lincoln, Blanche (D-AR) Senate $2,500

Minnick, Walter Clifford (D-ID) House $2,500

Reid, Harry (D-NV) Senate $2,500

Fisher, Lee Irwin (D-OH) Senate $2,400

Flake, Jeff (R-AZ) House $2,400

Maloney, Carolyn B (D-NY) House $2,400

Roskam, Peter (R-IL) House $2,400

Royce, Ed (R-CA) House $2,400

Sowers, Tommy (D-MO) House $2,400

Waters, Maxine (D-CA) House $2,400

Williams, Roger (R-TX) Senate $2,400

Conway, Jack (D-KY) Senate $2,250

Bunning, Jim (R-KY) Senate $2,000

Garrett, Scott (R-NJ) House $2,000

Posey, Bill (R-FL) House $2,000

Rangel, Charles B (D-NY) House $2,000

Schwartz, Allyson (D-PA) House $2,000

Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL) House $1,700

Arcuri, Michael (D-NY) House $1,000

Baucus, Max (D-MT) Senate $1,000

Boxer, Barbara (D-CA) Senate $1,000

Burton, Dan (R-IN) House $1,000

Cantor, Eric (R-VA) House $1,000

Diaz-Balart, Mario (R-FL) House $1,000

Donnelly, Joe (D-IN) House $1,000

Etheridge, Bob (D-NC) House $1,000

Leahy, Patrick (D-VT) Senate $1,000

Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK) Senate $1,000

Murphy, Tim (R-PA) House $1,000

Sestak, Joseph A Jr (D-PA) House $1,000

Brown, Scott P (R-MA) Senate $500

Capuano, Michael E (D-MA) House $500

Clark, Casey (D-MD) House $500

Ellison, Keith (D-MN) House $500

Foley, Thomas C (R-CT) Senate $500

Monteagudo, Carlos A (D-IL) House $500

Murphy, Patrick J (D-PA) House $500

Simmons, Robert R (R-CT) Senate $500

White, Bill (D-TX) Senate $500

Woods, Anthony (D-CA) House $500

Young, Todd Christopher (R-IN) House $500

Casey, Bob (D-PA) Senate $250

Franken, Al (D-MN) Senate $250

Murphy, Mike (R-IN) House $250

Scalise, Steve (R-LA) House $250

Shays, Christopher (R-CT) House $250

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Guest x

Gary D. Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs, went to Athens to pitch complex products to defer debt. Such deals let Greece continue deficit spending, like a consumer with a second mortgage.

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Guest copula

So Goldman Sachs made $192 million in fess in helping Greece disguise their debt.

 

Goldman made vast profits in packaging toxic mortgage assets, selling these into the market, insuring their values with AIG and then shorting them in the derivatives market.

 

Unethical if not illegal.

 

When is the DoJ/SEC going to act to stamp out these practices???

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Guest Bill

I don't doubt that GS influence through its 'alumni' in government and regulatory agencies will attempt to limit the scope and the depth of any investigations, but GS screwed some fairly powerful institutions as well.

 

Those institutions have lobbyists and government connections as well, and even if they cannot inspire criminal investigations, they will file civil suits and do discovery in those cases. As those cases wind their way through the courts and become topics of news coverage, there will be disclosures that will not be popular with the public.

 

Those disclosures will increase the pressure for effective government investigations and demands by the public for punishment of those they will see as being responsible for the economic pain we're going through.

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Guest RT

The European Union has asked Greece to explain reports that it engaged in derivatives trades with US investment banks that may have allowed it to mask the size of its debt and deficit from EU authorities. Goldman Sachs made up an exchange rate that allowed the Greeks to look as though they were only engaging in a currency swap when, in effect, they were getting more than a billion more than they should have from the trades in credit.

 

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Guest Senator Sanders

Wall Street Strikes Again Wall Street tactics akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages in America have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece and undermining the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts. The New York Times said one deal created by Goldman Sachs helped obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels.

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Guest Fedup

Is Goldman Sachs benefiting from Build America Bonds?

 

Goldman Sachs benefiting from Build America Bonds Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa talks with Bloomberg's Susan Li about his questioning of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. over the amount of fees collected in their underwriting of the government's Build America Bonds program.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwTh6701gm4

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The End is Beginning.. :ph34r:

 

SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud in Structuring and Marketing of CDO Tied to Subprime Mortgages

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Goldman, Sachs & Co. and one of its vice presidents for defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages as the U.S. housing market was beginning to falter.

 

The SEC alleges that Goldman Sachs structured and marketed a synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO) that hinged on the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). Goldman Sachs failed to disclose to investors vital information about the CDO, in particular the role that a major hedge fund played in the portfolio selection process and the fact that the hedge fund had taken a short position against the CDO.

 

"The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the Division of Enforcement. "Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio, while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party."

 

Kenneth Lench, Chief of the SEC's Structured and New Products Unit, added, "The SEC continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the U.S. housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress."

 

The SEC alleges that one of the world's largest hedge funds, Paulson & Co., paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which Paulson & Co. could take short positions against mortgage securities chosen by Paulson & Co. based on a belief that the securities would experience credit events.

 

According to the SEC's complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the marketing materials for the CDO known as ABACUS 2007-AC1 (ABACUS) all represented that the RMBS portfolio underlying the CDO was selected by ACA Management LLC (ACA), a third party with expertise in analyzing credit risk in RMBS. The SEC alleges that undisclosed in the marketing materials and unbeknownst to investors, the Paulson & Co. hedge fund, which was poised to benefit if the RMBS defaulted, played a significant role in selecting which RMBS should make up the portfolio.

 

The SEC's complaint alleges that after participating in the portfolio selection, Paulson & Co. effectively shorted the RMBS portfolio it helped select by entering into credit default swaps (CDS) with Goldman Sachs to buy protection on specific layers of the ABACUS capital structure. Given that financial short interest, Paulson & Co. had an economic incentive to select RMBS that it expected to experience credit events in the near future. Goldman Sachs did not disclose Paulson & Co.'s short position or its role in the collateral selection process in the term sheet, flip book, offering memorandum, or other marketing materials provided to investors.

 

The SEC alleges that Goldman Sachs Vice President Fabrice Tourre was principally responsible for ABACUS 2007-AC1. Tourre structured the transaction, prepared the marketing materials, and communicated directly with investors. Tourre allegedly knew of Paulson & Co.'s undisclosed short interest and role in the collateral selection process. In addition, he misled ACA into believing that Paulson & Co. invested approximately $200 million in the equity of ABACUS, indicating that Paulson & Co.'s interests in the collateral selection process were closely aligned with ACA's interests. In reality, however, their interests were sharply conflicting.

 

According to the SEC's complaint, the deal closed on April 26, 2007, and Paulson & Co. paid Goldman Sachs approximately $15 million for structuring and marketing ABACUS. By Oct. 24, 2007, 83 percent of the RMBS in the ABACUS portfolio had been downgraded and 17 percent were on negative watch. By Jan. 29, 2008, 99 percent of the portfolio had been downgraded.

 

Investors in the liabilities of ABACUS are alleged to have lost more than $1 billion.

 

The SEC's complaint charges Goldman Sachs and Tourre with violations of Section 17( a ) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10( B ) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5. The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest, and financial penalties.

 

# # #

 

For more information about this enforcement action, contact:

 

Lorin L. Reisner

Deputy Director, SEC Enforcement Division

(202) 551-4787

 

Kenneth R. Lench

Chief, Structured and New Products Unit, SEC Enforcement Division

(202) 551-4938

 

Reid A. Muoio

Deputy Chief, Structured and New Products Unit, SEC Enforcement Division

(202) 551-4488

Edited by BlackSun

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Guest Enron Ex

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE: GS) said today:We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record which establishes that the accusations are unfounded in law and fact.

 

We want to emphasize the following four critical points which were missing from the SEC’s complaint.

 

• Goldman Sachs Lost Money On The Transaction. Goldman Sachs, itself, lost more than $90 million. Our fee was $15 million. We were subject to losses and we did not structure a portfolio that was designed to lose money.

 

• Extensive Disclosure Was Provided. IKB, a large German Bank and sophisticated CDO market participant and ACA Capital Management, the two investors, were provided extensive information about the underlying mortgage securities. The risk associated with the securities was known to these investors, who were among the most sophisticated mortgage investors in the world. These investors also understood that a synthetic CDO transaction necessarily included both a long and short side.

 

• ACA, the Largest Investor, Selected The Portfolio. The portfolio of mortgage backed securities in this investment was selected by an independent and experienced portfolio selection agent after a series of discussions, including with Paulson & Co., which were entirely typical of these types of transactions. ACA had the largest exposure to the transaction, investing $951 million. It had an obligation and every incentive to select appropriate securities.

 

• Goldman Sachs Never Represented to ACA That Paulson Was Going To Be A Long Investor. The SEC’s complaint accuses the firm of fraud because it didn’t disclose to one party of the transaction who was on the other side of that transaction. As normal business practice, market makers do not disclose the identities of a buyer to a seller and vice versa. Goldman Sachs never represented to ACA that Paulson was going to be a long investor.

 

Background

 

In 2006, Paulson & Co. indicated its interest in positioning itself for a decline in housing prices. The firm structured a synthetic CDO through which Paulson benefitted from a decline in the value of the underlying securities. Those on the other side of the transaction, IKB and ACA Capital Management, the portfolio selection agent, would benefit from an increase in the value of the securities. ACA had a long established track record as a CDO manager, having 26 separate transactions before the transaction. Goldman Sachs retained a significant residual long risk position in the transaction

 

IKB, ACA and Paulson all provided their input regarding the composition of the underlying securities. ACA ultimately and independently approved the selection of 90 Residential Mortgage Backed Securities, which it stood behind as the portfolio selection agent and the largest investor in the transaction.

 

The offering documents for the transaction included every underlying mortgage security. The offering documents for each of these RMBS in turn disclosed the various categories of information required by the SEC, including detailed information concerning the mortgages held by the trust that issued the RMBS.

 

Any investor losses result from the overall negative performance of the entire sector, not because of which particular securities ended in the reference portfolio or how they were selected.

 

The transaction was not created as a way for Goldman Sachs to short the subprime market. To the contrary, Goldman Sachs’s substantial long position in the transaction lost money for the firm.

 

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and high-net-worth individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong and other major financial centers around the world.

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Guest Fedup

Goldman Sachs brand is tarnished. Investors will leave them now that they know Goldman Sachs bets against their own clients. They are scumbags.

 

CBS Tony Guida reports on the SEC lawsuit alleging fraud.

 

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Guest Enron Ex

I hope people see that there is a major problem when investment banks rate the investment packages they create?

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Guest American Thinker

On Friday, Goldman’s stock dropped 13 percent and the company lost more than $10 billion of the company’s market value. European banks are considering forcing Goldman Sachs to give back the money they lost.

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Guest Lee Sustar

EVEN CONSPIRACY theorists couldn't make this stuff up: A plot by the most powerful Wall Street bank and a hedge fund kingpin to rev up subprime mortgaging lending in order to profit massively when the inevitable collapse finally came.

 

If a Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit against Goldman Sachs is correct, the blowup of the housing market that began in 2007 was in part a controlled demolition engineered by Goldman and John Paulson, a hedge fund manager who got Goldman to create mortgage-backed securities that were meticulously designed to fail.

 

And if the New York Times is accurate, top Goldman executives--including CEO Lloyd Blankfein--were deeply involved, ordering traders to create ever more dog-dirt securities that would make big money for Goldman and John Paulson once the market crashed.

 

Investors in the esoteric products--known in the financial world as derivatives--that were designed to fail lost $1 billion. Paulson did rather better, pulling in an estimated $3.7 billion in 2007 and another $2 billion in 2008, even as the economy cratered.

 

Much of the media's coverage of the Goldman scandal has focused on the arcane details of the lawsuit. But the essentials are easy enough to understand.

 

A young Goldman Sachs trader, Fabrice Tourre, spotted the housing bubble back in 2005-2006, as did hedge fund boss John Paulson. When Paulson decided he wanted to bet on a big fall in home prices--and the default on mortgages and foreclosures that would result--he got Tourre to assemble securities--investment products known as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)--tied to packages of mortgages that the two men believed would turn bad.

 

Paulson bought a piece of the CDOs, while Tourre, in turn, marketed them to other investors--including big banks like ABN/AMRO (now part of Royal Bank of Scotland).

 

But those investors were being played for suckers. While they bought CDOs that they believed would make them money, Paulson and Goldman Sachs were "shorting" them--that is, making a bet that their investments would turn worthless. They made this wager by purchasing credit default swaps (CDS)--essentially, a special form of insurance that would pay out an investment that went bad.

 

Sylvain Raynes, a financial consultant, explained the logic to the New York Times last year:

 

The simultaneous selling of securities to customers and shorting them because they believed they were going to default is the most cynical use of credit information that I have ever seen. When you buy protection against an event that you have a hand in causing, you are buying fire insurance on someone else's house and then committing arson.

 

As happens in other cases of arson, the fire spread out of control quickly. Financial firms that sold the credit default swaps--AIG, the world's largest insurer, was the biggest CDS dealer, but there were plenty of other companies involved--were on the hook to make payouts they couldn't remotely afford if the underlying investments went bad.

 

For example, ACA Capital Holdings Ltd., named in the SEC lawsuit against Goldman Sachs, was brought on board to ensure the Abacus CDO created by Goldman and John Paulson to allegedly defraud investors. Incredibly, ACA ensured some $50 billion in financial assets, even though it only had $400 million in capital and resources to pay claims.

 

Of course, Goldman Sachs bosses and John Paulson knew that ACA couldn't possibly meet its commitments. But that didn't matter, since they were passing all the risk onto others.

 

The inability of outfits like ACA--to say nothing of AIG--to pay their CDS obligations could only magnify the impact of any drop in the value of mortgage-backed securities. When the financial bottom fell out in the autumn of 2008, what might have been a typical recession morphed into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

 

Credit markets seized up, creating a financial shockwave that has cost the U.S. economy at least 8 million jobs, wiped out $11 trillion in financial wealth, and caused even more immense economic suffering worldwide. The already rising foreclosure rate skyrocketed, and with unemployment rates stuck at around 10 percent, millions still remain at risk of losing their homes.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

IN RECENT testimony before Congress, assorted CEOs and other Wall Street bigwigs solemnly told us that they didn't see any of this coming, had nothing to do with it, and couldn't have stopped it in any case.

 

But in the Goldman lawsuit and beyond, the evidence is piling up that the best and brightest in the financial industry not only saw the housing bubble take shape, but also plotted to make it even bigger in order to profit when it burst.

 

In recent months, the big banks have returned to profitability and handed out huge bonuses, thanks to a massive government bailout. But that's okay, according to the Obama White House, because much of the government money that went to banks from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout has been repaid with interest.

 

In fact, the bailout goes far beyond TARP. It includes near-zero interest rates that inject free money into bank balance sheets, a panoply of special lending programs from the Federal Reserve Bank, and specialty regulatory changes that converted Goldman Sachs and other investment banks into bank holding companies to allow them to take advantage of these and other programs.

 

Then there's Goldman's hands-on--to put it mildly--approach to the federal government takeover of AIG to the eventual tune of $182 billion.

 

As the financial markets seized up in September 2008, Tim Geithner, then-president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank sat down with Goldman boss Blankfein and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (no relation to John) in order to cook up a rescue that involved AIG paying 100 cents on the dollar for its bad bets insuring mortgage-backed securities. As a result, some $14 billion of U.S. taxpayer money passed straight through AIG's books and into Goldman's coffers.

 

As the government's own inspector general for TARP, Neil Barofsky, put it, the Fed may have given a "backdoor bailout" to AIG's creditors, including Goldman. "Tens of billions of dollars of government money was funneled inexorably and directly to AIG's counterparties," he wrote. (Goldman, however, didn't even get the most from Uncle Sam's payout to AIG. That prize went to the French bank Societe Generale, which bagged $16.5 billion).

 

Certainly it came as no surprise that the George W. Bush administration was keen to tend to the interests of the big banks, especially Goldman. After all, Hank Paulson had been the company's CEO before taking over at Treasury.

 

But Obama's elevation of Geithner to Treasury Secretary ensured a continued friendly regime for Wall Street. And no wonder: Turns out that one of Geithner's top advisers, Lewis Sachs, formerly oversaw the CDO operations of Tricadia, another company that worked with Goldman Sachs to create rotten mortgage-backed securities, just like John Paulson.

 

"Some securities packaged by Goldman and Tricadia ended up being so vulnerable that they soured within months of being created," the New York Times' Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story noted last year.

 

If people like Lewis Sachs could get away with this kind of operation, it was in no small part due to the financial deregulation pushed in the 1990s by Larry Summers, the former Treasury secretary who now serves as Barack Obama's top economic adviser.

 

With these kind of people in charge of economic policy, it's little wonder that many view the Democrats in the White House and Congress as just as cozy with Wall Street as the Republicans. Goldman employees even contributed $1 million to Obama's 2008 campaign, while hedge funds and private equity firms gave $2.9 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This has given rise to the surreal specter of Republican senators attacking Obama from the left for his handling of Wall Street.

 

- - - - - - -

 

NOW COMES the SEC lawsuit against Goldman. It may have been intended simply as vote-getter for Democrats in the November midterm elections--a way to build momentum to pass a proposed mild financial reform bill that Obama can portray as a curb on Wall Street greed. In fact, the SEC was playing catch-up to Morgenson and Story of the Times, who detailed the Goldman Sachs-John Paulson scam in a story published in December.

 

But by putting a harpoon into the biggest whale of all, the SEC has touched off a wider hunt by investigative journalists, powerful financial industry lawyers and ambitious prosecutors. Other Wall Street firms will become targets, too: The con game run by Goldman Sachs and John Paulson--creating mortgage-backed securities that were primed to turn toxic--was imitated by other players, large and small.

 

For example, investigative journalists at the nonprofit group ProPublica, Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein, chronicled how a fairly obscure hedge fund, Magnetar, worked with most of the big Wall Street banks to create bad mortgage-backed securities similar to the one Goldman is alleged to have created for John Paulson. According to ProPublica:

 

At least nine banks helped Magnetar hatch deals. Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and UBS all did multiple deals with Magnetar. JPMorgan Chase, often lauded for having avoided the worst of the CDO craze, actually ended up doing one of the riskiest deals with Magnetar, in May 2007, nearly a year after housing prices started to decline. According to marketing material and prospectuses, the banks didn't disclose to CDO investors the role Magnetar played.

 

Many of the bankers who worked on these deals personally benefited, earning millions in annual bonuses. The banks booked profits at the outset. But those gains were fleeting. As it turned out, the banks that assembled and marketed the Magnetar CDOs had trouble selling them. And when the crash came, they were among the biggest losers.

 

Actually, though, the biggest losers are taxpayers. Many of the banks stuck with Magnetar's lousy CDOs were among those deemed too big to fail, and which therefore received a torrent of government cash.

 

When Tim Geithner's Treasury Department claims that the financial bailout has cost taxpayers "only" $89 billion, hold onto your wallet. As Gretchen Morgenson explained:

 

A major factor missing from Treasury's math is the vast transfer of wealth to banks from investors resulting from the Fed's near-zero interest-rate policy.

 

This number is not easy to calculate, but it is enormous. The Fed's rock-bottom interest-rate policy bestows huge benefits on banks because it allows them to earn fat profits on the spread between what they pay for their deposits and what they reap on their loans. These margins are especially rich on credit cards, given their current average rate of 14 percent and up.

 

Also included on the taxpayers' bill is the still-uncalculated cost of the nationalization of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the "government-sponsored enterprises" that own or guarantee most home mortgages. This past Christmas Eve, the White House quietly removed the $400 billion ceiling on the amount the government would pay to prop up Fannie and Freddie, suggesting that the final price tag will go far higher.

 

Together, Fannie and Freddie have $1.6 trillion in debt and hold $5 trillion in mortgaged-backed securities, much of which is worth far less than its stated value.

 

And that's not all. The 18 biggest banks have gotten at least $34 billion in subsidies as the result of special government loan programs, according to Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The list could go on.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

IF YOU'RE having a hard time keeping track of all that government money flowing into the banks, well, that's the point. After the fury that followed the passage of the TARP bill in Congress last fall, politicians in both parties have learned to camouflage taxpayer subsidies to the banks.

 

Add it all up, and various government entities have either loaned, invested or guaranteed up to $13 trillion. Certainly, not all of that amount has or will be paid out. Still, the message is clear: When it comes to bailing out Corporate America, money is no object--as long as it's taxpayer money. Even when Wall Street fraudsters put that cash straight into their pockets.

 

Meanwhile, of the millions of people stuck with mortgages at exploding interest rates and collapsing home prices, only a small minority got a chance to participate in a government program that reduced mortgage payments--and even then only temporarily.

 

The recipients of the bailouts have turned out to be even more crooked than anyone outside Wall Street could imagine. In the past few months, investigations have uncovered widespread fraud at two defunct financial institutions.

 

For example, the investment bank Lehman Brothers, which went under in 2008, was found to have used off-the-books operations and special short-term loans known as repurchase agreements to hide its liabilities. That may be shocking to many--but it's standard operating procedure on Wall Street and across Corporate America.

 

Scandal also surrounds the corpse of Washington Mutual, one of the more notorious pushers of subprime loans. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recently detailed how WaMu----now absorbed into JPMorgan Chase--aggressively pushed sub-prime loans on borrowers in order to maximize its profits at the borrowers' expense.

 

The same scrutiny will now be brought to bear on the surviving institutions that, we were told, were too big to fail, lest their downfall drag the entire economy over a cliff as well. The individual named in the SEC lawsuit, Fabrice Tourre, is a relatively small fry at Goldman, despite pocketing $2 million by conning investors into buying the bad paper he concocted with John Paulson.

 

The question now is whether the widespread anger at the banks can be harnessed to take on the Wall Streets titans--and whether we can get organized to make them pay for the incalculable economic damage they've caused.

 

http://socialistworker.org/2010/04/20/the-banker-robbers

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Guest LAW

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the FSA to launch an inquiry into Goldman Sachs.

 

Hundreds of millions of pounds have been traded here and it looks as if people were misled about what happened. I want the Financial Services Authority to investigate it immediately.

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Guest LAW

FSA statement on Goldman Sachs International

 

20 April 2010

 

Following preliminary investigations the FSA has decided to commence a formal enforcement investigation into Goldman Sachs International in relation to recent SEC allegations.

 

The FSA will be liaising closely with the SEC in this review.

 

http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/Library/Communication/Statements/2010/goldman_sachs.shtml

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Guest ALWAYSRED

Just heard that Gregory Craig, President Barack Obama’s former White House counsel, is working as an adviser to the Goldman Sachs syndicate.

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I guess it depends how grateful President Obama is to his largest campaign contributor. But, in the President's defense on Financial Reform he appears to be firm against the banks.

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Guest LAW

I guess it depends how grateful President Obama is to his largest campaign contributor. But, in the President's defense on Financial Reform he appears to be firm against the banks.

 

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) issued the following statement on news the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Goldman, Sachs & Co. and one of its vice presidents with defrauding investors.

 

"The SEC lawsuit against Goldman Sachs makes serious allegations involving securities fraud. I will not comment on ongoing litigation.”

 

"But let’s be clear, we don’t need to know the outcome of this case to know that the opaque nature of unregulated asset backed securities fueled the financial crisis. And even as our country is still recovering from those mistakes, Wall Street financial firms continue to game the system.”

 

"We must pass Wall Street reform to bring practices like these into the light of day and protect our economy from another devastating blow."

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Guest Senator Levin's Office

Senate Subcommittee Investigating Financial Crisis Releases Documents on Role of Investment Banks

 

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released several exhibits that will be among those discussed on Tuesday at the fourth of its hearings on the causes and consequences of the financial crisis.

 

The exhibits are available at this link.

 

Using Goldman Sachs as a case study, the April 27 hearing will focus on the role of investment banks in contributing to the worst U.S. economic crisis since the 1930s, resulting in the foreclosure of millions of homes, the shuttering of businesses, and the loss of millions of American jobs. The Subcommittee, whose Chairman is Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and whose Ranking Republican is Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has conducted a nearly year and a half investigation into the 2008 financial crisis.

 

“Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs were not simply market-makers, they were self-interested promoters of risky and complicated financial schemes that helped trigger the crisis,” said Sen. Levin. “They bundled toxic mortgages into complex financial instruments, got the credit rating agencies to label them as AAA securities, and sold them to investors, magnifying and spreading risk throughout the financial system, and all too often betting against the instruments they sold and profiting at the expense of their clients.” The 2009 Goldman Sachs annual report stated that the firm “did not generate enormous net revenues by betting against residential related products.” Levin said, “These e-mails show that, in fact, Goldman made a lot of money by betting against the mortgage market.”

 

The four exhibits released today are Goldman Sachs internal e-mails that address practices involving residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), financial instruments that were key in the financial crisis.

 

Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and other current and former company personnel are scheduled to testify at Tuesday's hearing.

 

In one of the e-mails released today, Mr. Blankfein stated that the firm came out ahead in the mortgage crisis by taking short positions. In an e-mail exchange with other top Goldman Sachs executives, Mr. Blankfein wrote: “Of course we didn't dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts.”

 

In a second e-mail, Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer David Viniar, who also will testify on Tuesday, responded to a report on the firm's trading activities, showing that – in one day - the firm netted over $50 million by taking short positions that increased in valued as the mortgage market cratered. Mr. Viniar wrote: “Tells you what might be happening to people who don't have the big short.” Levin said: “There it is, in their own words: Goldman Sachs taking ‘the big short’ against the mortgage market.”

 

In a third e-mail, Goldman employees discussed the ups and downs of securities that were underwritten and sold by Goldman and tied to mortgages issued by Washington Mutual Bank's subprime lender, Long Beach Mortgage Company. Reporting the “wipeout” of one Long Beach security and the “imminent” collapse of another as “bad news” that would cost the firm $2.5 million, a Goldman Sachs employee then reported the “good news” – that the failure would bring the firm $5 million from a bet it had placed against the very securities it had assembled and sold.

 

In a fourth e-mail, a Goldman Sachs manager reacted to news that the credit rating agencies had downgraded $32 billion in mortgage related securities – causing losses for many investors – by noting that Goldman had bet against them: “Sounds like we will make some serious money.” His colleague responded: “Yes we are well positioned.”

 

Prior hearings of the Subcommittee have looked at how high risk lending strategies, bank regulatory failures, and inflated credit ratings contributed to the financial crisis. Next Tuesday’s hearing examining the role of investment banks will be the final hearing in the quartet of hearings on “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis.”

 

The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. in room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

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