The Goldman Scam

Friday, July 31, 2009

Or why Congress better tax 95% of Wall Street bonuses (with no bloody loopholes).

From a former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, Nomi Prins, writing on Mother Jones:

Keep in mind that by virtue of becoming a bank holding company, Goldman received a total of $63.6 billion in federal subsidies (that we know about—probably more if the Fed were ever forced to disclose its $7.6 trillion of borrower details). There was the $10 billion it got from TARP (which it repaid), the $12.9 billion it grabbed from AIG’s spoils—even though Goldman had stated beforehand that it was protected from losses incurred by AIG’s free fall, and if that were the case, would not have needed that money, let alone deserved it. Then, there’s the $29.7 billion it’s used so far out of the $35 billion it has available, backed by the FDIC’s Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, and finally, there’s the $11 billion available under the Fed’s Commercial Paper Funding Facility.

Tactically, after bagging this bounty, Goldman asked the Fed, its new regulator, if it could use its old risk model to determine capital reserves. It wanted to use the model that its old investment bank regulator, the SEC, was fine with, called VaR, or value at risk. VaR pretty much allows banks to plug in their own parameters, and based on these, calculate how much risk they have, and thus how much capital they need to hold against it. VaR was the same lax SEC-approved risk model that investment banks such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers used, with the aforementioned results.

On February 5, 2009, the Fed granted Goldman’s request. This meant that not only was Goldman getting big federal subsidies, but also that it could keep betting big without saving aside as much capital as the other banks.

Read this piece and then forward to your Congressperson and the White House with your feelings on the matter. The top talent is scamming you.

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Why the Stimulus Will/Has Fail(ed)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Because it’s a matter of trust. The economy won’t recover until there is a palpable sense that we are doing the right thing. But no one can say, with certainty, that we are. Meanwhile, Americans, who truly understand being in debt, are watching the government pile on trillions with only a possible (it’s a bet!) positive outcome.

It’s beyond frightening. And though as a basic matter of economics – the money goes into circulation and revives the patient – what they are doing should work, there is a “spiritual” component here that is ignored. The patient has got to believe he’s going to get better. On that score, the doctors have a lot more work to do.

Just watch the Q2 GDP numbers beat expectations. We’ll hear that the recession is (near) over. And yet…their are plenty of layoffs on the horizon and no job creation; plenty of debt, and nothing resembling a balanced budget.

The hardest times are still ahead.

P.S. On a related note, if Congress doesn’t tax Goldman Sachs bonuses at, like, 90% (and they won’t), it will be hard to say that Americans aren’t justified in taking the law into their own hands down at 85 Broad Street. They shouldn’t. It is wrong to do so. But it will still be hard to say. Goldman Sachs represents the apotheosis of the moral hazard. Too big to fail, they make their profits on your back.