Friday, December 14, 2007

Goldman makes $4 billion shorting sub-prime

In tonight's WSJ:

The group's big bet that securities backed by risky home loans would fall in value generated nearly $4 billion of profits during the year ended Nov. 30, according to people familiar with the firm's finances. Those gains erased $1.5 billion to $2 billion of mortgage-related losses elsewhere in the firm. On Tuesday, despite a terrible November and some of the worst market conditions in decades, Goldman is expected to report record net annual income of more than $11 billion...

If it spots opportunity, it can trade Goldman's own capital to make a profit. And when it does, it doesn't necessarily have to share such information with clients, who may be making opposite bets. This year, Goldman's traders did a brisk business handling trades for clients who were bullish on the subprime-mortgage-securities market. At the same time, they used Goldman's money to bet that that market would fall. Some critics say that blending those functions creates a risk that traders could use information about client trades for their firm's own benefit..

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