Friday, January 16, 2009

The Goldman Sachs conspiracy theories tabulated

1. Bear Stearns
The news: In March, Bear Stearns’ stock plummeted, and clients questioned the firm’s viability. J.P. Morgan, with government assistance, agreed to buy Bear for $10 a share.
The facts: Rumors appeared in print that traders in Goldman’s London unit tried to drive Bear’s stock down.
The conspiracy theory: Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms have held a grudge against Bear since 1998 when the company refused to join in the $3.6 billion bailout of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Manage­ment. By spreading fear about Bear, Goldman stood to pick up some lucrative new clients. (Goldman’s response: “We went out of our way to be supportive of Bear Stearns.”)

2. Merrill Lynch Sale
The news: On the weekend that the government allowed Lehman to fail, Merrill Lynch, led by C.E.O. John Thain, sold itself to Bank of America for a tidy premium. Days later, the Britain-based bank Barclays agreed to buy Lehman’s core assets for pennies, wiping out Lehman’s shareholders.
The facts: Thain was a frequent adviser to Tim Geithner, who was then president of the New York Fed. Thain also worked as Goldman’s co-president under Paulson.
The conspiracy theory: To protect Thain’s sterling reputation (and Goldman’s too), Geithner and Paulson urged him to find a buyer immediately. If he hadn’t, Merrill would have followed Lehman Brothers into oblivion.

3. A.I.G. Bailout
The news: Officials agreed to extend A.I.G. an $85 billion loan—later upped to $123 billion—to prevent its collapse. Goldman C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein was (albeit briefly) the only investment-banking chief at a key meeting to discuss the deal.
The facts: Paulson installed Goldman vice chairman Ed Liddy as A.I.G.’s new C.E.O.
The conspiracy theory: Had the insurance giant failed, Goldman would have lost big. It’s said to have $20 billion in A.I.G. exposure. (Goldman says any exposure is offset by collateral and hedges.) Liddy was put in to protect Goldman’s interests. When asked why A.I.G. was bailed out but not Lehman, Dick Fuld, Leh­man’s C.E.O., told Congress, “Until the day they put me in the ground, I will wonder.”

4. Billions for the Banks
The news: The government injected $250 billion into U.S. banks as part of its bailout plan.
The facts: Before its collapse, Lehman Brothers was looking for a capital infusion of roughly $6 billion. Unable to raise the money, the company filed for bankruptcy. The government’s bailout plan, which included $10 billion for Goldman, came in October, just three weeks after Lehman was allowed to fail.
The conspiracy theory: The government let Lehman go under to eliminate one of Goldman’s biggest competitors. Though ­Goldman’s write-downs were tiny relative to those of its competitors, it was nonetheless granted the $10 billion in the bailout to preserve its advantage.

5. Bank Holding Companies
The news: In September, with markets swooning, Goldman Sachs applied to become a bank holding company. The Federal Reserve quickly approved the move, allowing Goldman (and Morgan Stanley, which had also applied for the change) to take deposits backed by the F.D.I.C.
The facts: Over the summer, Lehman C.E.O. Dick Fuld considered converting Lehman to a bank holding company. After discussions with the Fed, Lehman didn’t apply for the change.
The conspiracy theory: Goldman was thrown a lifeline by its many friends in government. Said a former Lehman swaps trader: “They were a lot more connected in government than Fuld was. At the end of the day, that cost Lehman.”

6. Short-Selling Ban
The news: On September 19, S.E.C. Commissioner Christopher Cox announced a month-long ban on the short-selling of stocks in 799 financial companies.
The facts: Executives at Bear and Lehman had long complained to regulators about traders’ irresponsibly shorting their stocks and stoking investor panic. The S.E.C. short-selling ban was implemented after both firms failed and Goldman’s stock dropped 20 percent over three days.
The conspiracy theory: When Goldman’s competitors felt pressure from the shorts, regulators acted timidly. Once the short-sellers turned their attention to Goldman, the company used its influence to push through a ban.

7. Rescuing Citigroup
The news: In November, after Citigroup’s stock dropped more than 60 percent in one week, the government injected $20 billion into the company—adding to the $25 billion it had already committed. The government also agreed to backstop the company’s losses once they surpass $29 billion.
The facts: Citigroup adviser and Goldman alum Robert Rubin mentored Geithner at Treasury and was one of Paulson’s contemporaries at Goldman.
The conspiracy theory: Geithner and Paulson came to the rescue of their friend. The bailout preserved Rubin’s big gig—he made more than $62 million from 2004 to 2007—despite claims he championed some of Citi’s riskiest strategies.

8. The Obama Presidency
The news: Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States.
The facts: As a group, Goldman Sachs employees were among the largest donors to the Obama presidential campaign, giving more than $884,000. Former Goldman hotshots, including Rubin and New Jersey Governor Jon Cor­zine, were reportedly candidates to become Obama’s Treasury secretary. Geithner was eventually picked.
The conspiracy theory: Obama’s victory and Geith­ner’s appointment are the completion of Goldman’s meticulously crafted plan to become a superpower. The firm now has the clout to impose its will on the financial markets—and the world.


Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the Goldman cabal--including Paulson, Geitner, Rubin etc.--planned to have the "crisis" which Paulson presented to Bush in August-September, become manifest at just that time in order to sink the economy just before the election and insure Democrat victories? They essentially let this occur and could have prevented it at anytime. Hooking the unwitting Bush--and the GOP--into this ludicrous "bailout" would create a situation of "crisis" which could be falsely pegged to less regulated free market and the GOP, and provide cover for the enormous spending of Obama for his pet groups as a phony "stimulus". This way they make it possible for the Democrats to get past the usual roadblock against their spending programs-- the inability to raise taxes. Obama has the gall to label his welfare payments to non-workers and non-taxpayers "tax cuts" and have Robert Reich say it is important to spend stimulus money quickly--just so long as white male experienced construction workers do not get any of that work.

Bush is an idiot to take his chief of staff and Treasury Secretary from a Democrat culture at Goldman Sachs. Robert Rubun would be the likely architect of this plan. Note how easily the Democrat house and senate went along with giving the GOP Treasury secretary unfettered power to spend the $700 billion. When & why would that happen unless the fix was in? said...

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