About AJ DiCintio
A.J. DiCintio is a Featured Writer for The New Media Journal. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on
the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up.
Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and
polished by experience, to social/political affairs.
We must believe in luck; for how
else can we explain the success of those we dislike.
Guy de Blonay certainly knows that those who "dislike” Goldman Sachs
don’t attribute its success to luck. Therefore, in the UK’s Telegraph
this week, he employs that line from poet Jean Cocteau only to poke fun
at skeptics who have other reasons for believing the bank doesn’t come
close to speaking the entire truth when it attributes its remarkable
money-making success to an "unusual effort...to recruit people
who...share [its] commitment to leadership in business and to the
communities where [it] works.”
In contrast to Mr. de Blonay, an apparent admirer of GS’s all-around
good works, Matt Taibbi, a libertarian blogger and Rolling Stone
contributor, is a GS critic, actually, a severe critic who describes the
bank with images that evoke thoughts of an amoral, frighteningly
dangerous rapacity, for example, when he depicts it as "a great vampire
squid wrapped around the face of humanity” or a "planet-eating Death
Star of political influence.”
The question, then, is this: Whom should we believe regarding how
Goldman Sachs does it and plans to do it better in the future?
With respect to that question, I’m in the Taibbi camp for this simple
In the neighborhood where I grew up, a gushing Pollyanna would have been
on the receiving end of the double exclamation that follows if he or she
had lavished praise on a monster of a bank that defines its success in
achieving community "leadership” by counting how many of its former
executives hold powerful positions in our federal government, other
governments, and quasi-governmental institutions such as the World Bank:
"Unbelievable! You’ve gone off your medication — again!”
I realize, however, that what constitutes sufficient reason for me falls
short of the facts most people require.
So, here are some details about GS, beginning with information regarding
a few people who, the vampire squid is happy to inform us, were willing
to forgo Pacific Ocean sized bonuses in order to devote their lives to
serving humankind — with exquisite impartiality, of course.
Under Bill Clinton, former GS partner Robert Rubin successfully led a
coalition of Clinton Democrats and Country Club Republicans to repeal
the Glass-Steagall Act, arguing that in the New World Order, U.S.
commercial banks would — oh, let’s say "teeter on bankruptcy” — if they
weren’t permitted to enhance their banking activities with the
Well, as we have seen in infinitely ugly detail, Rubin’s modern medicine
turned into poison for many of the nation’s largest banks, including
Citigroup, which paid an ocean of money to Robert the Know It All who
turned out to be Robert the Know Nothing About Insanely Stupid Risk.
But what of his former Wall Street employer? As it turns out, GS wasn’t
so much a user of the drugs that nearly killed the financial system as
it was a seller or, as some prefer to say, "a dealer.”
The bank, however, did need a certain amount of rehab. But would its
bottom line suffer as a result? Not to worry; for as we shall see
shortly, the planet-eating Death Star’s insurance policy (i.e.
"political influence”) would — let’s just say "pay off.”
Moving on to the next administration, we find that "Dubya” appointed GS
bigwigs to important economic posts at a rate one would have thought
applied only to Yale grads. And the most significant of those
appointments went to former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson.
Yes, that’s the Henry Paulson who allowed GS competitor Lehman Brothers
to go bankrupt.
The Henry Paulson who suddenly had a change of heart about bailouts and
brought in 35 year-old GS star Neel T. Kashkari to oversee the TARP
program. (The wunderkind immediately added maturity to his staff by
hiring former GS exec Reuben Jeffrey to help him bail out deserving
The Henry Paulson who bailed out AIG — which just happened to owe GS
And the Henry Paulson who ousted AIG’s CEO, replacing him with former GS
director Edward M. Liddy. (What giants are these, born in the trading
rooms, offices, and culture of the Goldman Sachs headquarters, the true
"Athens of America”!)
We come now to Barack Obama, who won the Election of ’08 with a message
of "hope and change,” the latter part of which GS employees had every
reason to believe didn’t apply to them because of their friends in high
places, especially the very high and very secret place called the
Federal Reserve System.
Remember that in September of ’08, it was the Fed that allowed Goldman
Sachs the investment bank to become Goldman Sachs the bank holding
company that can borrow from the Fed’s discount window at interest rates
— O! Happy Coincidence! — close to zero.
(One doesn’t have to be an economic genius to see that the Fed has put
the "fix” in for banks to recoup their losses — on the backs of the
American people, of course. And one doesn’t have to be a political
genius to understand why Fed monetary policy represents one of the main
reasons "change agent” Obama opposed Congressman Ron Paul’s bill to
provide for a public audit of the Fed.)
But to get back to the present — When Obama nominated Tim Geithner to
head Treasury, GS had a new friend in a high place, a friend all the
more special because he previously worked at the very high place that is
the office of the President and CEO of the NY Fed.
(The NY Fed, by the way, is also the high place where Stephen Friedman
served as Chairman of the Board even while he was a GS director and
significant shareholder, that is, until a WSJ article about the
simultaneous jobs caused him to resign in May of ’09.)
Now, what are friends in high places for except to fume about and demand
a retraction of AIG’s plan to pay $165 million in bonuses (as Geithner
and Obama did) while doing nothing about the fact that
bankrupt-if-not-for-bailout-money AIG was at the same time paying
obligations to banks at 100 cents on the dollar — Goldman Sachs
receiving 12billion of the 70billion
What a tribute that financial shenanigan was to the genius of the satire
that has Inspector Clouseau threatening an organ grinder performing on
the sidewalk in front of a bank while a gang of bank robbers flees out
the bank’s front door!
Here, I must admit that this list of missionaries GS sends out into the
world is incomplete, in fact, so miserably incomplete that it fails to
mention even the good works being accomplished by disciples such as Mark
Patterson (former GS lobbyist) who is Geithner’s chief of staff, Robert
Hormats (former GS vice chairman) whom Obama nominated for a top
economic job at the State Department, and Dianna Farrell (former GS
analyst) whom Obama appointed to serve as deputy director of the
National Economic Council.
But to keep things manageable, it’s time to move on to the final topic:
How GS intends to keep "doing it” in the future.
Well, if GS knows anything, it knows that "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix
it.” So, "Government Sachs” (as many Wall Street denizens call the bank)
will keep churning out profits from its investment bank activities as
well as by trading derivatives and speculating on currencies,
commodities (including oil), and the direction of stock markets.
GS will also continue to fulfill its — let’s call it "social
responsibility” — in the same $30 million manner that since 1988 has
made it Number Four among organizations that drop money into the
political collection basket. (see Center for Responsive Politics)
And not into any basket, mind you; for as the CRP reports, 63% of the
$30 million went to Democrats. Barack Obama, for example, received $1
million from GS employees.
Moreover, according to Matthew Vadum (American Spectator), "Goldman
Sachs also has a history of caving in to left-wing pressure groups, such
as Jesse Jackson’s Citizenship Education Fund and the extremist
Rainforest Action Network (RAN). Its corporate foundation’s donations go
exclusively to the left, according to a study that appeared in the
August 2006 Foundation Watch.”
Social responsibility also means paying big money to hear "important”
speeches from politicians. For example, CNS News reports that of the
$2.1 million former President Clinton received for 13 speeches delivered
to Wall Street audiences, $950,000 came from GS.
However, even as it continues the tried and true, GS knows that a
successful business must always keep both eyes wide open for new
How can I be so sure about that?
Well, in November of ’08, Kate Galbraith (NY Times) wrote this:
"Goldman Sachs has recently bought pieces of two carbon-offset
companies, in the latest sign of investment banks’ interest in the
And this, which she learned from a person in the "carbon brokerage”
"...buying into the offsets business could benefit [banks] if a federal
carbon-trading system took hold in the United States. President-elect
Barack Obama favors such a system...”
"Could benefit”? My dear Ms. Galbraith, it’s "will benefit enormously”
as banker vampires are certain to suck billions in profits from "Cap and
Trade,” a maniacal monstrosity that will lay on the already burdened
backs of the American people a triple incubus of fattened utility bills;
larded bills for other goods and services; and an emaciated economy.
I can see it now:
A carbon finance market swirls furiously as carbon credit packagers deal
(no more euphemisms such as "trade”) carbon credits, carbon
credit default swaps, and inscrutable collateralized carbon
credit obligations — not to mention their "subprime” cousins.
And, in perfect imitation of what happens regarding the lawsuit cycle,
in which legal Visigoths play their huge role in the sacking of America,
the dealers meticulously return an "appropriate” cut of their blood
money to the politicians who make it all possible.