Last time Goldman Sachs took a beating from takedown-artist Matt Taibbi (of "vampire squid" fame), many in the media thought the irrepressible journalist had ladeled on the outrage a little too thick. (In a July article, he accused the company of engineering "every major stock manipulation since the Great Depression.") But this week the banking titan is back in the populists' sights. Even as the rest of Wall Street posts record compensation packages to shrugs, Goldman Sachs's $3 billion quarter is stirring up the ire and the bile. Is Goldman Sachs back to being the whipping boy for all of Wall Street? Take a look:
- We're Entitled to Complain Though "Goldman wishes that the public would keep their eye on the bank's performance rather than obssessing about bonuses," writes the Guardian's Deborah Hargreaves, "with ... bumper earnings a year after the banks were saved from collapse by the taxpayer-- ... surely we have the right to ask what is happening with our money."
- Credibility Issues FT's John Gapper points out that the vampire squid to which Matt Taibbi famously compared the firm is actually a "small [creature] that present[s] no danger to humanity." But that said, Gapper thinks the bailout was "prima facie evidence" that Goldman's alumnae network in the public sector won't allow the company to fail.
Thus, at the heart of the financial system, now sits a professionals-only, high-risk Wall Street firm with its own private equity and hedge funds arrayed on top of a nonpareil corporate and government client list, which taxpayers reasonably assume is gambling with their money.
- Take a Look at These Earnings Reuters blogger Rolfe Winkler posts a chart of Goldman earnings and sums it up concisely: "Privatized profits in a world of socialized risk. Gotta love The New American Capitalism!"
- Let's Stop Funding their Hamptons Houses Now, suggests John Cole at Balloon Juice. "[Y]es, I supported the TARP action," he admits, "because I still figure it was better than a global financial collapse. I still reserve the right to hate these people."
- Calling All Citizen Investigative Journalists "It's Thursday," announces John Cook at Gawker, "so Goldman Sachs raked in billions with taxpayer help while you're still unemployed." Not to worry: there's a way you can retaliate. Cook unveils the "Goldman Project," supposedly inspired by Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein's call for transparency, but somewhat more indebted to Michael Moore in spirit; the project involves "track[ing] and publiciz[ing] the multi-million second homes, $50,000 cars, $500 bottles of wine, and ostentatious living that we are subsidizing." In fact, "we need your help," says Cook, who offers "a list of Goldman's managing directors" to get his readers started.
Are you Facebook friends with a Goldmanite who just posted photos of his lavish bachelor party? Post them to our fancy new tag page, #GoldmanProject, or e-mail them to us. Are you a realtor who just sold a $4 million duplex a Goldman banker? Is your ex-boyfriend Goldman banker planning a year-end trip to Cabo to blow his bonus wad? Shoot us an e-mail. Likewise, if you catch any references to Goldman employees living large in the media, post them to #GoldmanProject to keep a running clipfile.
- 'Goldman Sachs Has a PR Problem,' writes Barry Ritholtz in a prime candidate for the understatement of the year.
- You Guys Are Mad for the Wrong Reason The Business Insider's John Carney just has one question as he looks at the earnings statements for Goldman and JP Morgan: "is that it?"
Everyone knows you can make money if your borrowing costs are held artificially low by government backstops. So just being profitable isn't enough these days. We need heroic profitability. And neither Goldman nor JP Morgan delivered on the prospect of heroism.