By Ben Cohen
I know this has been reverberating around the blogosphere (anything on the front page of the Huff Post tends to do so), but it’s worth repeating. Matt Taibbi on Goldman Sach’s sordid history of market manipulation, outright theft, and destruction of the U.S economy:
The first thing you need to know about
Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful
investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of
humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that
smells like money.
Any attempt to construct a narrative around all the former
Goldmanites in influential positions quickly becomes an absurd and
pointless exercise, like trying to make a list of everything. What
you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the
drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an
extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic
capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed
passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed
always defeats disorganized democracy.
They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again.
The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the
middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are
crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower
floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that
allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies
the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes
bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving,
they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us
all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling
themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys
keeping the wheels greased. They’ve been pulling this same stunt
over and over since the 1920s — and now they’re preparing to
do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious
There are other journalist saying the same thing, but Taibbi’s talent for encapsulating and simplifying complex financial language is nothing short of brilliant. His rep as an ultra cool Rolling Stone journalist also helps spread his message to people who otherwise wouldn’t have the stomach to understand what was happening to them.
For those of you looking to really get to the bottom of Taibbi’s reporting, I suggest reading Noam Chomsky, a man who Taibbi has borrowed a lot of his ideas from. Chomsky has been saying the same thing abour our corrupt banking/government system for 30 years, and has yet to featured on the front page of any mainstream media outlet. For an indepth look into the topic, read here. The money quote:
The task of a financial institution is to take risks. Now if it is a
well managed financial institution, say Goldman Sachs, it will take
into account risks to itself, but the crucial phrase here is to itself.
It does not take into account systemic risks, risks to the whole system
if Goldman Sachs takes a substantial loss. And what that means is that
risks are underpriced. There are more risks taken than should be taken
in an efficiently working system that was accounting for all the
implications. More, this mispricing is simply built into the market
system and the liberalization of finance.
The consequences of underpricing risks are that risks become more
frequent, and, when there are failures the costs are higher than taken
into account. Crises become more frequent and also rise in scale as the
scope and range of financial transactions increases. Of course, all
this is increased still further by the fanaticism of the market
fundamentalists who dismantled the regulatory apparatus and permitted
the creation of exotic and opaque financial instruments. It is a kind
of irrational fundamentalism because it is clear that weakening
regulatory mechanisms in a market system has a built-in risk of
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.