Wall Street's Bailout HustleGoldman Sachs, Wall Street
Goldman Sachs and other big banks aren’t just pocketing the trillions we gave them to rescue the economy – they’re re-creating the conditions for another crash
Posted Feb 17, 2010 5:57 AM
On January 21st, Lloyd Blankfein left a peculiar voicemail message on the work phones of his employees at Goldman Sachs. Fast becoming America’s pre-eminent Marvel Comics supervillain, the CEO used the call to deploy his secret weapon: a pair of giant, nuclear-powered testicles. In his message, Blankfein addressed his plan to pay out gigantic year-end bonuses amid widespread controversy over Goldman’s role in precipitating the global financial crisis.
The bank had already set aside a tidy $16.2 billion for salaries and bonuses — meaning that Goldman employees were each set to take home an average of $498,246, a number roughly commensurate with what they received during the bubble years. Still, the troops were worried: There were rumors that Dr. Ballsachs, bowing to political pressure, might be forced to scale the number back. After all, the country was broke, 14.8 million Americans were stranded on the unemployment line, and Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to recover the populist high ground after their bitch-whipping in Massachusetts by calling for a “bailout tax” on banks. Maybe this wasn’t the right time for Goldman to be throwing its annual Roman bonus orgy.
Not to worry, Blankfein reassured employees. “In a year that proved to have no shortage of story lines,” he said, “I believe very strongly that performance is the ultimate narrative.”
Translation: We made a shitload of money last year because we’re so amazing at our jobs, so fuck all those people who want us to reduce our bonuses.
What We Should Learn from Jim Cramer vs. The Daily Show’s Jon StewartAIG, Bear Stearns, Ben Bernanke, Citibank, CNBC, Cramer+Stewart, Credit Default Swaps, Deep Capture, Derivatives, Dick Fuld, Gradient Analytics, Hedge Funds, Henry Paulson, Jim Cramer, Jon Stewart, Lehman Brothers, Maria Bartiromo, Mortgage Crisis, Overstock, Patrick Byrne
::What We Should Learn from Jim Cramer vs. the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart::
What should we learn from the fact that “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart has in four evenings (1 2 3 and 4) exposed Jim Cramer in a way that, in any sane world, he would have been exposed a decade ago? To answer that, consider these associated facts: while the Jim Cramer constellation of journalists (Mitchell’s Media Mob) backed each other up while covering-up the subject of criminally abusive short selling by hedge funds to whom they were close, four channels of the media broke rank:
- Two years ago Bloomberg did a half-hour documentary that broke away from the Party Line;
- Liz Moyer at Forbes has covered the real issues fairly and diligently, and another Forbes reporter named Nathan Vardi took a good swipe at the story (”Sewer Pipes“);
- Rolling Out Magazine (”an UrbanStyle Weekly serving the African American community”) called me up a couple years ago and did precisely the fair, non-disorted interview of which the remainder of the New York financial media was entirely incapable;
- Now, “The Daily Show” has broken ranks by stating the obvious: there are journalists shilling for favored hedge funds.
Could the lesson be that the first news organizations that can break ranks with the Party Line are either fringe (”Rolling Out Magazine” and “The Daily Show”) or the properties of billionaires (Bloomberg and Forbes) who cannot be intimidated?
Perhaps someday, a journalist will look into the pressures that were brought on news organizations (e.g., on Bloomberg leading up to their running “Phantom Shares”). Just a few weeks ago I got the story, again, from a journalist: “I was working on a story about naked short selling and Deep Capture. Then, suddenly I was stopped. It’s weird because I have been a journalist here for 9 years. I have built a great reputation with my editor, and have never had a story interfered with. But I got a couple months into this story, and suddenly I was stopped from above. I’ve never seen that happen before.” I replied, If you only knew how many times a journalist has said that to me in the last couple years….
The Real Scandal That Will Bring Jim Cramer Down: The Story of Deep CaptureAIG, Bear Stearns, Ben Bernanke, Citibank, CNBC, Cramer+Stewart, Credit Default Swaps, Deep Capture, Derivatives, Dick Fuld, Gradient Analytics, Hedge Funds, Henry Paulson, Jim Cramer, Jon Stewart, Lehman Brothers, Maria Bartiromo, Mortgage Crisis, Overstock, Patrick Byrne
The Columbia School of Journalism is our nation’s finest. They grant the Pulitzer Prize, and their journal, The Columbia Journalism Review, is the profession’s gold standard. CJR reporters are high priests of a decaying temple, tending a flame in a land going dark.
In 2006 a CJR editor (a seasoned journalist formerly with Time magazine in Asia, The Wall Street Journal Europe, and The Far Eastern Economic Review) called me to discuss suspicions he was forming about the US financial media. I gave him leads but warned, “Chasing this will take you down a rabbit hole with no bottom.” For months he pursued his story against pressure and threats he once described as, “something out of a Hollywood B movie, but unlike the movies, the evil corporations fighting the journalist are not thugs burying toxic waste, they are Wall Street and the financial media itself.”
His exposé reveals a circle of corruption enclosing venerable Wall Street banks, shady offshore financiers, and suspiciously compliant reporters at The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, CNBC, and The New York Times. If you ever wonder how reporters react when a journalist investigates them (answer: like white-collar crooks they dodge interviews, lie, and hide behind lawyers), or if financial corruption interests you, then this is for you. It makes Grisham read like a book of bedtime stories, and exposes a scandal that may make Enron look like an afternoon tea.
By Patrick M. Byrne