Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Goldman Sacks Us

You can’t believe everything you read but I think this article (the Great American Bubble Machine) should be required reading for everybody who owns a home, buys gas for their car, has heard of the bailout and might have concerns about global warming. Does that leave anybody out?

Rolling Stone
issue 1082/1083 (July 9-23, 2009) has this article by Matt Taibbi. I first heard of Taibbi on Imus. Now why Rolling Stone is investing in dense articles on financial hijinx alongside reviews of Lady Gaga I’ll never know but I’m glad somebody is doing it.

So far you can’t read Rolling Stone on-line unless you are a paper subscriber so you’ll need a friend who does or perhaps visit your library. OK I've included a link to the actual story above but who knows how long it will be active. Took some doing to find it)

Read it and find out that going back to the early 90s we’ve been getting screwed. Some of us may feel like it started before then but …

Read about tech stocks and their overvaluing and at least one culprit in this run-up to the bursting of the bubble of Internet stocks, IPOs and all that. Notice the involvement of Goldman Sachs – prominent Wall St. bank with friends in high places.

We’ve heard about the housing market, sub-prime mortgages, Countrywide – and all the loan defaults of the last few years. A major player in all this? Goldman Sachs.

How about 2008’s $4/gallon gas? Everyone I knew blamed it on the problems in the Middle East or the old “supply-and-demand” situation. According to the article, demand was at slightly lower levels and supply was slightly up. What gives? Seems Goldman Sachs was at least part of a massive and profitable (for them anyway) commodities speculation market, which was driving the price up. Bottom line? Our price at the pump goes up. Goldman Sachs makes a tidy profit.

One scary part about it is that politicians have to be involved at some levels and knowledge of what is going on. Rules were changed or exemptions were granted.

Read on about the coming “cap and trade” legislation moving through the Senate now. Supposedly this is to reduce global warming by taxing producers of carbon (utility power plants will likely be hit harder that anybody and who will pay for that? Not the utility directly but folks like you and me who use electricity made by burning coal) but this article lays out how this boondoggle of a program could become just another commodities market where people can buy, trade and sell the right to produce more or less carbon. Goldman apparently is in the catbird seat to take advantage of this new regulation whenever it comes into play.

I’ll back up to mention one more thing if you’ve read this far and can’t or won’t read the article. How come Bear Stearns (big Wall St. firm) is rescued last year and Lehman Bros. (former big Wall St. firm) is not? Lehman happened to be a competitor of Goldman. You do the math.

The Feds give umpteen billion to bailout AIG who in turn pays back Goldman $13 billion it owes them. Goldman re-does their books and promptly declares a profit early in 2009.

Without the money from AIG, which was taxpayer money from the bailout, they’d not have had any profit whatsoever. Did I mention that Goldman paid out $4.7 billion in bonuses and compensation in the first quarter of 2009?

Sad to say there isn’t anything we can do about this and it’s not a Democrat v. Republican or liberal v. conservative issue. There seems to be plenty of finger pointing to go all around. But it does seem odd that so many people in the govt. now under Obama have ties to Goldman in their very recent former lives.

Again if you can – go read the Great American Bubble Machine by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone. Somewhere at your public library today.

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