« Can you trust those online reviews? | Main | Is there a future in green jobs? »

April 28, 2021

How evil, exactly, is Goldman Sachs?

There’s not much room for discussion on U.S. congressional testimony in this space, but the Goldman Sachs mess happening south of the border right now is just too intriguing to pass up.

As you may have heard, the notorious investment bank is on trial in the States, facing furious claims that the firm cashed in on the country’s housing meltdown by betting against home loan securities and duping its own investors.

Carl Levin, the Democratic Senator from Michigan, is leading the charge against GS, which – through leaked internal emails and scathing, in-depth magazine pieces – is pretty much being painted as the most evil, soul-sucking corporation of all-time.

But can Goldman Sachs really be as malicious as has been suggested?

Let’s consider the facts – or, at the very least, the well-sourced allegations against the Wall Street giant:

First of all, you really have to read Matt Taibbi’s venomous Rolling Stone feature on GS. Though the article came out last July, its revelations are even more remarkable in hindsight and considering the trial under fire GS is now facing from Levin.

Taibbi essentially portrays GS as the money-grubbing, profits-above-all-else firm they’ve been made out to be, but also alleges the investment bank has been behind almost every major world market bubble since the Great Depression.

A taste, from the article’s subsection that claims Goldman Sachs was responsible for driving gas prices through the roof back in 2008:

“So what caused the huge spike in (the cost of oil)? Take a wild guess … Goldman did it by persuading pension funds and other large institutional investors to invest in oil futures – agreeing to buy oil at a certain price on a fixed date. The push transformed oil from a physical commodity, rigidly subject to supply and demand, into something to bet on, like a stock …

“… By the middle of last summer, despite rising supply and a drop in demand, (Americans) were paying $4 a gallon every time (they) pulled up to the pump.”

It’s a scathing piece, the entire article, but it’s also a fascinating read given the allegations that GS knew exactly the crap it was selling to its own investors.

And the Rolling Stone story has been given tremendous justice in these latest congressional hearings, where Levin reveals internal Goldman Sachs emails that feature traders openly discussing the “sh*tty” deals they knowingly forced on their clients. The particular fund the foul-mouthed traders were talking about happened to shed 80% of its value within months of being released.

Click here to see the video. Beware, though, there is explicit language.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...