Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yet More Squiddery: Doing "Gods Work"

And just when we thought we were done talking about
The Squid, and all its many friends in high places,
guess what - they're baaaack.

In a wide-ranging interview with John Arlidge of the
London Times, Goldman Sachs Chief Squid Lloyd
Blankfein touches on both the sacred and the profane.

In comments as to why Goldman has managed to do
so well while competitors Bear Stearns and Lehman
Brothers fell by the wayside, Blankfein opines:

"Well, we didn't f**k up like the other guys. We still
have a balance sheet. So that gives us a richer and bigger
pot to p**s in" .

But, it wasn't all locker room profanity. Affably greeting his
guest, Blankfein proceeds to give him the Grand Tour and
then escort him to his office, where he waxes both practical
and philosophic on the business of Investment Banking,
concluding his comments with "you know,
we're really doing God's work here. "

Now, until he uttered that phrase, the interview had been
entirely uncontroversial and even explanatory. Giving
many real-world examples, The Chief Squid was low-key
and courteous, the very picture of the diligent investment
banker, valiantly doing his best in difficult times and trying
to get his side of the story understood.

But "Doing God's Work?" That's a bit over the top. That's
the explanation your British Vice Chairman, Lord Griffiths,
tried to use to justify his "inequality is good" remarks. It's also
the explanation the bonehead Chairman of Barclay's actually
offered at Sunday Services.

So Lloyd, even though that remark isn't fresh, I'd be real
careful about that if I were you.

Because even though I'm not a particularly religious man,
I don't see how mocking a Deity (One with distinctly different
published views on the matter, by the way), is going to help
your cause with a skeptical and suspicious public.

But then, maybe you have the stats to back it up.
Looking at your latest 10-Q (quarterly filing), you show
modest revenue from Merger, Acquisition and Advisory
activity, and even a slight uptick in client trading -all
traditional investment banking activity.

Not bad - considering the times.

But boy, on the prop side (proprietary trading), you guys
really made out - revenues from equity prop trading
went from 348 million to 938 million in just this quarter!

And in commodities, fixed income, options and derivatives,
your proprietary trading (trading for your own benefit with
your "own" money), went from 1.3 billion to 6 billion, when
compared with the same quarter last year!

And in just this last quarter, out of 65 business days, your
trading ops were profitable in 64 of them!

Wow - I guess I stand corrected. I had thought that your
zero-interest, no-limit access to the discount window was
the secret. Or your high-frequency arbitrage trading. Or
your front-running clients through dark pools. Nope.

What's now apparent is that The Really Big Guy
upstairs has seen the light, signed off on everything
and told you to go for it.

It's not regulatory capture, or Congressional capture,
or Fed capture that counts.

Divine Capture anyone?

There are friends in High Places - and friends in Really
High Places as well.

Well, it looks as if us mere mortals will have to revise things,
beginning with Scripture.

How about this?

" Our Chairman
Who art at Goldman
Blankfein be thy name
The Rally comes,
Thy will be done
In the Markets as in Heaven and Earth
And Give us this day our Daily Gains
And lead us not into Bankruptcy
As you bankrupted Bear and Lehman before us
And lead us not into Indictment
But deliver us our bonuses
For Thine is the Fed and Treasury
The White House and Congress
Forever and ever
Amen " (h/t Barry Ritholz)

1 comment:

  1. I think Goldman Sacks Really cooks their books. like Wolfgang Puck or Emeril Really cook masterpieces. BAM! WOW! POP! Basically Goldman Sacks is to investment banking just like Emeril and Wolfgang Puck and Emeril are to cooking: popular, wealthy, and on top of the game!

    Goldman Sacks simply learned NOT to cook the books like the failed Enrons, Worldcoms, and Lehman Bros. of the world- since those "recipes" fell out of favor with the world elites.