Audit Notes: Goldman’s Junk Heap, Settlement?, Reuters’ Junk Heap

The New York Times DealBook blog had an excellent post yesterday on “The Goldman E-mails, or How to Sell Junk.” Why didn’t this one make the paper? It shows Goldman actively offloading its toxic waste onto unsuspecting clients.

Here’s an email to CEO Lloyd Blankfein:

I met with 10+ individual prospects and clients … since earnings were announced. The institutions don’t and I wouldn’t expect them to, make any comments like UT good at making money for urself but not us. The individuals do sometimes, but while it requires the utmost humility from us in response I feel very strongly it binds clients even closer to the firm, because the alternative of take ur money to a finn who is an under performer and not the best, just isn’t reasonable. Clients ultimately believe association with the best is good for them in the long run.

To which DealBook’s Chris V. Nicholson says:

They are being compensated in prestige, apparently, but that always doesn’t translate well to the balance sheet.

And look at this one:

Real bad feeling across European sales about some of the trades we did with clients. The damage this has done to our franchise is very significant. Aggregate loss of our clients on just these 5 trades along is 1bln+. In addition team feels that recognition (sales credits and otherwise) they received for getting this business done was not consistent at all with money it ended making/saving the firm.

That’s nasty.

— Is Goldman (an Audit funder) in settlement talks with the SEC or is it not? One branch of News Corporation implies yes. Another says no.

The New York Post implied yesterday that Goldman was in talks with the SEC about a settlement, a result it called “almost a certainty.”

Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business says nope:

There’s not a person on Wall Street, including at the senior levels of Goldman, who isn’t predicting a settlement.

But that doesn’t mean Goldman is now in settlement negotiations with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the case, as published reports have suggested. In fact, FOX Business Network has learned there are no settlement negotiations taking place and there probably won’t be anytime soon.

Regardless of who’s right, if the SEC agrees to a settlement—especially anytime soon—it would be a big loss for the public’s right to know what Goldman did.

— Now Reuters and Cox Newspapers are following USA Today’s lead and hopping into bed with the content mills, AdAge reports.

Reuters is running junk like this from Associated Content:

There is much negative news about the auto industry and GM in particular. But if other dealers can bring in multiple income streams and practice common-sense business — like my hometown car lot — I think they can sustain a solid business in a bad economy.

Again, readers go to professional news outlets because they want a certain level of, well, professionalism. Dilute your reputation at your peril.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.