Goldman Seizes Some of the Spotlight Back from BP

Goldman Sachs must have been enjoying its month-long respite from Most Despised Capitalist status. That crown rests quite easily on BP’s head now, thanks. So would Goldman (an Audit funder) be able to go all Spy Hunter and use an oil slick to derail the hot pursuit?

No. There’s plenty of space on the wall for bad-actor poster boys. Lloyd Blankfein’s mug still hangs in the rogue’s gallery next to Angelo Mozilo, Bernie Madoff, Tony Hayward, and hall of famers like Michael Milken, Bernie Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski, Jeffrey Skilling, Charles Keating, and the like.

Earlier this week, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission fired a double-barreled, bipartisan blast at 85 Broad (okay, okay: 200 West) for dragging its feet, dumping billions of pages of documents on the understaffed, underfunded commission, and possibly having “more to cover up than maybe we thought or they told us they did.”

I can’t think of any positive reason for such delay and obfuscation. Even if it’s benign, it speaks negatively about the Goldman culture.

Now, the Financial Times scoops today that the SEC is investigating yet another Goldman security, this one called Hudson Mezzanine, a $2 billion CDO that Goldman created and sold to investors while shorting the entire value of the deal (emphasis mine):

Legal experts said that inquiries into Hudson Mezzanine were likely to focus on whether Goldman provided investors with adequate disclosure. In a marketing document, Goldman stated its interests were “aligned” with investors because it would buy equity in the CDO.

In legal disclaimers, Goldman also said it would buy protection on the security, but it did not specify how much.

Here’s how Bloomberg puts it (emphasis mine):

The Hudson Mezzanine 2006-1 CDO contained credit default swaps that referenced $2 billion in subprime, BBB-rated residential mortgage-backed securities, according to the documents released by Levin’s committee. While Goldman Sachs selected the assets in the deal, the firm was also the only investor buying credit protection on the entire transaction, the documents show.

Goldman Sachs created and sold the Hudson CDO in late 2006, near the time documents released by Levin show senior executives wanted to reduce the firm’s exposure to subprime mortgages.

How convenient. Add Hudson to Abacus and presumably Timberwolf and Greywolf will be coming along shortly.

What else is out there?

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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.