Goldman’s Forked Tongue

NYT and WSJ blow up a bank defense on the Paulson-Abacus deal

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal punctured one of Goldman Sach’s self-defenses in the Abacus scandal: That it lost $90 million on the deal, so it couldn’t have had economic incentive to structure it to fail.

Well, actually, y’all lost the money, the Journal said, because the bottom fell out of the market just as you tried to fob it off on others. In other words: You’re lying.

The New York Times takes that piece and advances it this morning with a super-smart story that further shows how Goldman (an Audit funder) is lying through its teeth (emphasis mine):

Mr. Tourre had been counting on one of the parties in the Abacus investment, ACA Management, to buy the stake that Goldman ended up with. At the last minute, ACA backed out, leaving Goldman holding part of Abacus.

Goldman executives urged Mr. Tourre to sell that stake. And they urged his colleague, Jonathan M. Egol, who is not named in the case, to purchase large amounts of insurance that would pay off in the event that mortgage investments like the Abacus stake lost value. That insurance ultimately offset the losses that Goldman claims it suffered on Abacus 2007-AC1, several former Goldman employees said.

So Goldman didn’t suffer any net losses at all on this. In fact, it probably made money off Abacus 2007-AC1. Which raises questions about whether Goldman executives are materially misleading their shareholders—not to mention investigators. Here’s what its general counsel Gregory K. Palm said yesterday on its conference call (emphasis mine):

“G.S. had no economic motivation for this transaction to fail,” Mr. Palm said. “If we believed there was something wrong with this transaction, we obviously wouldn’t have put our skin in the game in that way.”

That’s some chutzpah, especially since the WSJ’s story (which by the way, the Times should have credited), was already out that morning.

The press is doing excellent work here. Keep it up.

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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.