Monday Links: What About JP?, BB BW, McLean on Goldman

Bloomberg’s David Reilly writes a good column pointing out that while Goldman Sachs is getting all the flak right now, JPMorgan Chase is somehow skating by untouched despite being “No. 1 in the too-big-to-fail bank club.”

Goldman is so loathed that it, not JPMorgan, probably would be first to face a firing squad if Congress bowed to calls to break up the biggest financial firms. This is even though JPMorgan has more than double the assets of Goldman, and twice the notional (or face) value of over-the-counter derivatives contracts, and is a huge retail bank with $868 billion in deposits — 20 times the amount Goldman has.

— The Audit’s Seattle bureau has yet to receive the first issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, so we will outsource the early criticism to a BW alum who keeps a close eye on his old magazine: Gary Weiss. He’s worried, pointing to one Bloomberg-written piece:

… the main thing that struck me was the writing style—flat, and lacking in what we used to call “forward spin.” The way BW articles have traditionally been written, a point of view was always present even in the briefest article. By the end, or “kicker,” you knew what the writer (actually the magazine itself, given the group editing) thought about the subject matter. It was formulaic and perhaps hackneyed, but it worked.

We had hoped that Bloomberg News often-scuffed prose would be influenced by BusinessWeek’s editorial polish rather than the other way around. It’s early days still, but it bears watching.

— Finally, Bethany McLean’s very readable and reasonably tough 8,000 word piece on Goldman Sachs (an Audit funder) is worth your time if you want an examination of how Goldman sees itself and why it’s often not the real picture. Here’s a sample of that, emphasis mine:

Goldman’s press releases about its spectacular earnings never mention government assistance of any kind. In June, the firm paid back the $10 billion in tarp funds it had taken. Taxpayers got a 23 percent return. As for the $21.6 billion in funds guaranteed by the F.D.I.C. that Goldman still has outstanding, a recent Congressional report estimates that it will save Goldman $2.4 billion over the life of the debt. But Cohn argues that that is actually costing the firm, in fees to the F.D.I.C. and interest, because it is excess liquidity. (When I repeat that to another Wall Streeter, he closes his eyes and says, “Please tell me Gary didn’t say that.”) Cohn also says that issuing the F.D.I.C. debt was “the single biggest mistake we made.”

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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.