According to the report, Goldman executives selected the securities that would be included in the $2 billion deal with no input from investors, which included the Wall Street investment bank Morgan Stanley. Goldman didn’t disclose that it would be holding the “short” position — betting on the default of the securities, even when a representative of one investor, the National Australia Bank, directly asked, it said.
Goldman used the deal “to transfer the risks” of $1.2 billion in risky home loans to investors, the report said. Goldman not only rid itself of risky assets, but also wound up with net profits of $1.35 billion, the report said.
Most interesting of all is this Bloomberg report noting how the Levin-Coburn report say Goldman Sachs engineered a short squeeze by manipulating prices:
The report also says that the mortgage desk reversed its view on how it marked derivatives values based on its position in the market. Clients with short positions complained that Goldman Sachs was undervaluing those bets during the squeeze attempt. After the traders abandoned that strategy in June 2007 and increased their wagers against the mortgage market, other clients complained the firm was overvaluing the short positions.
I’d love to see some more on that.
Finally, it’s newsworthy in itself that this is a bipartisan report agreed to by a liberal senator like Levin and a conservative one like Tom Coburn. Here’s Coburn:
The subcommittee’s findings show “without a doubt the lack of ethics in some of our financial institutions who embraced known conflicts of interest to accomplish wealth for themselves, not caring about the outcome for their customers,” said Coburn. “When that happens, no country can survive and neither can their financial institutions.”
It’s something of a minor miracle in this day and age that a scorching document like this about Wall Street could come out of Congress, much less with Republican support. You’d expect the bipartisanship-worshipping Serious Washington Journalists to devote columns of praise to this coming-together moment.
Something tells me, though, that they won’t. Let’s hope the business press, at least, picks this one apart for some time to come.