BLANKENSTEIN to free world, "Put your torches down, I'm a nice guy!"
Smashing a two-year hiatus from TV interviews, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein today appeared on not one but two business networks, Bloomberg and CNBC.
So what was the occasion? According to Blankfein, “obviously it occurred to us we haven’t gotten everything right with respect to how we’ve dealt with the public.”
No shit, Lloyd? Really?
Your firm (1) got bailed out with hundreds of billions of taxpayer-supplied welfare, (2) one of your partners drops a parting shot that informs the world that you guys refer to clients as “muppets” whose eyes you tear out for kicks, (3) the SEC snaps out of its porn-watching lacuna to tag you guys with the biggest fine ever for screwing your own clients with investment products that your own people labeled as “shitty deals,” behavior that (4) scars your firm with the now-indelible nickname “vampire squid,” all of which you, Lloyd, try to (5) rationalize with the claim that you are just “doing God’s work.”
No, seriously, dude, why today?
Unconvincingly, the most hated homunculus banking head in the world replied that it was “not today specifically.”
Okay, sure. We’ll take that with a $200 billion side order of synthetic credibility swaps. We’re sure you descended to earth—twice in one day—like the god you are just for the sheer heck of it.
Here’s the deal. Last night Frontline aired the first part of its “Money, Power & Wall Street” documentary series, and Goldman Sachs came out—as usual when facts are discussed—smelling like a meth user’s swollen colostomy bag that bursts open under a heat lamp at a Reno buffet.
But that’s not all. After all, Goldman shows up in public smeared in its own feces all the time. No, what really got Lloyd was the way Frontline set up Goldman as a monster—and who it used as the hero in the story.
The first 45 minutes of the show was all about how a carefree bunch of youthful JP Morgan geniuses, while frolicking one summer day in Florida, solved the age-old banking problem of how to reduce risk. One minute they were honking down Cuervo shooters by the pool, and the next thing you know these kindly souls had figured out how to kill the Devil himself, R-I-S-K.
Led by Blythe Masters, who’s lovingly interviewed throughout the interminable yarn, these pilgrims called their wonderful new invention “collateralized debt obligations.”
It’s all beautiful until minute 46:00, and then Goldman explodes onto this veritable crèche of modern banking wearing flannel and a hockey mask and brandishing a chainsaw! Blythe and the other JP Morgan acolytes are appalled. They can’t believe it as Goldman wrenches their precious CDO’s into bank-account-robbing tools of evil, subprime toxic debts that Goldman then sold… to their own customers.
The whole set-up is pretty funny if you have even the remotest knowledge of JP Morgan, naked credit default swaps, MG Global, illegal foreclosures on military families, bought-off metropolitan police departments or deep South politicians in charge of sewer systems… We digress.
Frontline concludes the show with panoramic shots of Goldman’s housing bloodbath on Main Street, as Blythe practically sobs into the microphone, “we just couldn’t see it coming.”
By way of that background, you’d think Lloyd would come out swinging with some new chops, right? No. Lloyd just trotted out the same threadbare and self-serving lies that have bored us all since we were forced to pull the little man’s billion-dollar chestnuts out of the very gas fire that Goldman et al. started:
• We hedged our risks and didn’t need the bailout. (Righhhhht. That’s why your company took $30 billion from the FDIC’s voluntary Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP) after you sucked down $10 billion in TARP funds, which was after Goldman applied for status as a bank holding company.)
• Goldman is the right size. (Uh huh. Goldman is actually bigger than it was when another bailout program, the Systemically Significant Failing Institution Program, was created.)
• Competition is good. (Easy for Lloyd to say now with Goldman competitors Bear Stearns and Lehman in the morgue; well, at least Goldman is a top competitor for endless bailouts.)
• Re-regulation is a challenge. (You mean regulation like criminal prosecutions? Obviously not. Obama has declared, falsely, that no crimes were committed by Wall Street, an absurd mantra chanted by Eric Holder and the DOJ every day of their useless existences.)
• The biggest threat to Goldman was risk management at other companies. (AIG’s failure to manage risk included its sale of $13 billion in credit default swaps to Goldman, a move that would have bankrupted AIG but for the backdoor bailout of Goldman and other competitors in the game of taxpayer-funded bailouts.)
Pretty weak for an appearance following a two-year absence, if you ask us. And truthfully? The Frontline piece treated Lloyd and Goldman with kid gloves.
If that’s enough to smoke Lloyd out of hiding twice in one day after two years, we can’t wait to see how he reacts to Goldman’s more, um, thorough treatment in Bailout.