April 29, 2010

Torn like an old dollar bill

You might remember my comments on the unethical, amorphous blob that is Goldman Sachs. In particular, I noted they pushed CDOs out to the marketplace while never taking a position themselves. Good for thee, not for me; just about the last thing you want to see from a major (no, the major) financial services firm. The man who condoned such behavior wound up as Treasury Secretary. Now, with the release of Goldman trader Tourre's e-mails and testimony, it seems they did in fact take a position ... against their clients.

However damning all this may seem, I've got to admit I'm torn. One particularly inflamed CNN piece noted hedge fund manager Jon Paulson, who shorted the mortgage market, benefited significantly while investors "lost billions." Um ...yeah, it's called investing. Some bet one way and win, others bet another way and lose. And are Jon Paulson and his shareholders somehow not investors? What the CNN piece failed to note is that those on the losing side were hardly Mom and Pop. Many sophisticated investing shops with significant research arms are now crying foul over the simple fact that they missed the housing bust while others saw it coming. The SEC has its previous embarrassments, Congress has its financial reform agenda. Despite Goldman's behavior, I'm not so na?ve as to believe either has your best interests in mind with this latest round of bluster. I hope you're not either.

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