Goldman Sachs Messages Show It Thrived as Economy Fell

Editor’s Note: Now the truth as reported here two years ago.
  • There were no losses.
  • They were making money hand over fist.
  • And this article focuses only on a single topic — some of the credit default swaps — those that Goldman had bought in its own name, leaving out all the other swaps bought by Goldman using other banks and entities as cover for their horrendous behavior.
  • It also leaves out all the other swaps bought by all the other investment banking houses.
  • But most of all it leaves out the fact that at no time did the investment banking firms actually own the mortgages that the world thinks caused enormous losses requiring the infamous bailout. It’s a fiction.
  • In nearly all cases they sold the securities “forward” which means they sold the securities first, collected the money second and then went looking for hapless consumers to sign documents that were called “loans.”
  • The securities created the intended chain of securitization wherein first the investors “owned” the loans (before they existed and before the first application was signed) and then the “loans” were “assigned” into the pool.
  • The pool was assigned into a Special Purpose Vehicle that issued “shares” (certificates, bonds, whatever you want to call them) to investors.
  • Those shares conveyed OWNERSHIP of the loan pool. Each share OWNED a percentage of the loans.
  • The so-called “trust” was merely an operating agreement between the investors that was controlled by the investment banking house through an entity called a “trustee.” All of it was a sham.
  • There was no trust, no trustee, no lending except from the investors, and no losses from mortgage defaults, because even with a steep default rate of 16% reported by some organizations, the insurance, swaps, and other guarantees and third party payments more than covered mortgage defaults.
  • The default that was not covered was the default in payment of principal to investors, which they will never see, because they never were actually given the dollar amount of mortgages they thought they were buying.
  • The entire crisis was and remains a computer enhanced hallucination that was used as a vehicle to keep stealing from investors, borrowers, taxpayers and anyone else they thought had money.
  • The “profits” made by NOT using the investor money to fund mortgages are sitting off shore in structured investment vehicles.
  • The actual funds, first sent to Bermuda and the caymans was then cycled around the world. The Ponzi scheme became a giant check- kiting scheme that hid the true nature of what they were doing.
April 24, 2010

Goldman Sachs Messages Show It Thrived as Economy Fell

By LOUISE STORY, SEWELL CHAN and GRETCHEN MORGENSON

In late 2007 as the mortgage crisis gained momentum and many banks were suffering losses, Goldman Sachs executives traded e-mail messages saying that they were making “some serious money” betting against the housing markets.

The e-mails, released Saturday morning by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, appear to contradict some of Goldman’s previous statements that left the impression that the firm lost money on mortgage-related investments.

In the e-mails, Lloyd C. Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, acknowledged in November of 2007 that the firm indeed had lost money initially. But it later recovered from those losses by making negative bets, known as short positions, enabling it to profit as housing prices fell and homeowners defaulted on their mortgages. “Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess,” he wrote. “We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts.”

In another message, dated July 25, 2007, David A. Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, remarked on figures that showed the company had made a $51 million profit in a single day from bets that the value of mortgage-related securities would drop. “Tells you what might be happening to people who don’t have the big short,” he wrote to Gary D. Cohn, now Goldman’s president.

The messages were released Saturday ahead of a Congressional hearing on Tuesday in which seven current and former Goldman employees, including Mr. Blankfein, are expected to testify. The hearing follows a recent securities fraud complaint that the Securities and Exchange Commission filed against Goldman and one of its employees, Fabrice Tourre, who will also testify on Tuesday.

Actions taken by Wall Street firms during the housing meltdown have become a major factor in the contentious debate over financial reform. The first test of the administration’s overhaul effort will come Monday when the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is to call a procedural vote to try to stop a Republican filibuster.

Republicans have contended that the renewed focus on Goldman stems from Democrats’ desire to use anger at Wall Street to push through a financial reform bill.

Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and head of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said that the e-mail messages contrast with Goldman’s public statements about its trading results. “The 2009 Goldman Sachs annual report stated that the firm ‘did not generate enormous net revenues by betting against residential related products,’ ” Mr. Levin said in a statement Saturday when his office released the documents. “These e-mails show that, in fact, Goldman made a lot of money by betting against the mortgage market.”

A Goldman spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Goldman messages connect some of the dots at a crucial moment of Goldman history. They show that in 2007, as most other banks hemorrhaged losses from plummeting mortgage holdings, Goldman prospered.

At first, Goldman openly discussed its prescience in calling the housing downfall. In the third quarter of 2007, the investment bank reported publicly that it had made big profits on its negative bet on mortgages.

But by the end of that year, the firm curtailed disclosures about its mortgage trading results. Its chief financial officer told analysts at the end of 2007 that they should not expect Goldman to reveal whether it was long or short on the housing market. By late 2008, Goldman was emphasizing its losses, rather than its profits, pointing regularly to write-downs of $1.7 billion on mortgage assets and leaving out the amount it made on its negative bets.

Goldman and other firms often take positions on both sides of an investment. Some are long, which are bets that the investment will do well, and some are shorts, which are bets the investment will do poorly. If an investor’s positions are balanced — or hedged, in industry parlance — then the combination of the longs and shorts comes out to zero.

Goldman has said that it added shorts to balance its mortgage book, not to make a directional bet that the market would collapse. But the messages released Saturday appear to show that in 2007, at least, Goldman’s short bets were eclipsing the losses on its long positions. In May 2007, for instance, Goldman workers e-mailed one another about losses on a bundle of mortgages issued by Long Beach Mortgage Securities. Though the firm lost money on those, a worker wrote, there was “good news”: “we own 10 mm in protection.” That meant Goldman had enough of a bet against the bond that, over all, it profited by $5 million.

Documents released by the Senate committee appear to indicate that in July 2007, Goldman’s daily accounting showed losses of $322 million on positive mortgage positions, but its negative bet — what Mr. Viniar called “the big short” — came in $51 million higher.

As recently as a week ago, a Goldman spokesman emphasized that the firm had tried only to hedge its mortgage holdings in 2007 and said the firm had not been net short in that market.

The firm said in its annual report this month that it did not know back then where housing was headed, a sentiment expressed by Mr. Blankfein the last time he appeared before Congress.

“We did not know at any minute what would happen next, even though there was a lot of writing,” he told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in January.

It is not known how much money in total Goldman made on its negative housing bets. Only a handful of e-mail messages were released Saturday, and they do not reflect the complete record.

The Senate subcommittee began its investigation in November 2008, but its work attracted little attention until a series of hearings in the last month. The first focused on lending practices at Washington Mutual, which collapsed in 2008, the largest bank failure in American history; another scrutinized deficiencies at several regulatory agencies, including the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

A third hearing, on Friday, centered on the role that the credit rating agencies — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch — played in the financial crisis. At the end of the hearing, Mr. Levin offered a preview of the Goldman hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

“Our investigation has found that investment banks such as Goldman Sachs were not market makers helping clients,” Mr. Levin said, referring to testimony given by Mr. Blankfein in January. “They were self-interested promoters of risky and complicated financial schemes that were a major part of the 2008 crisis. They bundled toxic and dubious mortgages into complex financial instruments, got the credit-rating agencies to label them as AAA safe securities, sold them to investors, magnifying and spreading risk throughout the financial system, and all too often betting against the financial instruments that they sold, and profiting at the expense of their clients.”

The transaction at the center of the S.E.C.’s case against Goldman also came up at the hearings on Friday, when Mr. Levin discussed it with Eric Kolchinsky, a former managing director at Moody’s. The mortgage-related security was known as Abacus 2007-AC1, and while it was created by Goldman, the S.E.C. contends that the firm misled investors by not disclosing that it had allowed a hedge fund manager, John A. Paulson, to select mortgage bonds for the portfolio that would be most likely to fail. That charge is at the core of the civil suit it filed against Goldman.

Moody’s was hired by Goldman to rate the Abacus security. Mr. Levin asked Mr. Kolchinsky, who for most of 2007 oversaw the ratings of collateralized debt obligations backed by subprime mortgages, if he had known of Mr. Paulson’s involvement in the Abacus deal.

“I did not know, and I suspect — I’m fairly sure that my staff did not know either,” Mr. Kolchinsky said.

Mr. Levin asked whether details of Mr. Paulson’s involvement were “facts that you or your staff would have wanted to know before rating Abacus.” Mr. Kolchinsky replied: “Yes, that’s something that I would have personally wanted to know.”

Mr. Kolchinsky added: “It just changes the whole dynamic of the structure, where the person who’s putting it together, choosing it, wants it to blow up.”

The Senate announced that it would convene a hearing on Goldman Sachs within a week of the S.E.C.’s fraud suit. Some members of Congress questioned whether the two investigations had been coordinated or linked.

Mr. Levin’s staff said there was no connection between the two investigations. They pointed out that the subcommittee requested the appearance of the Goldman executives and employees well before the S.E.C. filed its case.

The Emperor’s New Clothes: THOSE FORECLOSURES ARE NOT REAL FOLKS, GET IT?

NOW AVAILABLE on KINDLE/AMAZON

The Emperor\’s New Clothes: THOSE FORECLOSURES ARE NOT REAL FOLKS, GET IT?

1-in-10-u-s-mortgage-delinquencies-reach-a-record-high-going-up

The Emperor is still strutting around as though he was fully clothed in the best silk, color and design. Wall Street is still the darling of government and a whole lot of other people, even if it was a little bad these past few years. We’ve been through the part where the swindler’s came to town, where the government officials ashamed of their apparent blindness and ignorance raved about the new derivative innovations, and the parade of foreclosures based upon invisible clothes. But we have not arrived at the part in the story where the little child yells out that the old fool has no clothes on. And we still don’t hear everyone laughing at wall Street and sending them home to lick their own wounds instead of inflicting it on everyone else.

The swindlers are still in town selling invisible clothes to everyone gullible enough to buy nothing and call it something. We are running on vapor since 1983 when derivatives were zero. Now we have credit derivatives with a nominal value of somewhere over $500 Trillion — that is ten times the total money in circulation from government origins. That’s “nominal value” because they don’t exist and they have no value. There is no substance to them to the extent that they are based on secured debt and possibly all other debt. There is no mortgage, there is no note, although there might be an obligation. But if there is an obligation it probably has been extinguished by either set off for predatory “lending” (actually illegal sale of unregistered securities fraudulently masquerading as loan products) or extinguished by payment directly or indirectly from Uncle Sam, more investors or others. In this fairy tale (national nightmare), the swindler’s take over the government instead of sneaking out of town with their hoard of ill-gotten gains.

Think about it. If virtually ALL of the securitized residential mortgages that were originated for the last 10 years are in some sort of trouble, how much brain power does it take to conclude that there was something wrong with them to begin with?

If virtually ALL of the mortgage backed securities that were created and sold in the last 10 years went into default, how much brain power does it take to conclude that there was something wrong with them to begin with?

So if virtually all the transactions originating the source money and all the transactions that were funded from the source money went bad, how much brain power does it take to conclude that there was no substance to the transaction and that the whole thing was a fantasy from Wall Street, who are now strutting around with their pockets bulging with the all the money everyone else (investors and “borrowers”) lost?

I’ve been as gentle as I could, giving everyone a chance to catch up but we are now on the precipice of a cliff far deeper than anything we have seen before including one year ago. And nobody on the side lines is really getting it. We continue our march toward the edge of the cliff, push the ones in front off, in the hope or belief that we won’t ever get there. So here it is, my opinion to be sure, but anyone who has been following my writings since April, 2007 knows that I called the stock market crash, the credit freeze and the collapse of the world economies and why. So it’s not like I don’t have a track record. I wasn’t the only one and people with far more credibility than me spotted the same things and continue to scream bloody murder, “the emperor has no clothes!” See comments by Roubini, Krugman, Volcker et al.

  1. Geithner and Summers have to go. They are the emperor’s closest confidants who don’t want to look stupid even if it destroys the entire country. The current emperor is still on a learning curve so we have to cut him some slack. The prior ones, well….read on.
  2. The recession is real but most of it could be reversed by simply admitting the obvious: those derivatives have no value, the mortgages are mostly invalid, the notes are mostly invalid, and the obligations are mostly extinguished by the swindlers’ own chicanery with Federal bailouts and Credit Default Swaps, which were the cloth of the Emperor’s invisible clothes.
  3. The need for the AIG bailout can be argued. But nobody can argue that the people who benefited from it are the same people who got us into this mess. They took a system that was working and turned it into a system that couldn’t work. They turned mortgage lending on its head: mortgages that were likely to perform were valuable only as cover for most of the illegal activities underneath. The real incentive was to create mortgage pools that would fail and where they could collect on credit default swaps worth as much as 30 times the original nominal value. Vapor on Vapor.
  4. That means they have every motivation to make certain you go into default and no motivation whatsoever to modify, settle, allow short-sale or do anything for the benefit of a homeowner who wants to settle the matter honorably. You can’t do that when you are dealing with dishonorable people with motives that amount to acts of domestic terrorism. There is no talking to them because if they can get you to default on that $300,000 loan they probably are going to get paid $9,000,000 just on your default. How do you like them apples? Check it out. It is true.
  5. Any obligation — whether it is a loan for refinancing a house, buying a house, student loan, auto loan etc. that have the attributes discussed in this blog — does NOT have any security or note that can be enforced and all of them can be extinguished in bankruptcy — probably even including the nondischargeable student loans. (More on that another time).
  6. Therefore, much of the recession, all of the foreclosures and much of the lost wealth that is “missing” is legally, morally and ethically and in actuality and reality, a fantasy. Some 20 million homeowners or more with these residential mortgages securitized through a money laundering scheme are sitting on wealth they have been convinced they don’t have. But they do. Those houses are free and clear — legally, morally and ethically.
  7. All the homes in the MERS database are probably free from any encumbrance legally, ethically and morally. Trillions of dollars of wealth that is claimed as “lost” is still possessed by people who don’t know they have it and the game is on to make sure that if they ever figure it out it will be too late.
  8. Imagine the purchasing power in our consumer economy if the mortgage obligations and other obligations simply vanished. What would happen to the recession? What would happen to unemployment? What would happen to tax revenues without ever raising the rate of taxation? It would all self correct. And speaking of taxes, how about all those trillions of dollars in “fees” and “profits” that were sequestered off shore, never reported and thus never taxed? what would happen to the national and state deficits?
  9. All this is happening because the wrong people are controlling the conversation and most people are listening because the “experts” because they are so smart “must know better.” Consider me the child who yelled “But the Emperor has no clothes.” A million experts with long resumes, PhD’s and persuasive catch words can’t change the fact that the money laundering scheme of the last 10 years was clothed in “Apparent” legality but in substance was simply fraud perpetrated by people who were not any smarter or better than the common swindler. They did, however, have one ace in the hole — the Emperors were in on it. Maybe we have a chance with the current administration, maybe not.
  10. Unless we do something about this, we will suffer the indignity of decline into third world status as the wealthy few squeeze the life out of the rest of the country. Is this too extreme for you? Go to the International Money Fund website or the World Bank website or any other website or book that addresses basic economics. You won’t find anything different there. Just words, like these, with a little more polish and a little more academic tone, with the same message.


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