Taibbi vs. Goldman

Looks like Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone piece is upsetting the delicate souls over at Government Sachs:

One official at the firm described the piece to The Post as “vaguely entertaining,” but purely fictional.

The bank’s spokesman, Lucas Van Praag, was more pointed: “[Taibbi’s] story is an hysterical compilation of conspiracy theories,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Notable ones missing are Goldman Sachs as the third shooter [in John F. Kennedy’s assassination] and faking the first lunar landing.”

“We reject the assertion that we are inflators of bubbles and profiteers in busts, and we are painfully conscious of the importance in being a force for good,” Van Praag added.

The issue has devolved into a bitter war of words between Goldman and Taibbi, who yesterday on his blog took another couple of shots at the venerable bank.

Really, it was just all a coincidence. They didn’t really get all that money funneled from the taxpayer through AIG. You all just imagined Hank Paulson at Treasury.

Keep pushing, Taibbi:

I asked if Goldman would have turned a profit in Q1 2009 if it hadn’t orphaned the month of December 2008. Then I asked if Goldman had made changes to its underwriting standards during the internet boom years; if Goldman’s position was still that the steep rise in oil prices last year was due to normal changes in supply and demand; and if it could explain its 1991 request to the CFTC to have its subsidiary J. Aron classified as a physical hedger on the commodities market. Citing various sources, I also noted that some people had complained that its move to short the mortgage market in 2006 even as it was selling those same types of instruments proved that the bank knew the weakness of its mortgage products, and asked if the bank had an answer for that. And I asked if the bank supported cap-and-trade legislation, and if it was fair to say (as we planned to in the piece) that the bank would capitalize financially if such legislation was passed.

I intentionally put a lot of yes/no questions on that list. If the underlying thinking behind any of those questions was faulty, it would have been easy enough for them to say so and to educate us as to the truth. Instead, here is the response that we got:

    “Your questions are couched in such a way that presupposes the conclusions and suggests the people you spoke with have an agenda or do not fully understand the issues.”

You have to have swallowed half a lifetime of carefully-worded p.r. statements to see the message written between the lines here. That this is a non-denial denial is obvious, but what’s more notable here is that they didn’t stop with just a flat “no comment,” which they easily could have done. No, they had to go a little further than that and — and this is pure Goldman, just outstanding stuff — make it clear that both I and my sources are simply not as smart as they are and don’t understand what we’re talking about. So the rough translation here is, “No comment, but if you were as smart as us, you wouldn’t be asking these questions.”

Every time I think of the sociopaths at Goldman, I am reminded of the business card scene from American Psycho.






31 replies
  1. 1
    inkadu says:

    “We are painfully conscious of the importance in being a force for good.”

    I thought this guy was doing a brilliant job — JFK assasination! moon landings! — until he said something so wildly implausible that faked moon landings seem believable in comparison.

  2. 2
    Zifnab says:

    Matt Taibi, are you implying that a multi-billion dollar investment firm, with former (and future) employees working in multiple branches of government and with lobbyists littering K-Street and with clients who themselves have former (and future) employees working in multiple branches of government and with lobbyists littering K-Street, and who have staffed themselves with some of the brightest minds in America in the goal to reap the highest profits imaginable from domestic and international markets, would have the capability and the desire to play the markets like a fiddle?

    Unpossible!

  3. 3

    And watching anyone start a war of words with Taibbi reminds me of the Bloom County arc where Steve and Opus learn Sean Penn is in town.

    Except you can sympathize with Dallas. G.S., not so much.

  4. 4
    Max Peck says:

    Is a ‘called out comment’ a good thing? If so WOOHOO ME!

  5. 5
    PeakVT says:

    we are painfully conscious of the importance in being a force for good

    Um, WTF? This is either gibberish or a masterpiece of mis-direction.

  6. 6
    SGEW says:

    From Taibbi:

    Lastly, he says that the bank is “painfully conscious” of the importance of being a force for good, which I noted with amusement is not quite the same thing as saying that that bank is a force for good, or wants to be.

  7. 7
    Legalize says:

    I don’t think this Goldman spokesperson was familiar with Taibbi’s work. “Force for good”? Yeah, Matt will just let that go without a raised eyebrow.

  8. 8
    stevelaudig says:

    So, this is Dallas. We are Kennedy and they are “not Kennedy”? Remember “Too Big To Fail”

  9. 9
    harlana pepper says:

    If there is one thing Matt Taibbi is NOT is a conspiracy theorist.

  10. 10
    whatsleft says:

    How long will it take Taibbi to get the grease out of his hair from the GS pat on his head?

  11. 11
    gbear says:

    I picked up the dead tree version of Rolling Stone at the drug store last night, but I put it back in the rack because I couldn’t bring myself to spend $6 on something that featured The Jonas Brothers as the cover story. Sorry Matt, but the magazine you work for looks like a tween tabloid.

  12. 12
    Ramalamadingdong says:

    The best part of the You Tube clip was the ad placement for business cards.

  13. 13
    Paul in KY says:

    I wondered where Ari Fleisher had gone to practice his particular brand of odious ‘newspeak’. Now I know, working for the Ministry of Giving (also known as Goldman Sachs)

    Also, it needs to be made illegal for a company to ‘orphan’ a month when reporting profits/losses. WTF!

  14. 14
    Instantly Moderated Commenter says:

    btw, for th’ pirates in th’ audience, Taibbi’s RS article was pirated and posted here

    no jonas brother was harmed in the copying and pasting of the material

  15. 15
    gbear says:

    no jonas brother was harmed in the copying and pasting of the material

    What a shame.

  16. 16
    flukebucket says:

    Taibbi kicked ass in that article. It should be required reading.

  17. 17
    Persia says:

    @gbear: The local Wal-Mart is selling bags with Rolling Stone covers. I was tempted to buy the Hendrix one but it was right next to the Jonas Brothers bag and I managed to curb the impulse. Thanks, Jonas Brothers, you saved me $12!

  18. 18
    The Other Steve says:

    I’m skeptical of Taibbi. I think he’s entertaining, but I’ve read a number of his pieces in the past, much of it in The Nation and so on where his take was based on an interpretation of events which was seen through colored glasses.

    And that is what makes him entertaining, that he attacks perceptions… But it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s right.

    That being said, it’d be pretty naive to not believe Goldman Sachs is smart enough to make money on the way up and on the way down. I wish I was so smart.

  19. 19
    gbear says:

    That being said, it’d be pretty naive to not believe Goldman Sachs is smart enough to make steal money on the way up and on the way down.

    Good work if you can sleep at night…

  20. 20
    Onkel Fritze says:

    Notable ones missing are Goldman Sachs as the third shooter [in John F. Kennedy’s assassination] and faking the first lunar landing.

    So Goldman Sachs knows something about the second shooter. Interesting.

  21. 21
    Belvoir says:

    Taibbi impresses me immensely, he’s too good for the likes of internet-hostile Rolling Stone. I could see him at Vanity Fair someday, there’s a mag that knows articles like this get buzz, and eyeballs, at articles like this, something people are talking about.

  22. 22
    jwb says:

    Every time you mention the JFK shooting and/or faked moonlanding in connection with this story, Goldman wins. The PR people are not dumb and they planted these shiny objects in their response for a reason. Just saying.

  23. 23
    binzinerator says:

    I wonder how long Tiabbi has at Rolling Stone.

    With the money and power and connections that GS has, they can twist a lot of arms. They’ll find a way to twist RS’s arm too. They’ll wait until the hoopla dies down then Tiabbi will get the Froomkin treatment.

    If you really believe what Tiabbi was saying, if you even think half of what he has said about GS is true, then why wouldn’t they do something like that?

    If no one else picks up the GS bubble story, I’ll say Tiabbi will be forced out in 5 months.

  24. 24
    Anne Laurie says:

    “we are painfully conscious of the importance in being a force for good”

    Um, WTF? This is either gibberish or a masterpiece of mis-direction.

    People are always lecturing GS flaks that they should be “a force for good”. The hectoring gives the flaks a continual low-grade Pain in the Arse.

  25. 25
    binzinerator says:

    @binzinerator:

    I’m gonna say Tiabbi will be fired from his RS gig by Christmas.

    That’s about one Froomkin Unit from now (A Froomkin is the period of time the vast rightwing conspiracy lets elapse before acting to marginalize its critics without making it look too obvious).

    Funny how a Froomkin Unit is damned close to a Friedman Unit.

  26. 26
    burnspbesq says:

    Not to be an apologist for Goldman, but …

    1. The firm and its partners give, rough guess, tens of millions of dollars to an amazingly broad range of charitable organizations every year. If all they are doing is assuaging guilty consciences, then I say assuage away.

    2. I’ve worked with Goldman people on a number of projects, and the painful reality is that they ARE usually the smartest guys in the room. And if they aren’t the smartest, they will outwork everybody else.

    3. I’m still waiting for Taibbi to ask a question that isn’t a variation on “when did you stop beating your wife?”

  27. 27
    Josh Hueco says:

    I love Taibbi and his quippaptitude(?)…but he’s no Mencken. I appreciate having a liberal voice (Thomas Frank also comes to mind) in the msm that isn’t afraid to call bullshit. But I also wonder if a conservative reading Taibbi would be persuaded by his arguments.

  28. 28
    DFS says:

    Tens of millions to charity. That’s…uh…a few thousandths of the $13 billion they got shoveled through the AIG bailout? I might have misplaced the decimal point, though, all those zeroes are hard to keep track of.

  29. 29
    Thom Jeff says:

    re: burnspbesq

    Just curious, which of these questions are a variation of “when did you stop beating your wife?” and are you saying that all of these questions ask GS to defend what they have not done? (Oh and BTW, “tens of millions” is nothing to these “smartest guys in the room,” who basically “earn” their money by manipulating markets and helping to destroy the middle class. Do they give more to charity or to the GOP?)

    I asked if Goldman would have turned a profit in Q1 2009 if it hadn’t orphaned the month of December 2008. Then I asked if Goldman had made changes to its underwriting standards during the internet boom years; if Goldman’s position was still that the steep rise in oil prices last year was due to normal changes in supply and demand; and if it could explain its 1991 request to the CFTC to have its subsidiary J. Aron classified as a physical hedger on the commodities market. Citing various sources, I also noted that some people had complained that its move to short the mortgage market in 2006 even as it was selling those same types of instruments proved that the bank knew the weakness of its mortgage products, and asked if the bank had an answer for that. And I asked if the bank supported cap-and-trade legislation, and if it was fair to say (as we planned to in the piece) that the bank would capitalize financially if such legislation was passed.

  30. 30
    IronyAbounds says:

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the Goldman Sucks people aren’t smart. But, smart does not necessarily mean good. I don’t think think the greedy bastards who drove the economy into the ditch weren’t aware of the problems they would cause, they just thought they could make tons of money before the problems arose. This country’s economic system is structured to allow financial folks to make a disproportionate amount of money. As a result, greedy bastards can cause a disproportionate amount of harm when they ignore the need to do good.

  31. 31

    […] See Also: Taibbi v Goldman Redux, We’re in Deep State, It’s Goldman Sachs’ Party And They’ll Profit If They Want To, and Taibbi vs. Goldman. […]

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