Attention, Goldman haters, the Times has a big piece on Paulson’s interaction with his former company.
“I operated very consistently within the ethic guidelines I had as secretary of the Treasury,” Mr. Paulson responded, adding that he asked for an ethics waiver for his interactions with his old firm “when it became clear that we had some very significant issues with Goldman Sachs.”
Mr. Paulson did not say when he received a waiver, but copies of two waivers he received — from the White House counsel’s office and the Treasury Department — show they were issued on the afternoon of Sept. 17, 2008.[….]
During the week of the A.I.G. bailout alone, Mr. Paulson and Mr. Blankfein spoke two dozen times, the calendars show, far more frequently than Mr. Paulson did with other Wall Street executives.
On Sept. 17, the day Mr. Paulson secured his waivers, he and Mr. Blankfein spoke five times. Two of the calls occurred before Mr. Paulson’s waivers were granted.
All my friends in the finance world say two things about Paulson’s big decisions: (1) letting Lehman fail was catastrophically stupid and (2) the bail-out prevented a 1929-style meltdown. Former Lehman employees seem to believe that Paulson let Lehman fail in part because Goldman has always hated Lehman (their own hatred of Goldman likely colors their views, of course). Everyone believes that the bail-out benefitted Goldman immensely. In any case, whatever one thinks of the wisdom of Paulson’s moves, it’s a fact his two biggest decisions killed one of Goldman’s biggest rivals and used government money to enrich Goldman. One move was hands-off, the other was interventionist, but both benefitted Goldman.
I’m not a Goldman conspiracy theorist, but I can certainly see why a lot of people are.
Update. “Conspiracy theorist” may sound more derogatory than what I mean. (I don’t think of it as derogatory and describe myself as a “conspiracy theorist” about various things, including the Kennedy assassination and corporate ownership of media.) What I mean is that I’m not ready to go the full Taibbi when it comes to Goldman.