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Would You Buy a Used Car From Lloyd Blankfein?

Posted by Larry Doyle on January 8, 2013 8:41 AM |

America awakes this morning with another 20 billion reasons not to trust those running our major financial institutions, our regulatory agencies, or those in Congress ultimately charged with overseeing them.

Wall Street’s merely paying of fines for activities (mortgage fraud) that by any measure would be defined as part and parcel of racketeering only serves to further erode what little trust the American public might still hold in these aforementioned entities.

Trust….what price does trust trade at? What value does it hold? Would you know it if you ‘saw’ it?  True trust comes without having to hedge or equivocate.

Why is it that seemingly many if not most CEOs of major businesses are able to achieve  that position?  Their ability to deliver messages and proclamations in a straightforward fashion while ‘skinning the cat’ in a manner that defies any sense of real trust. I see evidence of this reality once again this morning in a story highlighted by Blooomberg, Secret Goldman Team Sidesteps Volcker After Blankfein Vow,

Sitting onstage in Washington’s Ronald Reagan Building in July, Lloyd C. Blankfein said Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) had stopped using its own money to make bets on the bank’s behalf.

“We shut off that activity,” the chief executive officer told more than 400 people at a lunch organized by the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., slicing the air with his hand. The bank no longer had proprietary traders who “just put on risks that they wanted” and didn’t interact with clients, he said.

That may come as a surprise to people working in a secretive Goldman Sachs group called Multi-Strategy Investing, or MSI. It wagers about $1 billion of the New York-based firm’s own funds on the stocks and bonds of companies, including a mortgage servicer and a cement producer, according to interviews with more than 20 people who worked for and with the group, some as recently as last year. The unit, headed by two 1999 Princeton University classmates, has no clients, the people said.

The team’s survival shows how Goldman Sachs has worked around regulations curbing proprietary bets at banks.

A section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act known as the Volcker rule, drafted to prevent banks from taking on excessive risk, limits short-term investments made with firms’ capital.

The law doesn’t bar longer-term wagers.

“MSI is very much like a hedge fund,” said Ashkan Marsh, 30, who worked for the unit before leaving the firm in 2008.

Other former members refer to the team as a hedge fund.

At the lunch in Washington where Blankfein spoke, he was asked by private-equity billionaire David Rubenstein, co-CEO of Carlyle Group LP (CG), if Goldman Sachs makes the bulk of its profit from proprietary instead of client work. Blankfein, 58, said the firm no longer wagers its own money without client interaction.

Is that right, Lloyd?

Little wonder why people have such little trust in Mr. Blankfein, Goldman Sachs, Wall Street, financial regulators, and Washington.

Would you dare buy a used car from any of them?

Navigate accordingly.

Larry Doyle

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I have no business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

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