Behind every bubble: Goldman Sachs

Rolling Stone launches a full-scale attack on the "giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity"

Published June 25, 2009 7:03PM (EDT)

Matt Taibbi is the Attila the Hun of contemporary journalism. He's not big on subtlety or nuance, but it is pointless to argue with the devastation and destruction left in his wake once he's rampaged his way through a story. And gosh, the flames sure are pretty. Taibbi's got an epic rant on Goldman Sachs in the current Rolling Stone, and while I don't agree with every denunciation in the piece, I found myself, like Felix Salmon, nodding my head more than I expected to.

I mean, who can argue with this?

In fact, at least $13 billion of the taxpayer money given to AIG in the bailout ultimately went to Goldman, meaning that the bank made out on the housing bubble twice: It fucked the investors who bought their horseshit CDOS by betting against its own crappy product, then it turned around and fucked the taxpayer by making him pay off those same bets.

I'm not sure that it's completely fair to blame Goldman Sachs for being the primary facilitator of the Great Depression, the dotcom and housing bubbles, the oil price spike, TARP bailout, and now, the imminent climate change cap-and-trade speculative bubble, but like Forrest Gump, there's definitely no question that Goldman was right there in the middle of every last one of these debacles, (if, in fact, that's what happens with cap-and-trade, which seems reasonable to assume.) And as I noted on Monday, there is something fundamentally, to borrow a Matt Taibbi favorite, fucked about the fact that Goldman Sachs is set to have its most profitable year ever while the global economy is in its worst shape since the Great Depression.

Again, I think fundamental longterm supply-and-demand issues had more to do with the oil price spike than Taibbi will concede, and I think Goldman Sachs is less the prime instigator in everything bad that has happened than it is merely the smartest shark on Wall Street at capitalizing on every goofy bubble and investor mania. But I have no argument with his default stance of suspicion and anger, or with his conclusion.

This is the world we live in now. An in this world, some of us have to play by the rules, while others get a note from the principal excusing them from homework till the end of time, plus 10 billion free dollars in a paper bag to buy lunch. It's a gangster state, running on gangster economics, and even prices can't be trusted anymore; there are hidden taxes in every buck you pay. And maybe we can't stop it, but we should at least know where it's all going.

Rolling Stone continues to keep some of its best features off the free Internet, but about 30 seconds of Googling will find you a scanned PDF. It's worth a read, but make sure you've taken your high blood pressure medicine first.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Goldman Sachs How The World Works Wall Street