On October seventeenth (O17), a group of about 10 occupiers gathered outside 15 Central Park West, the address of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s multi-million dollar condo. Occupy Goldman Sachs was born. In the model of sleepful protests, they set up camp across from the building’s main gate. They brought sleeping bags, signs, food, cameras...and have not left the area since.
It’s now been over 40 days, and they are going strong. They have bounced around the building, to keep the NYPD on their toes and avoid bad weather. Arrests have been minimal and outreach has been phenomenal. The support from the neighborhood has been extremely positive, people are constantly stopping by with words of support and encouragement.
They decided as a unit to hold the space through Hurricane Sandy, and immediately after, people from the site were out in the many areas affected by the storm doing relief work. The site now doubles as an Occupy Sandy info hub, providing information on how to volunteer and donate to the high levels of foot traffic. The main location is at the corner of 61st St. and Broadway, deliciously across from a Chase Bank.
The case against Goldman Sachs is as simple as it is complex. The firm engages in practices we have not yet outlawed, but should. As Matt Taibbi wrote, “They [aren't] murderers or anything; they [have] merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye.” They place their former officials at the highest levels of financial power in positions around the globe, making it easier for them to sway politicians and influence policy. Just this week it was announced that a former investment banker from the firm will head the Bank of England. Mark Carney is the same man who, in 1998 led efforts to advise the Russian government on its economic recovery while his firm, Goldman Sachs, placed financial bets on the failure of the Russian economy
They lobby Congress to bail them out with taxpayer dollars, while having a major stake within the Federal Reserve. Currently, they are funding lobbying to slash and burn all social safety nets, all public resources, and all means in which we care for our communities.They sell complicated derivative products to their clients, products they often gamble against to always guarantee an upper hand. The Managing Directors and Partners of Goldman Sachs contribute millions to the major political parties, guaranteeing them an audience in the White House, no matter who wins. The CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, has become one of a few select spokespeople for the dominant corrupt corporate culture, and that was evident as he took the stand in 2010 in front of a Senate Subcommittee to defend himself from the grilling questions of multiple Senators. Despite the recommendation from Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) to the Department of Justice, for Goldman Sachs to be investigated and prosecuted for financial crimes, the firm remains unexamined and unregulated.
It is imperative for people to speak up and speak out against the pervasive corruption of our global economy at the hands of Goldman Sachs. We seek to expand the concept to cities where Goldman has tentacles/offices. We hope to see OGS London, OGS Boston, OGS Madrid and all the rest. We face a global epidemic of poverty, homelessness, and war, while Goldman Sachs lobbies to pocket $134 billion in resources from the countries in which they work.
Greg Smith, the ex-vice president of Goldman Sachs who resigned last spring after publishing a scathing op-ed about his former employers in the New York Times, has a new book out (“Why I Left Goldman Sachs”) and appeared on “60 Minutes” last night to talk to Anderson Cooper about it.
Smith said Goldman, like other firms, started several years ago to use client information to bet with its own money, sometimes against its own clients. Getting an unsophisticated client, he said, became the “golden prize” because the “quickest way to make money on Wall Street is to take the most sophisticated product and try to sell it to the least sophisticated client.”
Greg Smith: So what Wall Street will do is, they will approach one of these philanthropies, or endowments, or teachers' retirement pensions funds, in Alabama, or Virginia, or Oregon, and they'll say to them, "We have this great product that is gonna serve your needs." And it looks very alluring to these investors. But what they don't realize is that up front, they're immediately paying the bank two million dollars or three million dollars because of their lack of sophistication.
Anderson Cooper: So they don't say to the client: the price you're paying for us to execute this trade is a million dollars?"
Greg Smith: That's a huge part of the problem. Not at all.
Anderson Cooper: How can it be that the client doesn't understand what the bank is making?
Greg Smith: These are very complicated derivative securities which takes a Ph.D. in physics or in engineering to understand. And there are pension funds and mutual funds that represent people's 401(k)s and retirement savings that are trading the most complex instruments out there without fully understanding them.
Anderson Cooper: So, did the people you work with want unsophisticated clients?
Greg Smith: Getting an unsophisticated client was the golden prize. The quickest way to make money on Wall Street is to take the most sophisticated product and try to sell it to the least sophisticated client.
Goldman rejects Smith's accusations that the company puts its own interests ahead of its clients and conducted an internal investigation aiming to disprove the charges. Smith really abandoned Goldman because his superiors refused to promote him to managing director and more than double his salary to more than $1 million, the company says. Blankfein this month that he's "not really concerned about the book's revelations."
Smith said he "absolutely" would have left Goldman Sachs told CBNCs even if they had agreed to his promotion and salary increase. With his book completed, Smith doesn't yet know what his next move will be. "I was not doing this in order to get hired at another Wall Street bank."
"But that's exactly who Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer haven't been, exactly who Bob Khuzami at the SEC hasn't been. Instead of being fighters, they've been dealmakers and plea-bargainers. They've dealt out every major financial scandal, from Abacus to the Muni-bid-rigging cases (they prosecuted a few low-level guys at GE but let the big players at the big banks skate) to the Citigroup fraud settlement that was so bad a judge threw it back at the govenment's face. In that latter case, amazingly, the govenment is now fighting not for its constituents, but for its right to give out crappy deals to repeat-offender banks without judicial review."
FRONTLINE’s four-hour epic on the global financial crisis — the first two hours of which aired Tuesday evening — goes inside the struggles to rescue and repair a shattered economy, exploring key decisions, missed opportunities and the unprecedented and uneasy partnership between government leaders and titans of finance.
“Money, Power and Wall Street is demanding — this isn’t Finance for Dummies,” Evans writes in the review. “But it’s a compact and thorough lesson.”
In the first hour, FRONTLINE takes you inside the rapid rise of credit default swaps, including the voices of those who created them. With the real estate market booming, bankers successfully tweaked the credit default swap to bundle up and sell home mortgage loans to eager investors. But despite the money flowing into banks’ coffers, credit default swaps also loaded the financial system with lethal risk. And when the housing bubble burst, the credit default swaps — originally designed to stabilize the system — brought the global economy to its knees. Regulators, who had often stood on the sideline and allowed Wall Street to police itself, saw the ugly consequences rapidly unfold before them.
In the second hour, FRONTLINE investigates the largest government bailout in U.S. history, a series of decisions that rewrote the rules of government and fueled a debate that would alter the country’s political landscape. It offers play-by-play accounts of several secret meetings that permanently altered the financial system.
“The program feels fresh and vivid — and takes no prisoners,” writes Evans. “FRONTLINE finds plenty of blame to go around (Goldman Sachs and CEO Lloyd Blankfein take a particular bruising), but is most devastating in its dissection of the chummy collusion between bankers and the government leaders who should have been watch-dogging them.”
You can read the interviews at the heart of Frontline's "Money, Power, and Wall Street" online here.
"Money, Power and Wall Street" continues next Tuesday, May 1st, with an inside look at how the Obama administration, including a divided economic team, has handled the crisis and how the financial world has returned to many of the practices that created the meltdown in the first place.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein's compensation increased 14.5 percent to $16.2 million in 2011 despite a sharp decline in profits and share price during the year, leaving the bank open to more attacks on its pay policies.
Others at Goldman Sachs weren't so lucky. Since 2011, the financial giant has terminated at least 3,500 employees as well as reduced pay of others to cut expenses.
Across the country more than 2,700 companies are collecting state income taxes from hundreds of thousands of workers - and are keeping the money with the states' approval, says an eye-opening report published on Thursday.
The report from Good Jobs First, a nonprofit taxpayer watchdog organization funded by Ford, Surdna and other major foundations, identifies 16 states that let companies divert some or all of the state income taxes deducted from workers' paychecks. None of the states requires notifying the workers, whose withholdings are treated as taxes they paid.
General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and AMC Theatres enjoy deals to keep state taxes deducted from their workers' paychecks, the report shows. Foreign companies also enjoy such arrangements, including Electrolux, Nissan, Toyota and a host of Canadian, Japanese and European banks, Good Jobs First says.
"Job piracy" occurs when one state diverts taxes to lure an employer across state lines. AMC Entertainment announced a deal last year to move its corporate headquarters from Kansas City, Mo., to a nearby Kansas suburb. In return, Good Jobs First said, Kansas will let the multiplex chain keep $47 million of state income taxes withheld from its workers' paychecks, a drain on public finances that did not create any jobs, but does enrich the Wall Street firms that own AMC including arms of J. P. Morgan, Apollo Management, Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group. AMC declined to answer my questions.
If I lived in Missouri, I'd be more than a little unhappy to find out that my tax dollars were enriching Wall Street firms -- not to mention Mitt Romney's Bain Capital -- on a daily basis.
Two Goldman Sachs "clients" take a look at themselves after Greg Smith's New York Times op-ed in this musical puppet number. A parody of the Oscar-winning song "Man or Muppet" rewritten by author and law professor Frank Partnoy.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has begun scanning internal emails for the term "muppet" and other evidence that employees referred to clients in derogatory ways, Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein told partners in a conference call this week, according to people familiar with the call.
The company-wide email review comes after an executive director named Greg Smith resigned last week in a scathing op-ed column in the New York Times in which he said he saw five Goldman managing directors refer to clients as "muppets," at times over internal email.
In the United States, "muppet" brings to mind lovable puppets such as Kermit the Frog, but in Britain "muppet" is slang for a stupid person.
On the conference call with partners this week, Blankfein said the company was taking Smith's claims seriously and was conducting a review of his assertions, including the email scan, according to these people.
Goldman Sachs should also scan for Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. If they think the word "Muppet"is the issue, well then they just don't get it.