Matt Taibbi, the Rolling Stone writer who labelled Goldman Sachs a “vampire squid” in one of the defining stories of the financial collapse, has written another article on the Wall Street firm.
This one is potentially more devastating.
Taibbi argues that Goldman Sachs executives lied when they testified in front of Congress in the aftermath of the crisis. Unlike other commentators who grouse about how Wall Street execs should be tossed in jail, Taibbi actually provides specifics. He takes quotes from some of the Goldman execs who testified, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein and CFO David Viniar, and then juxtaposes them with what he believes to be the truth at the time.
And at least as Taibbi tells it, the statements do appear to be misleading, if not outright false. (See video below).
One of the biggest frustrations most people have about the financial crisis is that no one has yet been held accountable for it. In prior crashes–the S&L collapse, the 1987 crash, the dotcom bubble–prosecutors had a field day parading villains in front of TV cameras. And yet, this time, despite the financial crisis ushering in the worst recession since the Great Depression, no big shots have gone to jail.
Taibbi vents about this. He also observes that prosecutors have just brought massive, high-profile perjury cases against athletes like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, but apparently can’t or won’t do the same with Wall Street executives.
One explanation for this, of course, is that prosecutors don’t think the Wall Street execs are guilty of anything. But Taibbi thinks the explanation is more insidious: An institutionalized double-standard, stemming from the fact that many prosecutors and regulators someday hope to work at Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs.