By the summer of 2006, Goldman Sachs executives realized that the subprime mortgage market and its related securities were headed for a fall, “a very unhappy ending” as senior trader Michael Swenson wrote in a 2007 memo. They also knew their firm was heavily invested in this ticking time bomb.
What to do? The solution from Typhoid Lloyd (Blankfein) and the Goldman gang? Let’s find some suckers to dump this trash on, tell them it’s treasure, bet on it to fail, and rake in the dough.
And rake it in they did.
“The firm, which had profited handsomely off packaging and selling securitized subprime home mortgages to investors during the housing boom, switched directions in early 2007, furiously shedding its home mortgage-linked risk and buying as much insurance as it could, effectively shorting the market throughout the year — a move that netted the firm “billions and billions” at the expense of its clients, according to the documents released by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
The firm was “spreading the poison throughout the system,” Levin charged.
“Goldman Sachs made billions of dollars from betting against the housing market, and it placed those bets in some cases at the same time it was selling mortgage-related securities to its clients,” said the committee’s chairman, Carl Levin (D-Mich.).”
Poison is the sanitized version. Goldman exec Tom Montag put the appropriate tag on it:
“One particular security, named Timberwolf I, a collateralized debt obligation of other collateralized debt obligations that were based not on actual home mortgage bonds but instead on those bonds’ movements, lost 80 percent of its value within five months of issuance. A senior executive…remarked in a June 22, 2007, email, “Boy, that timberwolf was one shi**y deal.”
Which is precisely what Goldman’s clients got—one shi**y deal.