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DID GOLDMAN SACHS MANIPULATE JOURNALISTS AND STOCK PRICE ON SAME DAY AS SENATE TESTIMONY?

Mark Ames, co-editor of The eXiled, suggests Goldman Sachs’s tentacles extend even farther than we may have imagined. Mark’s thought-provoking articles, such as "Confessions of a Wall St. Nihilist: Forget about Goldman Sachs, our Entire Economcy is Built on Fraud" and "Fraudonomics: 10 Fun Fraud Facts" are published at Mark’s online home, The-eXiled, and at the NY Press’s Fraudonomics

The eXiled itself has fascinating history, being the second incarnation of The eXile, The eXile was a "Moscow-based English-language biweekly free tabloid newspaper, aimed at the city’s expatriate community, [combining] outrageous, sometimes satirical, content with investigative reporting" (wikipedia).  Vanity Fair described The eXile as subversive, “gutsy …direct, visceral… serious journalism… abusive, defamatory… poignant… paranoid." The written version in Russia was closed down in 2008. The online sequel lives on.  - Ilene 

DID GOLDMAN SACHS MANIPULATE JOURNALISTS AND STOCK PRICE ON SAME DAY AS SENATE TESTIMONY?

Courtesy of Mark Ames  

William Hogarth's print

A reader brought to my attention a new rumor going around about the strange behavior of Goldman Sachs’s stock price. On April 27, the day Blankfein was dragged before Congress to testify about fraud, Goldman’s stock rose–even though every other financial stock in the S&P 500 dropped, all 78 of them, on a day when the overall S&P average tanked 2.3 percent.

According to Bloomberg that day:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. had the only gain among 79 financial companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Indexas executives testified to a Senate subcommittee about mortgage securities.

Goldman Sachs advanced 0.7 percent to $153.04, while theS&P 500 Financials Index retreated 3.4 percent.

It’s an obvious question, just wondering if anyone has looked into this because as one reader wrote, “it makes no sense whatsoever.” Except as an expensive PR exercise funded by the bank’s insiders.

Whatever the case, that unexpected stock jump turned out to be wonderful news, the billionaires’ smackdown on all the resentful parasites trying to take down Goldman Sachs–this according to all sorts of media lickspittles who are rooting for Goldman. Here for example is The New York Daily News gloating over Goldman’s unexpected stock price rise:

I would be happy to let the whole United States Senate curse at me for just a fraction of the $2.8 million Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein made while he was testifying before a subcommittee this week.

The opinions of the senators carry so little weight that Goldman stock actually went up more than a buck, from $151.63 to $153.04, on a day when most of the market dropped.

And since, by one recent report, he owned 2,035,364 shares, Blankfein was getting more than $2.8 million richer even as he was being vilified.

Instead of reaching the obvious conclusion that something fishy was happening with Goldman’s stock, the columnist blocks out any whiff of journalist/investigator skepticism, and replaces it with the sort of free-market mysticism that was in vogue up until a couple of years ago: The rise in Goldman’s stock price means that the Gods approve of Goldman Sachs’ behavior… and Lloyd Blankfein is now recast as some kind of populist rebel sticking it to The Man, a capitalist whose only crime was doing business better than his competitors–which caught the attention of resentful looters and parasites in Congress:

However reprehensible Goldman Sachs may be, it made money when equally smarmy banks lost money.

And when the senators started cursing, it became all the more clear that they were playing to the TV cameras.

Big surprise! The politicians were playing politics.

The senators made no mention of their own role in the economic disaster, in allowing Wall Street to become a casino.

But enough people know about it.

And the politicians are the one group in this country held in even lower repute than bankers.

How in the fuck can anyone in their right mind draw any “meaning” from the corrupted world of stock prices after all we’ve learned the past few years–especially the stock price of a firm accused of all sorts of fraud, a firm that practically runs the US government?

What’s really depressing about this is that Daly is not alone. All sorts of business journalists from solid outlets like the Wall Street Journal andPortfolio.com came to the exact same conclusion as he did–and I gotta hunch how that happened.

One explanation for a spin like this (if we exclude telepathy) may have to do with the fact that Goldman has gone on a massive PR rearmament binge:

Goldman wages PR fight to clear its name

NEW YORK — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is fighting to clear its name, but not in a court of law.

Goldman has hit back hard against civil fraud charges with a public relations blitz aimed at poking holes in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s case and repairing the bank’s reputation. Every time the SEC has punched, Goldman has quickly counterpunched.

Public relations consultants say it’s too early to know if the strategy is working for Wall Street’s most powerful bank. Some big Goldman clients are publicly backing the firm, yet its stock has yet to recover from the double-digit nosedive that followed the SEC lawsuit on April 16.

To help its cause, Goldman has hired Mark Fabiani, a big player in the PR world with strong ties to top Democrats. Fabiani earned the nickname “Master of Disaster” for his handling of crises during the Clinton administration. He now works as a media consultant specializing in corporate crisis management. Goldman has also brought in top corporate attorneys. And its executives, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein, have been out in public, not hunkering down.

The damage control efforts will be on display Tuesday when Blankfein and Fabrice Tourre, the employee named in the SEC fraud charges, are questioned by a Senate subcommittee probing the bank’s role in the financial crisis.

So, where is all that PR cash going? I dunno. Hard to say. But in a media environment where a company’s stock gains and falls are spun as some kind of omniscient market verdict, if Goldman played with its stock price as a PR exercise on the most embarrassing PR day in the company’s history, it might result in media spin like this from the Wall Street Journal: Stock Suggests Goldman Sachs Winning The Day? in which blogger Matt Phillips gets into some hardcore journalistic forensics:

There are a few reasons why this could be.

For one thing, the fact that there’s no real legal implications to this hearing, other than it being a public drubbing. For another, the Goldman executives are coming off pretty well, generally keeping the rich-banker smirks to a minimum. And some on the Street are interpreting the move of the stock price pretty clearly. Here’s an email from a trader that came over the Journal’s transom:

“WITH THE GOLDMAN TESTIMONY NOW 3.5 HOURS OLD IT LOOKS LIKE THE GOLDMAN EMPLOYEES ARE WINNING…GOLDMAN STOCK IS ONLY MAJOR FINANCIAL STOCK UP ON THE DAY.”

Don’t ever let ‘em tell ya that you can pull a fast one on Matt Phillips! He knows the angles when he sees ‘em–especially when that story is sent to him by a Goldman Sachs guy with access to email (using the World Wide Web no less)!

goldman testify exiledonline

 

Phillips wasn’t the only maverick in the business-journalism world. TheAtlanta Constitution-Journal gave the plucky Rebs at Goldman a loud  Hoo-ah! headlined Goldman Up One:

Goldman stock ended the day up $1.01 – not bad – when you consider that the Dow Jones Industrials had their biggest drop in almost three months, going down 213 points.

In a sense, it was a good way to measure how Goldman Sachs did – as they survived their Senatorial Tongue Lashing, even as Senators landed a good number of jabs and body blows on Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and some of his past and present lieutenants.

Poor Mr. Blankfein taking those cheap shot body blows by those bullies–at least the neutral “market” referee stood by the scrappy underdog–if the market is with him, then you gotta figure Blankfein is the better guy of the two.

Portfolio.com agreed the following day with Goldman Wins Market Verdict, drawing the maverick conclusion that because “Goldman managed to avoid incriminating itself” before the Senate, “For that, the company was rewarded with a nice bonus. Its shares rose $397, or 2.59 percent.”

Everywhere you look, there’s this insane reverse-populist spin on the Goldman story, as if they’re the underdogs, as if they never fucked the entire country and the next three generations to come by tanking the markets, ruining the middle class, and then sucking out tens of billions in taxpayer bailout funds. Even my old friend Megan McArdle at the Atlantic Monthly tweet-attacked the Senate’s bullying and posturing:

Senator Levin seems to be angry that Goldman Sachs didn’t lose a bunch of money so they’d require a bigger bailout 1:17 PM Apr 27th via TweetDeck

Carl Levin is angry! Very angry! VERY ANGRY, DO YOU UNDERSTAND, VOTERS? VERY, VERY ANGRY.2:59 PM Apr 27th via TweetDeck

Lloyd Blankfein is very confused. He seems to think that Carl Levin is interested in the answers to his questions.3:04 PM Apr 27th via TweetDeck

Although to be fair, McArdle was too distracted shopping for a Washington DC house for herself and her ex-FreedomWorks fiance:

Grrr. Sounds like we may have lost another house to an all-cash offer. This is effing ridiculous 12:46 PM Apr 27th via TweetDeck

It’s good to know that business journalists have learned from their colossal fuck-up of the past decade, when they forgot to report the only story that mattered–the gigantic financial bubble that laid waste to America and the world. Just like Goldman Sachs and all the bailout queens on Wall Street, business journalists learned from that all right–they won’t ever make that mistake again, no siree. Seriously, we can all sleep better now.

So long as we all have Ambien (generic). If we’re out of Ambien, we might find ourselves asking some questions, like: how exactly is Goldman’s massive PR campaign money being spent, and on what? Does PR have anything to do with the strange stock price spike, and the subsequent spin on how the stock price rise vindicated Goldman, a spin so seamlessly repeated all over the media? (And if they did manipulate the stock price and pay off people in the media, is it a criminal matter or just a civil matter?)

One guy who might have some insight into all this is Henry Blodget, the Eddie Haskell-lookalike who was banned for life by the SEC for committing fraud while at Merrill Lynch…and who then reinvented himself in the only profession with lower ethical standards than investment banking: business journalism. Blodget–a prominently featured cross-poster on The Huffington Post– now runs a popular business website called Business Insider (Bloomberg TV recently called Blodget “The king of the blogosphere!”) You gotta figure, if you’d been hired to handle Goldman’s PR campaign and you wanted to “poke holes in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s case,” you might want to talk to a guy like Blodget.

365519 01_BLODGET

Henry Blodget: If Eddie Haskell’s face was used as Space Shuttle re-entry heat tiles…

As soon as he heard about the Goldman Sachs lawsuit, Blodget got struck with a case of “crusading journalism” fever–what Mumia was for progressives and hippies, Goldman Sachs is for Henry Blodget. From the moment the SEC announced their fraud suit against Goldman Sachs, Blodget went into hysterical graphomania overdrive, poking holes in the SEC’s case just like Goldman’s PR campaign hoped to do. Here are the headlines to just a few Henry Blodget posts in the hours after the SEC lawsuit announcement:

Lack Of Fast Response From Goldman Suggests SEC Sucker-Punched The Firm (in which he falsely argues that poor Goldman got blind-sided by a bullying, cheap-shot-mad SEC)

FRAUD FALLOUT: Fabrice Tourre Is Toast, Goldman Will Be Fine (in which Blodget argues that the SEC case “seems very weak” and there are no “screaming smoking guns”…)

* and, HOLD EVERYTHING: The SEC’s Fraud Case Against Goldman Seems VERY Weak in which Blodget pretends to have done an unexpected 180 degree turn in mid-disinterested-research, waving his hands to “hold everything” and stop the presses because he came to a sudden unexpected conclusion: “The case against Goldman seems much less clear cut than the press and SEC are making it out to be.” Yup, those look like holes he’s punching in the SEC’s case all right.

That was all on Friday, April 16, and Blodget was just warming up. Early the following morning, at 8:18AM on Saturday–while most of us were still sleeping off our prescription drug hangovers or watching old reruns ofHong Kong Phooey–Blodget was hard at work defending Goldman Sachs with headlines like: WOW — Is This Why The SEC Announced The Goldman Fraud Charges Friday Morning?

Wow. Gollee Sarge! Why I Nevuh In My Life!

Blodget has been banned for life from the securities industry, and yeteven he was shocked by the injustice of it all. Wow. I’m convinced now.

An hour after his “Wow!” Blodget followed up with: Goldman Has Three Things Going For It In The SEC Fraud Case — And One Big Problem.  And then another half hour later: One Part Of The SEC’s Fraud Charges Against Goldman Is Laughable.

Ha-ha-ha! You make me laugh, SEC, with your silly fraud charges–you who banned me for life for fraud, we’ll see who laughs last!

You’d think Blodget would take a day of rest on Sunday, just as Yahweh commanded… But seriously ask yourself–does injustice take a day of rest off? Mumia’s supporters might spend their Sundays getting baked and playing hacky sack, but not a Goldman Sachs supporter like Blodget, who posted over half a dozen pieces defending Goldman, including: Here’s The Disclosure The SEC Wanted: Would It Really Have Made A Difference? in which Blodget argues that poor Goldman can’t get a fair hearing even with all the evidence in their favor that Blodget cites. You’d think after the 60s and all that, this couldn’t happen anymore–but the sad truth is, a Wall Street bailout billionaire can’t get no justice in this country.

And on Blodget rolls, spinning Goldman’s story…right up to April 27, the day that Goldman was hauled before the Senate to answer for its fraud schemes. Maybe what bothered Blodget so much that day was how Sen. Carl Levin kept repeating the word “shit” as in emails from Goldman people admitting they sold their own clients “one shitty deal.” That’s called fraud. Which must have brought back memories of Blodget’s own emails that the SEC discovered, in which Blodget promoted companies he privately called “shit” and “crap.” The similarities between Blodget’s fraud and Goldman’s: It’s just so…uncanny.

So the very same day that the Senate was publicly reading out emails in which Goldman mocked its clients for buying “shit,” Goldman’s stock defied all common sense (and every other financial stock) by rising. And wouldntcha know it, Blodget announced that Goldman’s stock price jump was proof that… politicians can’t be trusted! The very same conclusion as the Wall Street JournalNew York Daily NewsPortfolio and the rest. Again, no one even suspects a PR stunt, fraud or manipulation that pushed up the stock price, everyone assumes that the “market” operates pure and uncorrupted, despite the events of the past few years–they assume that Goldman’s price rise was the result of a mass of totally rational, disinterested parties who each came to the same rational conclusion when they decided where to put their money: the politicians are liars, not Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Stock Up As Market Realizes Senators Are Just Full Of Hot Air

Henry Blodget | Apr. 27, 2010, 2:13 PM

Goldman Sachs (GS) stock is up $2+ as the rest of the market crashes.

But wait.  How can this be happening?  It’s Public Humiliation Day!  Goldman’s executives are getting chewed into ground beef on live TV! (And they really are).  How can the stock be going up?

The stock is going up because the market is breathing a collective sigh of relief that Congress didn’t actually find anything truly incriminating.  Public humiliation makes great entertainment.  But by tomorrow afternoon, it will mostly be forgotten.

Atta boy, Goldman! Stickin it to The Man! The Senate just wanted to “humiliate” Blankfein (except when they’re doling out $23 trillion in bailout money). The market, in its purely neutral wisdom, decided this one all on its own, and there’s no reason whatsoever to suspect anything fishy. The market punished the Senate, not insider trading and PR sleaze.

New post-bailout aphorism: He who’s laughed at spends shitloads of taxpayer money buying a crowd of reporters so that this “He” laughs last.

Anyone with any insight into this strange Goldman Sachs stock price spike, please write to us at: tips at exiledonline dot com.

Addendum: Just in case you find yourself feeling the slightest twinge of empathy for Goldman Sachs, re-read this article about what Goldman’s executives are really like, through their better halves:

Goldman Sachs Wives Hate To Wait

August 5, 2009

GOLDMAN Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein has warned his employees to avoid high-profile spending, as The Post reported — but his wife evidently didn’t get the memo.

Laura Blankfein and her friend Susan Friedman, wife of another Goldman honcho, Richard Friedman, caused a huge scene at Super Saturday in the Hamptons last weekend when they arrived at the event before the noon start time and balked at waiting in line with the other ticket-holders.

“Their behavior was obnoxious. They were screaming,” said one witness. Blankfein said she wouldn’t wait with “people who spend less money than me.”

Another observer said the women were so impatient, it was as if they were waiting on line for a kidney transplant instead of a charitable designer clothing sale.

Friedman shouted at the event organizer, “You have lost so much money because of this . . . Why should we be treated like the $650 donors?”

That was the Murdoch-owned New York Post last year, before the big Goldman Sachs PR push went into high gear.

But oh how things have changed: this week, the Post has a different attitude about who the heroes are, and who the villains are:

Treated Like Crap

Embarrassed politicos and angry Wall Streeters yesterday denounced the “shi- -y” way Sen. Carl Levin and other senators treated Goldman Sachs executives testifying before Congress this week.

“He turned the Senate proceedings into an episode of ‘Jersey Shore’ — a lot of yelling, expletives flying and no conclusion,” a Republican aide said. “Levin sounded more like Snooki after a night out than a senator.”

“It was Congress at its worst,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), adding that he was shocked when he first heard the curses Tuesday from Levin (D-Mich.), who spewed the word “shi- -y” 18 times during the hearing.

“I thought, ‘What is he doing? Why is he doing that?’ ” Hatch said. “I thought Senator Levin did a yeoman job of trying to get over his point.”

ny post snooki_levin

 

That’s the news dept; over in the opinion dept, Post columnist Charles Hurt dwelled on the exact same PR-generated talking points as McArdle and the rest, diverting all the anger away from Goldman’s fraud and bailout theft, and towards Congress’ hypocrisy and Carl Levin’s potty mouth, in his column “Congress’ Posturing Hypocrites Full Of It“:

Carl “Shi- -y Deal” Levin knows one when he sees one.

And when he finds a shi- -y deal, he likes to repeat “shi- -y deal” again and again and again. Eighteen times, to be exact.

Casual observers may have been startled to hear a United States senator — complete with silver comb-over and half-glasses perched on the end of his nose — repeatedly say “shi- -y deal.”

…Taxpayers — pitchforks in hand — should hold a hearing and grill these senators along the very same lines.

Here is the difference between Goldman and Congress:

Goldman may be trying to sell ice to Eskimos, but nobody is making the Eskimos buy it. With Congress, either you give them your money or you go to jail.

Who the fuck ever equated Goldman’s fraud with “selling ice to Eskimos?” Even Charles Hurt isn’t selling ice to Eskimos–he’s selling rat shit to New Yorkers.

*****

Mark Ames is the founding editor of The eXile and co-editor of The eXiled. His articles have appeared in The Nation, Playboy, Daily Beast, Alternet, Radar, The New York Press, and elsewhere. He is the author of “Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond” which became the basis of the critically-acclaimed 90-minute BBC documentary film“Going Postal”; and Ames is co-author with Matt Taibbi of the book “The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia.” Ames has made several guest appearances on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, along with radio appearances on Dylan Ratigan’s ABC radio program; radio spots on Chuck Mertz’s “This Is Hell” show, Scott Horton’s “Antiwar.com Radio” show, Michelangelo Signorile’s radio show, KFPK radio, Air America and elsewhere. He is currently at work on a new book for Wiley.

See also: 

VANITY FAIR PROFILES THE EXILE: “GUTSY …DIRECT, VISCERAL… SERIOUS JOURNALISM… ABUSIVE, DEFAMATORY… POIGNANT…PARANOID…AND RIGHT!” in Lost Exile, Vanity Fair.  - The story of the demise of "The Exile."  

Sample articles by Mark Ames at The eXiled:

CONFESSIONS OF A WALL ST. NIHILIST: FORGET ABOUT GOLDMAN SACHS, OUR ENTIRE ECONOMY IS BUILT ON FRAUD

EXPOSING THE RIGHTWING PR MACHINE: IS CNBC’S RICK SANTELLI SUCKING KOCH?

IS LARRY SUMMERS TAKING KICKBACKS FROM THE BANKS HE’S BAILING OUT?

Books by Mark Ames:

The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia, by Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi.

Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine, by Mark Ames. 


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