Friday, December 04, 2009

Music City, the Mayor, and the Vampire Squid

Perpetually flying under radar in this debate over Mayor Karl Dean's convention center is the reputation of the lead underwriter of the project, Goldman Sachs. Locals are so focused on the merits of the largest capital project in Nashville history that they haven't been asking about the ethos of the Wall Street firm vested with the mission of pulling more investors to the Music City Center. Those who should raise questions--the local mainstream media--have failed to, even though Goldman Sachs' greed is burning up the national headlines lately.

Here are a few significant points about Goldman Sachs that need to be known before we put our fiscal future in their hands:
  • Matt Taibbi on GS's historical role in market manipulations since the Great Depression:
  • The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased.
  • The Goldman Sachs CEO responded to popular anger that he was giving bankers and traders multi-million dollar bonus packages in the middle of an economic crisis caused in part by GS by suggesting that they deserved it because they were "doing God's work."
  • The investment bank attempted to put out the fire of criticism by promising to donate $500 million to 10,000 small businesses, but then strung those businesses (including East Tennessee's Master Model Craft, Inc.) along without following through.
  • Former GS executives spoke out that the pursuit of money was the exclusive focus of the investment bank.
  • Goldman Sachs hoarded H1N1 vaccines for its employees at a time when many local communities could not get them.
  • In spite of his acknowledgements of a crisis of confidence in Goldman Sachs, the CEO stonewalled shareholder attempts to reform the firm:
  • A [proposal to require disclosure of executive pay] was rejected last year with board opposing it.

    Chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said: 'It would create a cloud, a constraint, a limitation on decisions that have been at the heart of what a board has done.'

    Despite his opposition to greater transparency on pay and bonuses, Blankfein is only too aware that the Goldman name has been tarnished in recent months.

    Its 30,000 employees have enjoyed lavish rewards while millions of American have lost their jobs.
Since the Mayor proposes that Nashville climb into bed with Goldman Sachs, shouldn't we be more cognizant of the character we're under the covers with? And given Matt Taibbi's thick description of GS, should we be clutching our wallets while we're under there with them?
The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.
How can you read that and feel good about this project?

1 comment:

  1. You're criticizing Goldman based on the absurd Taibbi article? You don't honestly think that GS is behind every bubble in history? That's just paranoid nonsense.

    And claiming the hoarded H1N1 vaccine is simply incorrect. They got the vaccine because they asked for it (unlike many doctors in NYC). This is part of the standard way vaccines are distributed - they're sent out to numerous companies (not just Goldman) who then vaccinate high-risk individuals (e.g., pregnant women).