Goldman Sachs: Thank You Mr. President
Dear Mr. President,
This should prove a challenging week on the PR front for us at Goldman Sachs. There are a few situations surfacing for which appropriate clarification will provide you sufficient context in the event that the inevitable questions arise. We also have a couple of suggestions.
Regarding this nastiness of the past week, please do not be too concerned about all this talk surrounding our super high-speed fully automated transaction processors. Also please understand that they are our future. Admittedly, we are enamored with the technological prowess we have acquired. Don’t believe those jealous rumors coming from begrudging low-level corners of the financial community, whining about our “edge.” We run a clean and very efficient business that can withstand any scrutiny. Our company represents about one quarter of all program trading on the NYSE. We realize you are not familiar with our business or what we do, but just know that the billions in valuations that represent our daily trades require extremely fast, exceptionally complex algorithms running on the largest, and fastest processors money can buy, with as close proximity to the NYSE as is physically possible. This is part of our multifaceted long-term strategic plan.
This business is not for the feint of heart. We take risks, but attempt to minimize our exposure. That’s all. Don’t listen to noises suggesting that we make money on trades even when we buy and sell at the same price levels to ourselves. Everyone in the business is familiar with our fee structures. What’s a half penny a trade anyway? Nothing. There is no magic. As for front running orders with our faster than light system on stocks or options, well, that is just not the way we work, and it’s not even legal, is it? We’ll get back to you on that. In these difficult times people can become very excited, and reactive to unwarranted rumors. Pay no attention to hearsay coming from bottom feeders. … Front running indeed.
Thank the guys at Justice and the FBI for being so quick to respond, and picking up that frustrated dancer, Sergey Aleynikov. Stealing secret algorithms should be punishable by incarceration for life. Oh, could you check into what’s wrong with that judge who let him out on bail? Bail should be revoked. This is a matter of grave concern, and is of National import. As we said, someone could get a hold of this program and use it to manipulate the markets. OK, not “manipulate,” so much as harm the markets. We would never manipulate of course, but someone else certainly could. This is no superficial matter. This breach and the whole episode must be snuffed out before it develops any legs. This is no time to demonstrate any sign of weakness or lethargy in addressing such a heinous affront to the intellectual property at the deepest core of our business, and in some ways, the characterization of its essence.
You should see what we pay the guys like Sergey who develop and run our systems. It takes half a million a year to get them out of bed, but we tie them up for life with more legalese than they can understand. No matter what precautionary measures are implemented, there always has to be one that must feed a need we can’t fill and he becomes an abomination, turning to criminal activity.
On other matters, thank you for keeping those lovable and sleepy bureaucrats at the SEC off our backs. We also have to express our sincere gratitude for leaving the AIG dogs to die without clamor. Our involvement was very profitable, but if it had surfaced too visibly, the exposure would have been embarrassing. Our boy Tim is pretty slick isn’t he? He left all the folks in place at AIG who rode that trick pony over the abyss. Amazing talent. Keep him in the job for another year, or two, won’t you? Make sure the billions in bailout checks are cashed before sending him to Paris as ambassador. We need to make sure our friends on the Street are still standing. Competition is good for us, to a certain extent. The smaller fish keep prying eyes busy.
On a sadder note, we feel really bad for the Iceland economic implosion, but hey, we didn’t force them to buy our derivative packages. We sell what we can to make money. They had cash that needed to find a home, and we obliged.
We should point out that operating speculative derivative or futures markets outside the bounds of national or international oversight is fundamentally critical and necessary given the world we now live in. How else could we possibly continue to take advantage of events and situations around the globe unfolding at lightning speed and impacting the fluctuations in such things as commodities or financial instruments. You can get more background on this from Tim, but being nimble in a rapidly changing environment is critical to success. Nothing moves faster than money flowing over electronic waves. Agility is part of our very survival.
Naming our colleague Philip Murphy to an ambassadorship in Germany is a nice touch, which should provide our firm with a very friendly ear on governance in the EU at a time when these countries are fighting over each other’s relative “tax advantages.” What a bunch. They’re killing capitalism with their policies. You can’t find a real capitalist over there anymore. Everyone is an employee, from the Chairman to the clerk, no one is an owner, and everybody waits for a paycheck and the year-end bonus. What’s this world coming to?
Speaking of bonuses, you will be hearing some announcements about our historically large earnings for fiscal 2009, which means it is once again bonus time. The numbers might sound really big, really, really big, but keep in mind that we have top-notch employees we aim to retain in branches spread around the world. If we didn’t provide them ample compensation, they would leave for greener pastures. Do you recall when we told you that about the AIG bonuses, and after a few days you succumbed to pressure, making some angry statements about … well you remember, let’s not have a repeat of that sordid week, shall we. We’re putting aside billions to cover all benefits and compensation, so we are good to go. We are simply in great shape. You should be pleased that at least one company in this country really has its act together. This will in turn enable us to be of help to others as we all weather the economic storm together. Do us all a favor and ignore the squawking.
We might point out that California needs a visit. They’re cracking at the seams in Sacramento. Tell Arnold we said hello, and we’ll see what we can do to help out in a few weeks when we get around to it. He’s not hurting badly enough yet. We’ll wait till they repossess his state issued limousine, at which point we’ll have a chat. Don’t you find his IOU business hilarious? Those Californians are just a little too arrogant, thinking all trends start in the West, and all innovation starts there. We like your attitude, or is it Timmy’s, on holding off and making them sweat before sending in the bailout team. What a day that will be. Bailing out a bankrupt State with bailout money created by debt financing.
Please continue to demonstrate insouciance toward rising unemployment which we believe is heading to 11%. Such distractions can be disquieting and being President requires a clear mind, … so many decisions, so much to learn, so many speeches to give, so many trips to take.
One final note to buttress against the reactionary comments from some invidious corners attacking us with “too big to fail,” accusations. Don’t listen to this jealous and frivolous drivel. We are a proud organization seeped in history and what is good for Goldman Sachs is good for America.
Mr. President, please just let the boys take care of that money supply expansion machine, and we will do our very best to manage its trade, efficiently and diligently. We will also endeavor to do our best to always find a home for your debt.
We know you are grateful for our past contributions, and likewise, we thank you for your continuing support in these emotional and turbulent moments.
Your Friends at G.S.
James Raider writes The Pacific Gate Post