Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Glaring guilt repeated all over again.

The bank executives appeared before the Senate today. There were several of them sitting at the same table facing the Senators. They stood together with their hands raised for the oath to tell the truth. That scene reminded me of the big tobacco executives who did the same in front of a Congressional committee April 14, 1994, and then lied when all five were asked to state their take on nicotine being addictive. Each repeated "I believe that nicotine is not addictive." Later their own corporate documents stated it was addictive and all the men swearing it was not knew it was. Today the investment executives' testimony was broadcast on CNN. I watched it on my office computer, primarily just listened to the testimony as I did other things.

Most of these men were no longer working for Goldman Sachs, and spoke of what they recalled about the two deals that were investigated by the SEC. In particular the Senators were interested in e.mail published this week end by the New York Times, where their salesmen described the investment they sold to unsuspecting investors, as a "shit deal". Senators Carl Levine and Claire McCaskill said "shit" in their questions. I liked it that they said those words. I would have liked it if a Senator had said, "You are fucking thieves."

All the executives were asked if they felt they had any culpability in the crash of the markets and the losses investors had from buying these investments which they knew were "shit deals" from the beginning and while they sold them. Each said in a flurry of carefully crafted words they had no feelings of guilt for what they did. Their answers were basically what a 5 year old child says when their mom chastises them for lying, "Everybody else does it."

I wonder of these men have children. Are they raising those children to follow in their footsteps? How do they justify their actions to those they respect?

Current and former employees within Goldman Sachs' mortgage and derivatives divisions testify in front of a Senate committee - Daniel Sparks, Josh Birnbaum, Michael Swenson and Fabrice Tourre (from left to right).