Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Goldman Sachs is Fed to a Tiger

Announcer: Hello everyone and welcome to another exciting edition of Fed To a Tiger! With your host ... Cougar!

[applause, Cougar enters stage right]

Cougar: Yeah here we are! I'm feeling great tonight. Great audience tonight thanks for coming everyone. Thank you thank you. You are too kind thank you everyone. Okay so you know why we're all here right? Gonna feed some smarmy tool to the tiger and everything like that. Everyone knows the drill. More to it than that however. See what we are going to do is ... oh you are going to love this! ... feed an entire corporation to the tiger!

[ooohs and aaaahs]

Cougar: Yeah sounds interesting don't it! Our very own Kahli is going to have a simple meal -- not much more than a snack really -- and in the course of doing so she is going to bring down one of the great icons of global financial bullshit. No less a light than ... Goldman Sachs! Yes that's right Goldman Sachs. So the reporters are in the audience, you guys are ready to report on this momentous occassion? Got your cell phones all warmed up? Great you guys are the best beers on me later. Okay Ben send in our sacrificial lamb.

Announcer: Representing Goldman Sachs -- Mr. Lloyd Blankfein!

[LB enters stage left]


Cougar: Have a seat sir. Thank you for joining us on Fed to a Tiger.

LB: It's great to be here. I understand there is some kind of business deal you would like to propose.

Cougar: A deal yes, though maybe more of a bet but you're going to love it. Our production company operates an investment subsidiary called Catattack Ventures LLC which recently entered into a very large series of contracts with your bank Goldman Sachs through its various shadowy subsidiaries and front companies. The gearing is quite attractive -- many trillions of dollars notional -- but the final cash value is $68. We just need you here on the set to make the deal valid. I assume you can take the $68 in small change?

LB: Sure that's fine. Sounds interesting please describe the deal.

Cougar: Well Mr. Blankfein what we've done is take out a few small bets at astronomical odds on whether or not you sir might be eaten by a tiger over a certain 24 hour period that is going to end in ... well let's see end in a little under 10 minutes from now.

LB: Eaten by a tiger? Me?

Cougar: That's correct sir. Sometime in the next 10 minutes.

LB: Seems unlikely.

Cougar: Unlikely yes. One might even say -- impossible. Just way out there. Obviously it's easy money for a big underwriter like Goldman Sachs, even at the odds. Easy pickings but shucks if someone wants to take out a silly insurance policy like that on Lloyd Blankfein then heck take their money right?

LB: I would, certainly.

Cougar: Even if it's regarding your own gruesome though seemingly unlike death by mauling.

LB: Sure why not. Easy money.

Cougar: You all heard him folks, he'll take the money at the odds. What a player! We were really counting on that being your attitude. And through the circular financial dealings of Goldman Sachs you have in fact taken out insurance on yourself against that exact unlikely scenario. But wait there's more! Through the miracles of rehypothecation, leverage and collaterization we were able to parlay $68 in loose change we found around bus stops and under sofas into a $3.2 trillion notional chain of insurance bets on the unlikely event of you sir being eaten by a tiger.

LB: By a tiger, in the next 9 minutes. Thank you for giving me your money, I will treasure it always.

Cougar: After everything settles it will have been $68 worth of profit. In small change. Means that much to you.

LB: Oh yes. Free money for me. I'll take it. And thank you for your business.


Cougar: Thank you sir for playing along. What a sport. Let's see we need to kill some time ... oh I know how about you tell us how Goldman Sachs makes money? By that I mean big money not $68 in loose change.

LB: Our bank acts as broker connecting clients on large deals, we make money in fees.

Cougar: By clients you mean muppets, right? I think that is the technical term used these days.

LB: Yes muppets if you prefer.

Cougar: In addition to fees for creating portfolios for clients you take out huge bets on how some of those very deals will fail later.

LB: That's allowed.

Cougar: Yes it is, very handy. Certainly people trust the good name of Goldman Sachs what could go wrong. You guys would never -- well let's say set up a portfolio for a client that you know will fail outright at some point and then take out insurance against that very event.

LB: I don't really know what that means. Could you ask the question another way?

Cougar: Would you rig a deal for a client to blow up on them, and then make a side bet that it would blow up as expected?

LB: I don't really see how that works. I guess I don't understand the question.

Cougar: Didn't mean to put you on the spot. Let's talk about Basis Capital shall we? Australian bank, bought into your "Timberwolf" deal. Your own managers knew Timberwolf was going to blow up yet you convinced Basis to buy $100 million US worth of smouldering ruin saying that their return on investment ought to be 60%.

LB: Might have been.

Cougar: In some parallel universe maybe. Your own people said and I quote -- boy that timberwolf was one shitty deal -- end quote.

LB: Might have worked out you never know.

Cougar: Sure given time, might have. But just sixteen days after you sold the deal on margin to Basis, you made a margin call against them for $37 million cold cash. Sixteen days, not much time to turn around that shitty deal you fisted them off with.

LB: That's allowed.

Cougar: Yes it is. And Basis Capital immediately went bankrupt as a result. Wait wait let me guess --  that's allowed.

LB: Yes it is.

Cougar: I get it I get it. Well played sir. So AIG goes bust during the 2008 financial meltdown too bad say good bye except -- no wait what is this! -- Goldman Sachs has an investment at risk. Happily former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson is the US Treasury Secretary so AIG get's bailed out by the tax-payers -- TARP was the biggest financial sector bailout in the history of money -- and that bailout money is funneled straight into Goldman Sachs who comes out ahead of everyone else. $13 billion large. I bet you liked that part.

LB: We had insurance on AIG so it didn't matter. But sure, why not.

Cougar: Insurance you say? Oh that reminds me -- how much time do we have left? Four minutes?

LB: Hmm -- I don't see any tigers either. You have that $68 on you?

Cougar: Yeah it's a long shot we know. Anyway moving on. In 2010 your firm settled a lawsuit brought by the SEC, wherein you were accused of fraudulently selling package deals labelled as investment grade to buyers without telling them the deals were known shitty and would blow up later. $550 million out of pocket on that one -- ouchie -- highest profile fraud case in US history. And you paid it. Wrote them a check.

LB: But the entire fine paid was only 5% of profits. And tax-deductable. We had already raked in the $13 billion on the AIG bailout caper, paying the $550 million took media attention off that at a useful time and made our friends at the SEC look good at nearly no overall cost to us. All said one of the best structured deals that year.

Cougar: Is that right! What a world. In the Abacus deal you pretended to select assets for the tranche to be sold to investors in a CDO, when actually you allowed John Paulson -- that name again I wonder if they are related -- allowed John Paulson to select the assets he wanted in it, in particular really nasty shit that would blow up quickly. Then having lit the fuse Johnny took out insurance against the expected explosion. Goldman made money on the deal, Hanky Panky Janky Paulson collected on his insurance, and who knows how many investors had their faces ripped off. Would you care to comment on that?

[LB & Cougar together]: That's allowed.

[applause and laughter]

Cougar: The audience is getting a kick out of this, Lloyd. So on account of all these kinds of shady shenanigans Goldman Sachs has been described as -- and I will quote Matt Taibbi here -- a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.

LB: You're not going to stiff me for the 68 bucks are you?

Cougar: Oh now I see how it is -- never cheat a cheater isn't that it? 

LB: I prefer it that way yes. Well I think the time is up, your insurance has lapsed. Pay me.

Cougar: You know what that clock runs a little fast. Ah and there's my girl now.

[tigress Kahli walks on stage right]

[thunderous applause]

Cougar: [scratching Kahli on head] How's Kahli tonight huh is she hungry for some fresh bankster yes she is. So I think we have about 1 minute left here I just want to say thank you for joining us on the set tonight Mr. Blankfein.

LB: That's a tiger.

Cougar: Yes it is. Whodathunkit.

LB: You have an actual tiger show up to eat me with a few seconds to go. Quite a setup, I am genuinely impressed. Well done.

Cougar: You really think so? Oh wow I'm honored I truly am. Hey everyone you hear that Lloyd Blankfein liked my work! And he's probably the master at creating unnecessarily cruel, duplicitous, back-stabbing setups! I'm -- well thank you sir. That was very kind.

LB: Oh and look, with that it seems the time is gone and the deal is bust. Pay up chump.

Cougar: That clock is really fast. We have enough time for Kahli here to -- kill the mutherfucker!

[Kahli accelerates and hits LB in chair with a roar. screaming and sound of furniture breaking]

Cougar: Well she's quick about it let's give her that. From zero to completely insane in under two seconds. So is he dead? Is the fucker dead yet we're in a time crunch here. Can someone verify if he's a gonner?

Announcer: I think the contract with Goldman Sachs was that Lloyd be eaten by a tiger.

Cougar: Come on that's just a technicality. Oh hey you see that she's eating him. Are we in under the limit? We are?! Fantastic! Okay reporter types you do your thing.

[two dozen reporters running from studio toward phones in the lobby]

Cougar: Try to imagine it. Against all odds -- really astronomical odds -- Lloyd Blankfein CEO of Goldman Sachs, probably the most influential investment bank the world has ever known and just maybe the most influential anything the world has ever known -- has just now been eaten by a tiger. A real tiger. Well maybe just a bite at the moment but eating is eaten!

Announcer: Which should quickly unwind $3.2 trillion notional of bets and positions that will completely financially disembowel Goldman Sachs and maybe half of the global economy in the process. In probably less than a day. Good job everyone!

Cougar: Yeah just splendid. Now tell them the best part Ben.

Announcer: Everyone who contributed to getting Lloyd Blankfein on the set will receive via postal carrier a small, freeze-dried piece of Mr. Blankfein as tiger excrement. Courtesy of Fed to a Tiger. 

Cougar: That's right, real Lloyd Blankfein as cat shit. Have him bronzed. Flush him down the toilet. Or -- no wait here's an idea -- embed him in resin and sell him on EBay at a nice profit. And if you can manage it some how screw the trusting buyer, then sell Lloyd to multiple buyers at once, then while they are all waiting for delivery use Lloyd as leverage to buy a Porsche on credit with nothing down, drive off with the Porsche with Lloyd on the dashboard, and if anyone pitches a fuss have the US military drone their middle-class butts! You know he'd be proud of you! 

Announcer: In the world of high finances, it's all good. So until next time don't let yourself be...

Audience: Fed to a Tiger!

[cheering and applause]

[roll credits]

Announcer: Kahli's collar by Raging Madness of Los Angeles. Cougar's wardrobe courtesy REI Outfitters. Set design by Fortran. Our audio engineer tonight was Rose MacIntyre. All characters are fictitious, any resemblance to any real greedy power-crazed asshole sociopath as strictly satirical. The cast, technical staff and host all wish Mr. Blankfein and Goldman Sachs a profitable year, but if there was any way we could have legally fed him to a tiger and destroyed the global economy in a wild-assed bet, we absolutely would have.