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Norb Vonnegut

Norb Vonnegut

Posted: July 16, 2010 11:40 AM

Darth Goldman: The Enterprise Value Strikes Back

What's Your Reaction:

Yesterday, Goldman Sachs settled fraud charges associated with Abacus CDOs for $550 million. Not surprisingly, the settlement excluded Fabrice P. Tourre, who will no doubt be hung out to dry as the Tourre de Toxic winds to a close.

Personally, I think the government just got slapped in the face. Here's why:

  1. The $550 million settlement equals 4% of Goldman's 2009 profits.
  2. Last year's bonus pool at Goldman was 29 times the settlement.
  3. The two banks that lost about 1 billion in Abacus received an average of 25 cents on the dollar.
  4. Meanwhile, John Paulson's hedge fund is keeping everything from its casino bet.
  5. After hours, Goldman's shares traded up 5 percent. That's roughly $3.7 billion in additional market capitalization, or 6.7 times the penalty. I'd take that trade all day long.

Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC's enforcement division, heralded the settlement as a big win. So did Senator Carl Levin. That's the thing about a $550 million fine. If you're on the receiving end of the payment, there's always somebody to take credit and claim responsibility. Here's what the New York Times reported.

"Goldman played fast and loose in the Abacus deal, misled its clients, and got called on it today," said Senator Carl M. Levin, a Michigan Democrat who led a separate Congressional investigation that examined the Abacus deal.

I don't think so. Everybody's moving on, and Goldman Sachs is still the biggest winner. The company just won a little less. What do you think?

Norb Vonnegut


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