Will the Truth Set Goldman Free?

The besieged bank explains itself on Capitol Hill

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The main event in Washington today is a showdown between Goldman Sachs and Congress. It comes 10 days after the SEC accused Goldman of fraud and members of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will do their best to depict the bank as an "arch-villain" of the financial crisis. Now, as Goldman's prepared remarks circulate, pundits anticipate a testy stand off. Will honesty avail the despised bank? How will Goldman execs confront the list of allegations?

  • The Truth Will Bury Goldman  Roger Martin at The Washington Post explains, "The better job Goldman Sachs does in explaining exactly what its business is, the more outraged regulators and the public will be. The only reason that Goldman has avoided negative publicity for so long is that the public has had no idea how far its business model has changed from one that the public could reasonably understand. Even the regulators are largely flummoxed."
  • Goldman Will Fudge the Truth and It Will Work  David Brooks at The New York Times writes: "The firm can claim to be dumb but decent, like the rest of the establishment, and emphasize the times it lost money. Or it can present itself as smart and sleazy, and emphasize the times it made money at the expense of its clients. Goldman seems to have chosen dumb but decent, which is probably the smart narrative to get back in the establishment's good graces, even if it is less accurate."
  • They'll Take a Scolding and Brush It Off, writes Alex Altman at Time: "If Blankfein will attempt to navigate the tightrope between aggressively defending the firm and acknowledging the public's concern, Tourre will likely cite the SEC suit in declining to provide any substantive information." Altman quotes a source saying, "It's a little bit like being yelled at by a teacher... You take it, and the next day you move on."
  • It's Government's Fault—Not Goldman's   Bethany McLean in The New York Times writes, "There are no good guys here. It’s dishonest and ultimately dangerous to pretend that Goldman is the only bad actor. And the worst actor of all is the one leading the charge against Goldman: our government." Though she blames the banks and credit rating agencies, she comes down hardest on regulators and Congress: "In the end, it comes down to this: Goldman Sachs, ACA Capital, IKB Deutsche Industriebank and even the rating agencies never had any duty to protect us from their greed. There was one entity that did — our government."
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