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Goldman Sachs has played a crucial role in creating every market bubble since the 1920s -- and has profited from not only the bubbles, but from the crash that followed as well, says a new expose in Rolling Stone magazine.
Taibbi writes that Goldman Sachs has traditionally been a late arrival to market bubbles, getting in once others have started the trend, but, once in, the company quickly ramps up the bubble, predicts its bursting, and then hedges its bets so as to make money from the bubble crash.
The article, which is not yet officially available online, adds one more bubble to the list: the "global warming bubble," or specifically, the proposed cap-and-trade legislation that would allow companies to trade pollution credits on an open market.
Taibbi's argument suggests the Wall Street bank may well want to turn climate change policy into yet another Wall Street casino game.
Because emissions caps will continually be reduced, Taibbi argues, pollution credits will constantly be growing in value, and Goldman Sachs wants in on the ground floor.
Taibbi writes: "The plan is (1) to get in on the ground floor of paradigm-shifting legislation, (2) make sure that they're the profit-making slice of that paradigm and (3) make sure the slice is -- a big slice. Goldman started pushing hard for cap-and-trade long ago, but things really ramped up last year when the firm spent $3.5 million to lobby climate issues."
The same Wall Street players that upended the economy are clamoring to open up a massive market to swap, chop, and bundle carbon derivatives. Sound familiar?
Banks like JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs already have active carbon trading desks that deal in instruments connected to Europe's cap-and-trade system and voluntary markets here. But business will explode if a cap-and-trade system becomes law. So it's no surprise that the financial industry has taken an intense interest in the fine print of the Waxman-Markey bill.
Michelle Chan, the investment program manager for Friends of the Earth, believes that if offset derivatives aren't properly regulated, they could become "subprime carbon"—futures contracts that promise emissions reductions but fail to deliver and then collapse in value. Already, she points out, some banks are bundling credits from multiple offset projects and splitting them into tranches to sell to investors. This kind of activity is "hauntingly close" to mortgage-backed securities, Chan told the House ways and means committee in March, arguing that it has the potential to spread risk throughout the financial system. At a CFTC hearing earlier this year, Skip Hovarth, president of the Natural Gas Supply Association, questioned whether the agency had the tools and the manpower to keep track of such an incredibly complex market, adding, "If this market fails, and all the derivatives and all the markets that attach to it that grow over time fail, it will make this last recession look like nothing.
Meanwhile, industry groups like the International Swaps and Derivatives Association pushed for a system in which a "broad suite" of financial products can be traded, and that's what Waxman-Markey delivers.
In an especially audacious move, the industry also argued that cap and trade should allow the very same types of unregulated instruments that helped spread risk throughout the financial system like a cancer, contributing to the economic meltdown. In particular, it lobbied for "over the counter" carbon derivatives—deals conducted directly between two parties with no one monitoring the risk. (Perhaps the most notorious form of OTC derivative is the credit default swap, which crippled AIG when it issued too many high-risk swaps while lacking the money to cover them.)
July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Declines of more than 20 percent in regional banks and home builders and the failure of transportation companies to erase their annual loss may be signs the rally in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is about to fizzle.
Smaller lenders in the gauge have lost 24 percent since climbing to a four-month peak on May 8, while builders have tumbled 26 percent from May 4, when they reached the highest level since October. Concern that mortgage rates, credit losses and foreclosures are increasing spurred retreats in the companies forecast to be among the biggest beneficiaries of $12.8 trillion in government stimulus spending.
Slumps in bank stocks foreshadowed previous declines in the S&P 500 as investors focused on real-estate losses that curbed lending. Regional banks’ 51 percent plunge over 28 days starting Dec. 8 came a month before the S&P 500 began a 28 percent slump to a 12-year low of 676.53. The lenders’ all-time high in February 2007 occurred seven months before the S&P 500’s record.