Economics/Class Relations

Will “Goldman Penis Envy” Crash the Economy Again?

By Matt Taibbi and Eric Salzman

Nearly fifteen years ago, on December 10, 2006, the CEO of Senderra, a subprime mortgage lender owned by Goldman, Sachs, sent a grim report to its parent company. “Credit quality has risen to become the major crisis in the non-prime industry,” Senderra CEO Brad Bradley wrote, adding that “we are seeing unprecedented defaults and fraud in the market.”

Within four days, senior executives at Goldman decided to “get closer to home” by unloading risky mortgage instruments. They didn’t alert regulators, of course, but did save their own hides, with Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein soon after ordering subordinates to sell off the ugly “cats and dogs” in their mortgage portfolio.

Around the same time that Goldman was having its come-to-Jesus moment, rival Lehman Brothers was going the other way. In one meeting, the bank’s head of fixed income, Mike Gelband, pounded a table, telling the firm’s infamous Vaderqsque CEO Richard “Dick” Fuld and hatchetman-president Joe Gregory there was a $15-18 trillion time bomb of lethal leverage hanging over the markets. Once it blew, it would be the “grandaddy of credit crunches,” and Lehman would be toast.

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