Goldman Sachs: Too big to rein in?

On June 11, Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $67m to settle a suit charging the firm and others with colluding to drive down the price of takeovers.

For another firm, paying out tens of millions of dollars to resolve allegations of collusion might provoke an existential crisis. Not for Goldman. The firm did not admit to any wrongdoing and said in a statement: “We’re pleased to put the matter behind us.”

That seems to sum up how Goldman would like to handle everything related to its role in politics and markets over the last two decades. The rest of us shouldn’t be too ready to do so.

To be sure, Goldman Sachs is not solely or even primarily responsible for the 2008 financial crash and the ensuing, worldwide Great Recession. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

But as the leading firm on Wall Street before the crash, as the company most entangled in high-level policymaking, as an innovator of overly complicated and socially destructive trading products and schemes, as an orchestrator of financial deregulation, as an enterprise with tentacles extending so far that it has been accused of manipulating aluminum markets, Goldman Sachs surely deserves plenty of blame.

Not for nothing did columnist Matt Taibbi famously call the firm “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”.

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