Breda O’Brien on Sutherland and Goldman Sachs – Bullseye

I wrote before on this issue pointing out that I really did not want to be preached to and patronised by him. Breda O’Brien who is I think a schoolteacher writes from a conservative Catholic viewpoint weekly in the Irish Times. I am usually less that overwhelmed but today whe is bang on the money. Here she is on Peter Sutherland and Goldman Sachs.

“Imagine if we stopped lionising people like Peter Sutherland, which we do for the most part because of his wealth and success in business. Without in any way questioning Sutherland’s probity on a personal level, a large part of his career has been spent with entities that have not exactly covered themselves in glory.
He is, for example, non-executive chairman of a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs International. Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the US Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations described Goldman Sachs as “self-interested promoters of risky and complicated financial schemes that helped trigger the [global financial] crisis”.
Infamously, Goldman Sachs initially made a profit on the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007 by gambling against the same subprime products they had designed and sold to others. Despite that, when their own share price began to fall, and it looked in danger of collapse (of course, it staunchly denies it was near any such thing) it took all the government aid that was going. In February, managing director Gerald Corrigan told a US Senate committee that it had benefited from about $28 billion of US taxpayers’ funds.
The company also engaged in a highly dubious, if legal, manoeuvre with Greece in 2001. According to Corrigan, currency swaps allowed Greece “a rather small but nevertheless not insignificant reduction in its debt-to-GDP ratios at that time”. In other words, it contributed to Greece’s ability to look like it was balancing its books even though it wasn’t. If it was legal, it was certainly unethical. It is the separation of ethics from business that has brought us to this pass, part of what historian Tony Judt called the “uncritical adulation of wealth for its own sake”.