Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Aliens vs Predator

"All this, the claim says, led to Goldman establishing a relationship of “trust” with the Libyan Iinvestment Authority – set up to invest parts of the country’s vast oil wealth – which allowed the bank to make $350m (£210m) from a series of trades worth $1bn that ultimately proved worthless.

"The LIA claims that the bank took advantage of an unsophisticated and poorly trained body of staff at a time when Libya was being brought back into the international fold and sanctions had been eased...  The trades soon went wrong and they were in essence  worthless by the middle of 2008." - Gifts, perks and Moroccan luxury: How Goldman Sachs "won over Libyans", Independent

It's tempting to find hilarity in this tellingly unsurprising scam and indeed, the Beast has already done so - ho ho, the naked criminality of international finance achieving in months what it took militaries, sanctions and an actual uprising decades to achieve.  The miracle of the markets, booyah!

Certainly, it's hard to imagine a more ironic tale - a vicious, backward regime founded on theft and murder, finally eviscerated by an encounter with the sheer fraudulence and avarice of modern capitalism.  A wide-eyed tyranny emerges blinking into the light of modernity, only to be instantly devoured by the Big Bad Wolf along with grandma, Little Red Riding Hood and the Woodcutter.

If you'll forgive the Simpsons reference though, all I hear in this latest revelation is an echo of that drive-in movie, The Monster That Ate Everybody: 

"It ate America?"

"It ate everybody".  

 "It ate Greece?" 

"It ate everybody".

"Surely not Colonel Gadaffi?"

Of course, as the Beast observes, you could say that "Goldman rescued Libya", although this is an odd way of putting it.  After all, the new Libyan government could probably do with some cash.  What's Goldman's attitude to that suggestion? 

"Goldman said last night: “We think the claims are without merit and will defend them vigorously.” It is expected to argue that it was not acting in a fiduciary capacity with respect to the LIA and that the authority approached it with trades, not the other way round."

Awesome.   I'm reminded of a jokey suggestion I once made, about how we should get rid of our pigeon problem by releasing platoons of Komodo dragons onto the streets of Edinburgh.


BenSix said...


flyingrodent said...

Jesus, that is without doubt the stupidest thing I've read so far this year, significantly worse than that Ed West one about liberal bias in children's books.

levi9909 said...

Rod Liddle made the same point in The Spectator back in 2005:

There may, too, have been some of that unconscious anti-Semitism which has historically infested the far Left; many psychoanalysts believe that the Left’s aversion to capitalism is simply a displaced loathing of Jews.

The link to The Spectator has been broken but I wrote about it at the time here:

Melanie Phillips has also said the same kind of thing.

The logic of what they are saying of course is in itself antisemitic, ie, Jews are essentially capitalistic but what they are trying to say is that leftism is essentially antisemitic.

I think there's a little more to it than mere stupidness though.

ejh said...

many psychoanalysts believe

Given that the Spectator link is broken, I will be unable to find out which psychoanalysts Liddle actually quoted in the piece. Damn.

flyingrodent said...

The really noticeable thing in the coverage of this I'm seeing is the complete lack of surprise in coverage - What, you mean one of the world's foremost financial institutions scammed and entire country and made off with fat fees? What next, a Catholic Pope?

That Beast article says it all, really - the author concedes that he doesn't know whether Goldman was criminal or merely incompetent because hey, it's Goldman, right? It's all the same thing!

Regardless of whether this was a fair or a foul deal, I marvel at the cold-bloodedness on those glad-handing salesmen, all of whom would've known what their Libyan counterparts stood to lose if this deal fell through. After all, everyone in the room during that deal surely knew that losing all that cash would probably cost the Libyans their lives but, hey ho, we've all got to go some time...