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The "Vampire Squid" at 142 years

Goldman Sachs (GS), the most profitable investment bank in Wall Street history, went through a bit of a rough patch during the economic downturn. The firm posted its first quarterly loss since going public and handed over the largest fine ever collected by the Securities & Exchange Commission. From a purely economic angle, it appears that Goldman is now back on track, with $8.35 billion in profit last year. In the court of public opinion, however, Goldman Sachs is still on trial.

The company was called the greedy cause of the downturn for selling bad debt and then betting against it. Rolling Stone framed Goldman as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." That's not to mention a 650-page Senate report that hangs over the firm.

Turned over to the Justice Dept. and the SEC for further investigation, the report by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations says Goldman misled clients and Congress about the collateralized debt obligations that helped cause the financial crisis, according to Bloomberg.

Founded on tobacco promissory notes and commercial paper, Goldman's 142-year history has in some ways repeated itself. This is certainly not Goldman's first dance with the SEC. And the firm battled back from its position as a national laughingstock following the Great Depression.

Click here to read more of Goldman's history.
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