In January 2011, six months after getting slapped by the Securities and Exchange Commission with a $550 million fine for misleading clients on securities that were built to fail, Goldman Sachs released a new code of business standards. The move was meant to mollify concerns the bank had morphed into what Rolling Stone had dubbed a “vampire squid,” willing to feed on its own clients to make more money for itself. Under the heading “The Goldman Sachs Business Principles,” the first line of the new code, printed in boldface type, made clear the primacy of the issue it sought to address: “Our clients’ interests always come first.”
Those words appear slightly dubious today, in light of new details about the inner workings of two separate deals involving Goldman. Though its profits have been tamed, the squid seems as rapacious as ever.