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Matt Levine

Is Everything Securities Fraud?

Don’t worry, this column is still mostly GameStop, it’s just not all GameStop.

Here are some things that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. told its shareholders in its annual reports in the first decade of this century:

Then a global financial crisis happened, and, uh. Well. In the years after 2008, there was a widespread view that integrity and honesty were not at the heart of Goldman’s business, that Goldman’s dedication to complying fully with the letter and spirit of the laws was less than total, that Goldman’s clients’ interests sometimes came second, etc. (Disclosure, I worked at Goldman at around this time, and integrity and honesty were always at the heart of my business.) Goldman got in all sorts of political and public-relations and legal trouble for things it did pre-crisis, with the most notorious example probably being the Abacus synthetic collateralized debt obligation trade for which Goldman paid $550 million in penalties to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.