James Moore: No tears shed across the Atlantic for the bank that gave others a bad name

Comment
Click to follow
The Independent Online

How time flies. It hardly seems credible that, less than three years ago, Goldman Sachs at the height of its powers won the sought-after title of "Bank of the Year" at the annual IFR awards in London.

Rivals didn't exactly boo and hiss – the really venomous comments at the industry's favourite annual back-slapping fest don't come until after dinner. But the hostility directed towards Goldman was palpable.

Nobody likes it when Goldman wins and it nearly always does. Until now. There's more than a little schadenfreude in the air in the City of London today. There aren't many who are willing to defend the poster child for all that has gone wrong with the investment banking industry. Arrogance is in the DNA of investment banks and investment bankers. But Goldman has taken this on to a new plane and even its rivals find the company, well, a bit much. Still, while they are all enjoying Goldman's evident discomfort, there are plenty willing to raise questions about just how strong the fraud case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is.

The sort of chicanery that the SEC alleges that Goldman was involved in appears to be largely be confined to US institutions (largely) but bankers with a bit of self-awareness are also sometimes willing to admit "there but for the grace of God".

Which worries another, more traditional part of the City that might be on its last legs, but has not completely expired. It holds that the purpose of the capital markets in London and New York is to ensure that growing companies have access to financing and to provide a return to those willing to provide that financing. The role of investment banks ought to be to oil the wheels, matching one with the other. They fear that the tail is wagging the dog and those markets have been rigged for institutions whose power has got out of control. It's not schadenfreude that has this part of the City hoping that America's watchdogs can cut Goldman down to size.

Comments