25 Apr 2010

Goldman emails reveal crash profit boasts

3:17 pm on 25 April 2010

Emails have been released in the United States showing executives at Goldman Sachs, boasting about the money the investment bank was making while the US housing market was collapsing in 2007.

The emails were released by a Senate subcommittee. Chairman Carl Levin (Democrat) said banks like Goldman Sachs were "self-interested promoters of risky schemes that helped trigger the financial crisis".

Goldman Sachs says it lost money in the market crash: $US1.2 billion in the residential mortgage market during 2007-08.

Separately, the bank is also defending itself against a government lawsuit which accuses it of misleading investors.

The Senate permanent subcommittee is holding a hearing into the origins of the financial crisis on Tuesday.

In one of the emails, Goldman Sachs executive Donald Mullen wrote to his colleague: "Sounds like we will make serious money."

In another email, a Goldman trader stated that the investments he had sold were "like Frankenstein turning against his own inventor".

At the time the bank bought and sold housing investments betting the market would go down - a process known as short selling.

"Of course we didn't dodge the mortgage mess, we lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts," Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blanfein wrote in an email in 2007.

20 million documents

The BBC reports the emails were among 20 million documents provided to the Senate subcommittee.

Senator Levin said they showed that Goldman "made a lot of money by betting against the mortgage market".

In response, Goldman Sachs said the subcommittee "cherry-picked" four emails from almost 20 million pages of documents and emails.

"It is concerning that the subcommittee seems to have reached its conclusion even before holding a hearing," said a spokesman.