From the Lowered Expectations Hall of Fame

Your humble blogger is back in the USA, and will be posting with gusto later today about everything he learned while in Europe.  However, I can’t resist commenting quickly on Goldman Sachs’ settlement with the SEC.  Some financial bloggers are already describing it as a huge win for Goldman.  Ordinarily, I don’t like this kind ...

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Your humble blogger is back in the USA, and will be posting with gusto later today about everything he learned while in Europe. 

However, I can't resist commenting quickly on Goldman Sachs' settlement with the SEC.  Some financial bloggers are already describing it as a huge win for Goldman.  Ordinarily, I don't like this kind of frame:  settlements should be win-win, because both sides avoid litigation costs.  That said, this paragraph from Sewell Chan and Louise Story's New York Times write-up did catch me short: 

Though Goldman did not formally admit to the S.E.C.’s allegations, it agreed to a judicial order barring it from committing intentional fraud in the future under federal securities laws. 

Your humble blogger is back in the USA, and will be posting with gusto later today about everything he learned while in Europe. 

However, I can’t resist commenting quickly on Goldman Sachs’ settlement with the SEC.  Some financial bloggers are already describing it as a huge win for Goldman.  Ordinarily, I don’t like this kind of frame:  settlements should be win-win, because both sides avoid litigation costs.  That said, this paragraph from Sewell Chan and Louise Story’s New York Times write-up did catch me short: 

Though Goldman did not formally admit to the S.E.C.’s allegations, it agreed to a judicial order barring it from committing intentional fraud in the future under federal securities laws. 

Really?  Really?!  REALLY?! 

Goldman Sachs requires a judicial order  to not commit intentional fraud?  If that judicial order wasn’t drawn up, fraud is part and parcel of Goldman Sachs’ standard operating procedure?  Does this mean that, prior to this settlement, defrauding customers was part of its overall corporate strategy? 

I can just picture Goldman Sachs’ prospectus to investors: 

Goldman Sachs has become the world’s most profitable institutional investor through an integrated three-part strategy:

1.  Maximizing the profit opportunities from financial globalization;

2.  Optimizing the core research strengths of Goldman Sachs’ legendary research arm;

3.  Scamming the living s**t out of investors stupid enough to think that we have ethics. 

Seriously, what the f**king f**k?  If this counts as a Goldman Sachs "concession," then they just pulled off the best piece of financial statecraft I’ve ever seen.  It’s almost as bad as the old Number Six.

Am I missing anything? 

UPDATE:  Ah, this comment by A.S. does provide some useful context for this provision.  Still, writing it up as a Goldman Sachs concession  seems like poor reportage.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

More from Foreign Policy

Bill Clinton and Joe Biden  at a meeting of the U.S. Congressional delegation to the NATO summit in Spain on July 7, 1998.

Liberal Illusions Caused the Ukraine Crisis

The greatest tragedy about Russia’s potential invasion is how easily it could have been avoided.

A report card is superimposed over U.S. President Joe Biden.

Is Biden’s Foreign Policy Grade A Material?

More than 30 experts grade the U.S. president’s first year of foreign policy.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan gives a press briefing.

Defining the Biden Doctrine

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan sat down with FP to talk about Russia, China, relations with Europe, and year one of the Biden presidency.

Ukrainian servicemen taking part in the armed conflict with Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk region of the country attend the handover ceremony of military heavy weapons and equipment in Kiev on November 15, 2018.

The West’s Weapons Won’t Make Any Difference to Ukraine

U.S. military equipment wouldn’t realistically help Ukrainians—or intimidate Putin.