Lloyd Blankfein - Does Goldman Really Need A Fall-Guy ?

The chatter that Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein might have to fall on his sword as part of the settlement of those SEC fraud charges just won't go away.

Time magazine has the latest list of those in line to succeed Blankfein (President Gary Cohn, co-Head of investment management Edward Forst, John Weinburg, who heads up investment banking, Bryon Trott (Warren Buffett's favourite banker), and Suzanne Nora Johnson, said to have been the firm's highest-ranking woman until she left 3 years ago.

But, with all due respect to the above, are they any less culpable than Blankfein for the firm's current woes, which seem to simply have been caused by a concerted political witch hunt to claim his scalp. Goldman's 'crime', after all, appears to be that it conformed to standard industry practice when marketing a CDO deal to investors. Should Blankfein be forced to pay the price for that ? 

Goldman's real 'crime', of course, is that it emerged from the financial crisis relatively unscathed and made lawmakers (who gave them a bailout they didn't want) look rather foolish by having the audacity to kick on and make some money (that's a crime in Obama's America too now, you know).

But the firm should stay strong and resist this ridiculous lawsuit, and Blankfein should stay firmly put. Whether he will, of course, remains to be seen - in a world where success is knocked, and the US government now basically runs the economy (some say it is all that is left of the economy), anything could happen.

In the meantime, CNN Money reports that some Goldman employees are beginning to think the unthinkable - that with all this hassle, the firm would be better off becoming a retail bank!  But that would involve having to deal with Congressional Oversight Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren. On second thoughts.......

Finally, Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove has cut his price and earnings estimates on Goldman. He told CNBC last week: 'This is one of the poorer quarters that the company has experienced, and I think most of its businesses simply didn't do well, whether it's in the trading area, equity activity, activity in high-yield, in the investment banking arena. So it's going to be a very bad quarter'. 

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