Once fabulous, now faded.
I’m delighted that a jury made up of so-called ‘normal people’ was able to cut through the seriously complicated CLO, ABS, CDS and other asset backed gobbledegook and come to the conclusion that yes, this then 28-year-old, highly educated Goldman employee was indeed capable of understanding a lot of what he was selling, and certainly had a good idea of the risks involved for investors.
What they do not appear to have done, of course, is to look more closely at how these deals were originally structured in a way to shelter the winners, and totally obliterate the poor losers on the wrong side of the trade. Goldman Sachs, the main firm involved in the Tourre case, has promised to do better next time and be more transparent. That, and about $550m in fines, is about as much of an admission of malfeasance as you'll ever likely to get from the likes of Goldman Sachs.
Tourre was hoping that his apparent junior status would somehow protect him from conviction, and indeed make him appear to be something of a victim himself. But Wall Street takes no prisoners, and if he was in the SEC’s sights, and they could pin something on him, then he was fair game. I, for one, had no shred of sympathy for him - unlike many commentators who seem to think that it’s not up to individuals to think about what they are selling.
But let’s not get too moralistic here. Most of us given that chance by a top Wall Street firm in a hot market would have had a hard time not smiling and dialling, selling these products, and taking the money.
Tourre has certainly been unlucky to have been selected from the many who are probably guilty of doing exactly the same thing as him. But, in the final analysis, he was big enough and ugly enough to have appreciated what he was doing, and his silly bragging emails clearly helped with his undoing.
image: © Adam & Tess