Andrew Ross Sorkin, whose unparalleled access to Wall Street execs helped him pack his Too Big to Fail with chunks of exclusive details, has come out in defense of a Wall Street exec. Writing on the question of Lloyd Blankfein’s truthfulness in DealBook, Sorkin first establishes his defiant rebel spirit (“The vampire squid haters won’t like this column”), then explains why he doesn’t actually think that Blankfein perjured himself when he told a Senate committee last year that Goldman didn’t have a “massive short” against the housing market, as Senator Carl Levin and others have argued.
Sorkin reported out the claim with sources in both Washington and Wall Street and found that the Senate report contains some glaring errors on the Goldman numbers: A “typo” changed Goldman’s 2007 net revenues from $45.98 billion to $11.6 billion (that’s one fat-fingered typist!), according to a report co-author with the Dickensian name of Robert L. Roach. More disturbing to Sorkin, the committee selectively ignored that the overall net revenue from Goldman’s residential mortgage products was less than $500 million, when a short position would have netted the firm far more than that. Roach “admits” to Sorkin that there are shades of gray: “It’s about how you define ‘massive’ and ‘large’ — and I’m not trying to be cute.” Aw, missed opportunity. Surely Mr. Too Big appreciates a good size wisecrack, no?
The Fine Print of Goldman’s Subprime Bet [DealBook/NYT]