While I am pleased to see some level of regulatory activity from our Securities Exchange Commission, I think we may all want to hold our applause for some further review. Let’s try and put this fine levied on Goldman Sachs (without admitting any wrongdoing) in perspective. The 2009 bonus pool available to Goldman employees was $16.2 billion dollars. Allow me to remind you that Goldman also received $12.9 billion in compensation from AIG for credit default swaps that went bad. That was not really AIG money, it was tax payer money. A $550 million fine represents about 3% of the bonus pool and a fraction of the taxpayer money which Goldman received from AIG. Without the public scrutiny of a civil trial, we will never know whether what Goldman did was criminal at worst or merely questionably ethical at best.
If the SEC is ever going to earn the respect it should have from the institutions it regulates, it is long past time for this agency to start to enforce its regulations in a fashion which will be a deterrent for future questionable activity. In my opinion, the SEC had a golden opportunity to let the world know that a capable cop was back on the street and simply passed on it. Well, maybe next time.
Doug Hendee, CFP®
(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author’s opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).