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Recession 101: How Goldman Got Away with Murder

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Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein tesifies before the Senate in April 2010
"No jail time? Okay, see ya next time!" by Rolling Stone

The U.S. Justice Department announced last week that it would not be prosecuting Goldman Sachs for deceiving investors into purchasing investments that internal Goldman emails called "crap" and "junk."

For those who do not completely understand how America's economy collapsed, the selling of these investments was a crucial link in a long cause and effect chain of events.

A Bit of History

After selling the toxic investments, Goldman took avarice to another level by taking out insurance policies on them.  That's right; the diabolical execs at Goldman Sachs bought insurance policies for investments they no longer owned because they knew the investments were "crap."

"But why would an insurance company insure such a bad investment?"

I am glad you asked.

Goldman's deceit did not end with giving investors a bogus valuation of their product. Goldman proceeded to deceive the insurance company too. This was easy. The agencies responsible for determining the credit rating of Goldman's investment products were paid to do so by"you guessed it, Goldman Sachs.  Both the insurance companies and the investors thought they were getting a good investment because Goldman paid credit rating agencies to overvalue their products.

When the investments failed, Goldman collected the insurance money. In fact, they collected so much money that they put America's largest insurance company, AIG, out of business. It took $182 billion of taxpayers' money to bring AIG back to life.

Many more bailouts would follow for other institutions that were notoriously labeled as "too big to fail," and the economy has been struggling to recover ever since.

Turn the Other Check

Now the Justice Department is letting the people most responsible for ruining the economy off the hook. It is hard to say exactly why this is happening. The Justice Department says that it "ultimately concluded that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time." As if the facts are going to magically change.

I have my own more philosophical explanation for why Goldman's executive officers will be spending the rest of their lives sitting at tiki bars instead of behind prison bars.

Aside from the fact that Washington has been infiltrated and poisoned by former executives from Goldman and other Wall Street financial institutions (thank you, Mr. President), there are two fundamental reasons why the worst crooks in America are free to operate with impunity.

To fully appreciate the two reasons, watch this 90 second video that explains societies' inability to deal with a different type of criminal enterprise:


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Jason Palmer is the editor of politicdiscourse.com and a full time instructor of composition and American literature at a small college in North Georgia.
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Recession 101: How Goldman Got Away with Murder

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