Is anyone really independent?

I wish had the time to write about all that’s on my mind about the SEC charges vs. Goldman. The crux of my most recent post was that institutional investors – not individual investors – have few excuses for making unsuccessful investment decisions except their own lack of due diligence or the fact that what they thought was a good decision … wasn’t.

I’m happy to see that Warren Buffett agrees as he told his rapt audience in his comments at Berkshire Hathaway’s recent annual shareholder’s meeting. Of one firm, ABN Amro, Mr. Buffett said: “It’s hard for me to get terribly sympathetic when a bank makes a dumb credit bet.” (more…)

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Goldman Sachs -Not so fast!

Will Rogers was fond of saying, “Buy low, sell high … and if it doesn’t go up, don’t buy it!”

That’s a whimsical sentiment, but I wonder what’s in the air when I read about the alleged fraud by Goldman Sachs described in the civil complaint filed by the SEC, referenced in the recent article here. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions too quickly. In too many ways, this episode is reminiscent of earlier 1980s  battles with Michael Milken. Notwithstanding Milken’s misdeeds, my vivid memory is that there were accredited investors and savvy buyers on both sides of those transactions perfectly capable of making independent decisions. Some of them were wrong and they lost money, but in virtually every case, they were well-equipped to make sound decisions … if they did their homework.

These challenges typically arise when people lose money … and there’s no question a lot has been lost. But, to assume that people who lose on one side of a transaction, are incapable of making prudent independent decisions and were sold a bill of goods , is the flawed argument that often pervade these matters. (more…)

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