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From the Lowered Expectations Hall of Fame

Your humble blogger is back in the USA, and will be posting with gusto later today about everything he learned while in Europe. 

However, I can't resist commenting quickly on Goldman Sachs' settlement with the SEC.  Some financial bloggers are already describing it as a huge win for Goldman.  Ordinarily, I don't like this kind of frame:  settlements should be win-win, because both sides avoid litigation costs.  That said, this paragraph from Sewell Chan and Louise Story's New York Times write-up did catch me short: 

Though Goldman did not formally admit to the S.E.C.’s allegations, it agreed to a judicial order barring it from committing intentional fraud in the future under federal securities laws. 

Really?  Really?!  REALLY?! 

Goldman Sachs requires a judicial order  to not commit intentional fraud?  If that judicial order wasn't drawn up, fraud is part and parcel of Goldman Sachs' standard operating procedure?  Does this mean that, prior to this settlement, defrauding customers was part of its overall corporate strategy? 

I can just picture Goldman Sachs' prospectus to investors: 

Goldman Sachs has become the world's most profitable institutional investor through an integrated three-part strategy:

1.  Maximizing the profit opportunities from financial globalization;

2.  Optimizing the core research strengths of Goldman Sachs' legendary research arm;

3.  Scamming the living s**t out of investors stupid enough to think that we have ethics. 

Seriously, what the f**king f**k?  If this counts as a Goldman Sachs "concession," then they just pulled off the best piece of financial statecraft I've ever seen.  It's almost as bad as the old Number Six.

Am I missing anything? 

UPDATE:  Ah, this comment by A.S. does provide some useful context for this provision.  Still, writing it up as a Goldman Sachs concession  seems like poor reportage.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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