Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.

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Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Founded 1869
Headquarters New York, NY
Key People Chairman and CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein
Products brokerage, investment banking, asset management

Goldman Sachs (GS) is one of the world's largest investment banks and trading houses. It's a long-standing member of Wall Street's so-called "bulge bracket" of securities-industry powerhouses that includes arch-rivals Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Like many competitors, Goldman suffered from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown in 2007 and in the following years took some hits, largely as a result of public criticism.


Brief History

Goldman Sachs was founded in 1869 by German immigrant Marcus Goldman when he opened a commercial paper business on New York City's Pine Street.[1] The business was restructured in 1989 when the Goldman Sachs Group, LP was formed to serve as the Goldman parent company. In 1996 the Goldman Sachs Corporation, owned by a partnership of Goldman's managing directors, became the Group's sole general partner.[2]

Following that time, Goldman continued to grow its earnings and posted solid year-on-year increases in total net revenues and earnings per share in the 2005-2007 financial period.[3] Total net revenues jumped more than $10 billion from 2006 to just under $46 billion in 2007 while earnings per share rose from $19.69 to $24.73 over the same period, as investment markets prospered.

Recent Problems

But Goldman took a big hit in the first quarter of 2008, particularly on investment banking revenue, after mortgage and credit markets slumped worldwide in 2007. Its first-quarter '08 profit dropped 53 percent to $1.47 billion, with losses of $1 billion in mortgages and securities and another $1 billion in credit markets.[4] Goldman's profit per share for Q1 dropped from $6.67 the previous year to $3.23 in 2008. The figures nonetheless beat Wall Street expectations and the Goldman share price rose in response.

In January of 2010, it was reported that Goldman Sachs Group Inc., one of the biggest recipients of funds from the U.S. bailout of American International Group Inc., was seen by the public as favored by regulators. The assumption was made as an internal Federal Reserve Bank of New York e-mail became public.[5]

In February of 2010, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sued seven of its former private wealth management division executives for abruptly leaving the company to join rival Credit Suisse earlier in the month.[6] Three investment professionals at the vice president level, two associates and two managers left Goldman Sachs on Feb. 5 to join Credit Suisse, which had induced the team with tens of millions of dollars for the defection, Goldman said in the court filing.

In April 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Goldman Sachs & Co. of defrauding investors by failing to disclose conflicts of interest in mortgage investments it sold as the housing market was faltering.[7] Goldman Sachs responded in a press release posted on the company Web site, stating that the SEC’s charges "were completely unfounded in law and fact and we will vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation."[8]

In July 2010, the SEC announced that Goldman Sachs will pay $550 million and reform its business practices to settle SEC charges that Goldman misled investors in a subprime mortgage product just as the U.S. housing market was starting to collapse.[9] In agreeing to the SEC's largest-ever penalty paid by a Wall Street firm,[10] Goldman also acknowledged that its marketing materials for the subprime product contained incomplete information.

Goldman agreed to settle the SEC's charges without admitting or denying the allegations by consenting to the entry of a final judgment that provides for a permanent injunction from violations of the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933. Of the $550 million to be paid by Goldman in the settlement, $250 million would be returned to harmed investors through a Fair Fund distribution and $300 million would be paid to the U.S. Treasury.[11]

The landmark settlement also requires remedial action by Goldman in its review and approval of offerings of certain mortgage securities.

In July 2011, after a disappointing earnings report, where earnings from trading debt, currencies and commodities tumbled 63 percent from the previous quarter, Goldman announced plans to cut approximately 1000 jobs. As of June 2011, the company employed nearly 35,500 people.[12]

Key People

Chairman and CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein[13] was appointed to both positions at Goldman in June of 2006 after a two-year stint as Goldman's president and chief operating officer. He had been co-head of Goldman's Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities (FICC) division from its inception in 1997 until 2003, when he became its head, and also served as vice chairman of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. from 2002 to 2004. In fiscal 2007 Blankfein's salary package from Goldman totalled $27,585, 474, including $26,985,474 in bonuses, BusinessWeek reported.[14] By contrast, Bank of America Chairman and CEO Kenneth D. Lewis pulled down $1.5 million in fiscal 2007 while Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO John Mack made $800,000, although Blankfein's official salary is listed at $600,000 annually.


  1. History and Growth. Goldman Sachs.
  2. Goldman Sachs History 1999. Goldman Sachs.
  3. 2007 Annual Report. Goldman Sachs.
  4. Goldman Sachs (GS), Lehman (LEH) beat earnings estimates. Investor's Observer.
  5. Goldman Viewed as Favored by Regulators, Fed Says. Bloomberg.
  6. Goldman Sues Seven Former Executives For C.Suisse Move. Yahoo! News.
  7. SEC Accuses Goldman Sachs Of Civil Fraud. Associated Press.
  8. Press Release. Goldman Sachs.
  9. Press Release. SEC.
  10. Litigation Press Release. SEC.
  11. Consent Press Release. Bloomberg.
  12. Goldman Sachs Plans Job Cuts as Debt Trading Misses Estimates. SEC.
  13. Lloyd C. Blankfein Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Goldman Sachs.
  14. Lloyd C. Blankfein. BusinessWeek.
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