In Rudyard Kipling's novel The Man Who Would Be King, we are introduced to Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan, perhaps best described as 19th Century con men and adventurers who managed to become Kings of the Kafirs. At one point, Dravot managed to convince his followers that he was a god -- a descendant of Alexander the Great -- which, if you think about it, is far better than a mere king.
Alas, Dravot and Carnehan should have left well enough alone. When Dravot decided to marry a Kafir girl, she bit him when he tried to kiss her. Unfortunately, Dravot bled from the bite. Gods do not bleed.
Seeing that Dravot was "Neither God nor Devil but a man!" his followers abandoned him. Dravot walked out upon a rope bridge high above a gorge, bedecked with his crown, and the rabble cut the rope cords. Dravot fell to his death. Carnehan was crucified but allowed to live when he survived through the day, only to eventually die a lunatic and a beggar.
As the drama of SEC v. Goldman Sach & Co. unfolded three months ago, I was asked if I thought that Goldman would survive. Oddly, I could not help but think about Dravot. . .
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As to whether the $550 million or so dollars that the SEC has extracted via fines, penalties, and disgorgement from Goldman is a significant sum, well, that's a tough question which requires a nuanced answer. Of course a half a billion dollars is a lot of money, unless we're talking about the federal budget. On the other hand, all that I keep thinking about is that on April 16, 2010, the day when the SEC announced its lawsuit against Goldman, that Goldman's stock lost $10 billion in value. So, in one trading day the common stock's value fell nearly 20 times what the SEC is citing as a major financial sanction. Of course, what I'm still puzzled by is how hammering public shareholders with a financial penalty sends a message to the executives and board members who acted improperly or failed to act. After all, Goldman Sachs is a publicly traded company whose shareholders will ultimately pay the cost of this settlement and who incurred the diminution in their investment.
And, while we're at it, will someone explain to me how Fabrice Tourre is still left hanging out there as a Defendant? Is his head the promised payment to some SEC Salome?
Regulatory lawyer Bill Singer has analyzed and posted the latest crop of FINRA disciplinary cases.
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