Sideways: Goldman’s hidden losses
The recent disclosure that rare wine worth more than $1.2 million was stolen from Goldman Sachs co-president David Solomon, allegedly by a personal assistant, raises questions about which other Wall Street titans may have suffered the indignity of losses they would rather not discuss.
Solomon’s former assistant, Nicolas De-Meyer, is accused of pilfering wines such as Burgundy’s fabled Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and is said to have been dismissed in November 2016. In retrospect, that was around the time that Solomon’s boss, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, seems to have lost his mojo.
Once the shock of the election of Donald Trump that month wore off, many expected market conditions that would make Goldman great again. Volatility seemed inevitable under Trump and when Blankfein’s increasingly impatient heir apparent Gary Cohn went to Washington as head of the National Economic Council, it appeared that contacts at the heart of government would help to guarantee that Goldman could monetize the Trump trade.
Sadly, it didn’t work out like that. Goldman stumbled from one trading blunder to another in 2017, with commodity and distressed debt mishaps compounding the effect of historically low market volatility.
Blankfein suffered the indignity of seeing Morgan Stanley overtake Goldman in fixed income trading revenue during much of 2017 and then in early 2018 by stock market value, for the first time in over a decade.
Morgan Stanley chief executive James Gorman has been oozing self-satisfaction at this trend, but has he too suffered an undisclosed loss? Gorman certainly seems to have mislaid his sense of humour many years ago, although perhaps it was surgically removed when he was a management consultant at McKinsey as a harsh but necessary step in navigating his way to the top.