Sunday, April 18, 2010
Given the tremendous water pressure involved, even a small crack in a huge dam can lead to catastrophic failure.
Similarly, even a small breach in a seemingly invincible army's defenses can lead to defeat.
The SEC's fraud action against Goldman Sachs is really small potatoes. It alleges only civil - not criminal - fraud.
And it is against only one small player, not against his bosses or top management.
(And Goldman has done a lot worse.)
But Goldman has suffered a crack in its veneer of respectability.
More importantly, the SEC action may represent a crack in the company's armor.
Before the SEC announced the charges, Goldman seemed unstoppable. It seemed like even countless tons of water pressure or scores of invading armies could not touch Goldman.
Now, there is a crack ...
Even if the timing of the SEC's announcement was wholly political (some commentators have called it bread and circuses or kabuki theater), and even if (as some writers have alleged) Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein himself approved the action as a way to diffuse pressure for bigger, criminal prosecutions against bigger players, tons of public pressure and hordes of lawyers are probably on their way.
Or perhaps Goldman is like the warlord hated - but feared - by all. If there is ever a crack in the warlord's veneer of invincibility, the locals might realize that he is only human after all ... and decide they can - together as a group - take him on.