Selig Cartwright, Goldman Sachs Washroom Attendant: The Ultimate Market Secret Revealed — Walling Off Wall Street
Selig. Are You alright? You look terribly confused.
I’m sorry, Mr. B. No need for you to worry. I’ll get back to work.
Not until you tell me the problem, Selig. We’re all family here at Goldman Sachs, you know. Has your asthma gotten worse from the chemicals you use to clean our toilet stalls? Are you running short of sponges, floor wax, light bulbs? Are you having difficulties ordering new videos for my personal Stall #8?
It’s nothing like that, Mr. B. It’s just…It’s just…
Spit it out, man. What’s the problem?
It’s just that I don’t understand how you manage to do what you do. I’ve been cleaning this washroom for years, listening in while people chat. Then I go home and watch the reporting on financial news channels. And it all just seems so…so…so crazy.
What do you mean by crazy, Selig?
Well, sir, like what happened just the other day. Goldman’s second quarter results came out. Company profits were down 11 percent from the same quarter last year. The investment banking end of the business was down. Even trading revenue was down 12 percent. It was a terrible report. But the company’s share prices soared upwards that day.
So? Anything else confusing you.
Everything about this market confuses me, Mr. B. Europe is falling apart. It’s in recession again. China and India are slowing down dramatically. Our own economy is sinking into the tank. Corporate profits that are supposed to be the basis for stock prices are down. The government is paralyzed. A fiscal cliff is waiting out there with no resolution in sight. And the stock market just seems to shrug it all off. It goes down sometimes, but always bounces back for no reason whatever. At least no reason that makes any sense.
So? Anything else confusing you.
No. That’s it sir. Sorry to bother you. I’ll just pick up my toilet brush and…
Hold off on that for a moment, Selig. You are, after all, part of the Goldman family. So I’ll let you in on our little secret. After which you can get back to your cleaning chores and stop your little person whining. About our own sharp price hike after reporting terrible quarterly results, that was because we beat analyst expectations. Most of these analysts work for us, other investment banks and related outfits, and have a natural tendency to come up with expectations that we have a natural tendency to exceed. If you catch my meaning.
I believe I do, sir. But the market as a whole. How do you keep propping that up?
That’s our real secret of continued success, Selig. Ready to receive it?
I’m all ears, hanging on your every word, sir.
Well, it all comes down to just a single word. Divestiture.
I don’t understand, Mr. B. What did you divest.
For heaven sakes, Selig. Isn’t it obvious? We just divested the stock market from the overall economy. They no longer have almost anything in common. This came about mostly after 2009. Wall Street’s computer-based, big volume flash traders rigged the market to rise steeply after the huge 2008 market plunge, expecting small investors to be sucked in and join the party. When they did that we’d pull out at the market top and leave the little guys hanging. But they didn’t bite. Because somehow they suspected the game was rigged.
Very uncharitable of them, sir.
Indeed, Selig. Indeed. So we moved on to the present Plan B. Now we just pretty much trade with each other, churning out profits on swings that go pretty much nowhere for no particular reasons. And now that even this isn’t getting the profits we’d like, we’re about to move into Plan C in a big, can’t miss way.
Plan C, sir?
Right. Offering direct services to the rich and richest. Believe me, Selig, no matter who wins in November, these people won’t end up getting hurt.
That I do believe, sir. And you’ve given me new insights into the Wall Street name, too.
How so, Selig?
Well, sir, Wall Street originally got its name from a wall that colonists built to keep wild hogs from devouring their crops. So things haven’t really changed much over the centuries.
And who do you see as the wild hogs today, Selig? Those inside the wall that Wall Streeters have constructed or those outside — keeping in mind that your own always tenuous position here in this tough job market might well be affected by your answer.
I think it’s time I got back to my stall cleaning, sir.
Indeed it is, Selig. Indeed it is. I’ll return in ten minutes and expect my personal Stall #8 to be ready for action.