Lucas van Praag, global head of corporate comms. at Goldman who has been with the company since 2000, posted a point-by-point rebuttal of what he called “errors” in the Times piece by Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story, which portrayed Goldman as pushing AIG to the edge of collapse and was based on internal AIG documents and an audio recording.
“The theories are contradictory and many of the supporting ‘facts’ don’t stand up to serious scrutiny,” van Praag wrote on the progressive website.
Among the Times’ assertions was the claim that Goldman stood to gain from the housing markets implosion because it had begun to make “huge” trades in late 2006 that would pay off if the mortgage market went south.
Van Praag, a former partner at Brunswick Group, said that claim is “misleading” and “mischaracterizes” the bank’s position at the start of 2007. He said Goldman began hedging its mortgage holdings in Q1 of ’07 to limit its exposure in the declining market.
The Times piece also included this ‘graph: “Goldman’s demands for billions of dollars from the insurer helped put it in a precarious financial position by bleeding much-needed cash.”
Van Praag said Goldman was a small “counterparty” relative to AIG’s overall business and that its marks reflected market prices at the time. “We requested collateral we were entitled to under the terms of our agreements,” he wrote. “The idea that AIG collapsed because of our marks is not credible.”