The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Jan 14


5. Goldman's Recommitment Ceremony

So long Goldman Sachs ( GS), the inscrutable, all-powerful money-making machine. Hello Goldman Sachs, re-committed to being an all-powerful money-making machine.

Goldman dumped a 60-something page report on the public on Tuesday after an extensive review of the company was carried out by something it calls its "Business Standards Committee." This is a newish committee made up mainly of Goldman Sachs executives, plus one or two people intended to add outside perspective, such as Wal-Mart ( WMT) Chairman Lee Scott.

The choice of Scott has a certain poetry to it. It's as if Goldman, not knowing or trusting any ordinary people it could consult with to see how its behavior affects them, figured it would talk to someone who got very rich by understanding how to sell stuff to ordinary people.

But Scott only knows one way to sell stuff to ordinary people -- make it really cheap. Goldman apparently took that advice to heart when writing up its report. It's filled with cheap phrases like "the firm's culture has been the cornerstone of our performance for decades," and "the Committee believes all financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, bear responsibility for constantly improving practices and procedures relating to the marketing and distribution of structured products." How bold.

Like many Goldman documents, the report veers from emptiness into absurdity. Take the list of abbreviations. Among TheStreet's favorites are EMD for Extended Managing Director and TCM, for Transaction Class Matrix.

And the report would not be complete without a flash of the trademark Goldman arrogance.

"We believe the recommendations contained in this report represent a fundamental re-commitment by Goldman Sachs: a re-commitment to our clients and the primacy of their interests; a re-commitment to reputational excellence associated with everything the firm does; a re-commitment to transparency of our business performance and risk management practices; a re-commitment to strong, accountable processes that reemphasize the importance of appropriate behavior and doing the right thing; and a re-commitment to making the firm a better institution."

In other words: We took a look at what we were doing. Ah, that was refreshing. Now let's go do it some more.

TheStreet Says: 60+ pages of "re-commitment" to assure customers you'll get serious about everything you do? Forgive us if we're not reassured.

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