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How to Puff Up Earnings, Goldman Sachs Style

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On April 14, 2009 @ 8:07 am In Markets | Comments Disabled

Leave it to the clever boys at Goldman Sachs to turn dross into gold: They have come up with a way to hide massive losses so clever, it requires special comment: The Orphan Month.

Yesterday, we noted that the bulk of their profits had come from AIG transfer payments [1] — the theft from taxpayers AIG 100% payouts funded via bailout monies that saw Goldie as one of the largest recipients. Floyd Norris notes that most of the AIG effect was in December. “For the first quarter, the total A.I.G. effect on earnings was, in round numbers, zero.”

How is it possible that this occurred? Isn’t GS on a December to February calendar? Well, there is a small asterisk about that. It seems that GS is moving from a December to a quarterly calendar. Meaning their latest Q is January thru March.

But what of December, with all t he AIG monies and the comparison to the strong December 2007 and all?

In a word, Orphaned:

Goldman’s 2008 fiscal year ended Nov. 30. This year the company is switching to a calendar year. The leaves December as an orphan month, one that will be largely ignored. In Goldman’s news release, and in most of the news reports, the quarter ended March 31 is compared to the quarter last year that ending in February.

The orphan month featured — surprise — lots of writeoffs. The pre-tax loss was $1.3 billion, and the after-tax loss was $780 million.

Would the firm have had a profit if it stuck to its old calendar, and had to include December and exclude March?

Truly astounding . . . the word Chutzpah simply does not do it justice . . .

>

Source:
The Case of the Missing Month [2]
Floyd Norris
NYT, April 14, 2009, 6:55 am

http://norris.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/14/the-case-of-the-missing-month/


Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/04/how-to-puff-up-earnings-goldman-sachs-style/

URLs in this post:

[1] profits had come from AIG transfer payments: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/04/taxpayer-funded-gs-profits/

[2] The Case of the Missing Month: http://norris.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/14/the-case-of-the-missing-month/

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