Here is a theory about the Goldman Sachs case which comes as much from our ignorance of all things financial as anywhere: Basically, we are pissed that Goldman Sachs made a lot of money while everyone else went broke.
Maybe the Abacus 2007-AC1 deals weren't illegal. Maybe Goldman's shorts were this side of crooked. The fact still stands that while the stock market plunged and people lost their houses and unemployed toy execs walked around with sandwich boards to advertise their services, Goldman made a lot of money betting against everyone and then emailed each other to congratulate themselves about it. The Times says the emails released today by the Senate committee investigating Goldman are important legally because they "appear to contradict previous statements by Goldman that left the impression that the firm lost money on mortgage-related investments." Goldman was originally like, hey, how could we have this nefarious scheme to bet against our clients when we ended up losing money. So, egg on their face.
But the emails are important to us mainly because it allows us to very clearly imagine the shit-eating grin affixed to Goldman execs' faces as they traded emails like "Sounds like we will make some serious money" in 2007, a few months before the economy died. (Click to enlarge.)
David Viniar gloats about Goldman's infamous "Big Short" after Goldman made $50 million in one day off tanking mortgage investments:
Blankfein himself, talking about shorts:
Good news... We make $5mm. Bad news... this email is going to make us look like pricks sometime in the very near future:
You can read all of the emails here (PDF).