Giant Sucking Sound
Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America
by Matt Taibbi
Spiegel & Grau
$26.00 List Price
Matt Taibbi is, by some margin, the best polemical journalist in America. His dispatches for Rolling Stone—long, carefully reported, deeply angry, and chock-full of information and vitriol—throw complex policy debates into stark relief and are loud and powerful enough to compete with the sex and celebrity filling up the rest of the magazine.
One of Taibbi's signal talents is that he repeats this feat on a regular basis: He's no one-trick pony. But the undoubted high point of his career—the phrase that will make it into the first paragraph of his obituary, no matter how long he lives—came in his July 2009 article on Goldman Sachs, when he described the venerable investment bank as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."
Never mind that the vampire squid is only a few inches long, poses no threat to humans, is more prey than predator, and has no such thing as a blood funnel. The moniker attached itself to Goldman Sachs like an ardent barnacle (I'm telling you, these marine metaphors are harder than they look). It didn't take long before Goldman employees stopped responding to calamari jokes in good humor and began greeting them instead with dead stares.
Among those who follow the bank closely (which is just about everybody in finance), the meme of Goldman Sachs as vampire squid has proved much more durable even than the record $550 million fine Goldman paid after getting into hot water with the SEC over a dodgy collateralized debt obligation. Indeed, since the SEC investigation
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