Goldman Sachs burdened Greece, Oakland, and the Detroit Water Dept., and the Chicago school system with huge fees and penalties involving complex interest rate swaps (financial derivatives), according to Robert Reich in the Nation. The amounts are large: $ 793 million in fees from Greece plus an increase in its debt of $ 2.1 billion, a $200 million penalty for the Chicago schools to get out of their swaps, $ 547 million to terminate the swaps for the Detroit Water Dept., and a $16 million penalty for Oakland. These entities did not realize how risky and expensive it would be to enter into these swaps and then to get out of them. It is similar to what happened around 2008 when big banks sold risky swaps and derivatives as safe and lucrative investments, which later lost much of their value. The governments were not always innocent; Greece was trying to hide its debt and had spent too much. But Reich says that Goldman minimized costs and risks and exaggerated the benefits, and the governments did not understand the risks and costs. Greece was also corrupt and allowed taxes to be avoided, and it also was gullible or stupid.
Posted on July 28, 2015