I've been closely focused on the Goldman Sachs drama over the past couple of weeks. Most pundits and other in the financial industry have dismissed the SEC case as a minor bump in the road for the company. Goldman will settle, take its slap on the wrist and move on many assume.
However, as more information comes out about the clear conflicts between the firm and some of its clients I see the story taking on greater significance. As I wrote in the last issue of “The Felder Report,” the baby boom generation has now suffered the bursting of the internet and housing bubbles culminating in the worst financial crisis and recession since the Great Depression – all during their peak saving and investing years.
In addition, the Bernie Madoff fraud didn't do much to appeal to investor trust during this economic debacle. Now add the fact that the most prestigious investment house in the world profited enormously during the crisis and, in many cases, directly from its own clients demise. In light of all this, I don't see how this generation doesn't become completely financially misanthropic.
Should the baby boom generation decide they have had enough of risk assets and exposing their nest eggs to the seemingly pervasive problem of fraud on Wall Street of one kind or another we may see massive shift in the investing landscape. Risk assets such as stocks, real estate, commodities, etc. would suffer at he expense of increasing popularity of relative safe havens, i.e. treasuries, certificates of deposit and other cash alternatives.
This is a potential trend that is extremely difficult to quantify but I believe bears careful monitoring as the Feds take Goldman and others to task via legislation and litigation.