On Monday afternoon Goldman Sachs posted a miserable first quarter for most of its typical investment banking divisions -- and a record $6.56 billion in revenue for its trading unit, giving the bank a net profit nearly double Wall Street expectations. Mere seconds into the question and answer session of yesterday's conference call with analysts, Guy Moszkowski of Merrill Lynch asked the question on everyone's lips: what did the $180 billion money vortex called AIG have to do with those numbers? Nothing, insisted chief financial officer David Viniar, who said the impact of the unwind for the quarter "rounded to zero" and later professing to Bloomberg he was "mystified" over the public fascination with the question.
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Was Viniar lying? Yesterday we explained how Goldman appeared to have booked the cash flow from the bailout in its "orphan month" of December, making Viniar possibly technically truthful. But then Peter Fisher, who heads fixed income trading for the hedge fund BlackRock, all but accused Viniar of flat-out lying. With the seen-everything tone one might expect of the longtime central banker Fortune once described as "one of those behind-the-scenes guys who keep Wall Street from coming apart at the seams," Fisher told Bloomberg Surveillance host Tom Keane in an audio segment uploaded by the blog ZeroHedge that Goldman, as
rumored, had reaped huge "one-off" profits on the AIG unwind.
"So," Keane asked sarcastically, "did [Goldman] make those trading gains by taking the hide out of BlackRock?" That got a laugh, so Keane pressed: