THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG: GOLDMAN IS BACK TO BEING GOLDMAN

Nicole Gelinas is less than enthralled with Goldman's plan for a neo-IPO of Facebook.

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Nicole Gelinas is less than enthralled with Goldman Sachs’ plan for a neo-IPO of Facebook.

Facebook wants the benefits of having a bigger investment base without the drawbacks. At first glance, this [scheme to sell Facebook shares to Goldman clients] appears to be none of our business. Goldman’s rich clients often have their own high-priced advisers, and they should know what they’re doing. If they want to pay hefty fees – “a 4 percent initial fee plus 5 percent of any profits,” says Cohan – to run the risk of losing their own money in an opaque venture underwritten by an opaque investment firm, let ‘em.

The problem is, though, that we’re inching toward a financial world comprised not of public exchanges but of private agreements like this one.

A public financial marketplace is integral to capitalism. In an open and free marketplace, millions of investors with competing agendas can jostle to determine what Facebook is really worth, from nothing to hundreds of billions of dollars. Many people will be wrong, but chances are better that everyone won’t be wrong all at once.

Four and five does seem a little pricey for the sort of transaction in which the issuer traditionally pays the fees. So Goldman. . . . Anyway, haven’t we learned yet the perils of allowing large, opaque markets to overheat and balloon? We certainly should have by now. . . . They tend to not end well! P.S. The Goldman plan isn’t apt to endear Mark Zuckerberg to federal regulators, either. Somebody ought to tell him that’s not a good idea. . . . P.P.S.: This headline could be the understatement of the day. . . .