If CIT fails, Goldman wins -- with a $1 billion payoff

Goldman Sachs Group (GS) doesn't provide much detail on how it racks up billions of trading profits every quarter. But if you look at how it made out on American International Group's (AIG) failure -- a $12.9 billion check from taxpayers -- you start to get the idea. Goldman has engineered the world so it wins no matter what. That's why Goldman is also set to profit -- to the tune of $1 billion, according to Bloomberg -- from the failure of another borrower, CIT Group (CIT).

Before checking into Goldman's latest head-I-win, tails-you-lose deal let's review what happened with AIG, which the U.S. took over last fall because then-Treasury Secretary and former Goldman CEO Hank Paulson decided that the government needed to bail out Goldman's credit default swap (CDS) exposure to AIG at 100 cents on the dollar and keep it secret. Unfortunately, Paulson's efforts at secrecy failed, and we learned that Goldman got $12.9 billion and that foreign banks got billions more.

Now comes CIT, which according to Bloomberglends to about a million small and midsize businesses like Dunkin' Brands. CIT has $29 billion in debt that it's having trouble repaying. So over the last several months, its stock has swung up and down on the strength of the latest press release announcing one rescue plan or another.

In the latest such plan, CIT -- which lost $1.62 billion in the second quarter, thanks to customers not repaying their loans -- is trying to avoid bankruptcy by asking bondholders to swap unsecured obligations for new secured debt and preferred shares. And one of those creditors is Goldman, which Bloomberg reports is involved in renegotiating a deal inked in June 2008 to provide CIT with $3 billion over 20 years.

If the deal falls through, CIT would likely file a prepackaged bankruptcy. And that would give Goldman another big payday from the failure of one of its clients. That's because in that June 2008 financing deal, CIT agreed to pay Goldman 2.85 percent of the maximum amount Goldman lent CIT -- or $85.5 million a year for the first 10 years and a declining amount thereafter.

U.S. taxpayers won't make out that well. If CIT goes into bankruptcy, they'll lose $2.3 billionworth of preferred shares in CIT that the U.S. government bought during the financial crisis in 2008.

By the way, remember those AIG CDS that earned Goldman $12.9 billion? Goldman will actually make more than $1 billion on the CIT bankruptcy because it bought CDS on CIT as well. By betting against its customer, Goldman stands to make some extra money off its client's bankruptcy.

Here's the score: Goldman has 29,400 employees, and there are about 300 million people in the U.S. Goldman's 0.01 percent of the population is on track to average about $772,858in total compensation this year, thanks to its ability to engineer the U.S. government and the rest of the business world so it wins while 99.99 percent of America loses.

Nice work if you can get it.

Peter Cohan is a management consultant, Babson professor and author of eight books including, You Can't Order Change. Follow him on Twitter. He has no financial interest in the securities mentioned.

Read Full Story