Thursday, July 2, 2009

Goldman Sachs Responds To Zero Hedge

It seems quite a few individuals noticed our post attempting to justify some very peculiar language in not just a certain Goldman Sachs Internet disclaimer, but also the strange wording prominently featured in critical GS-client agreements. One happened to be Goldman Sachs itself. We take this opportunity to present the response by Goldman Sachs' spokesman Ed Canaday:
Dear Mr Durbin:

This is in response to your recent blog about our web site disclaimer. It is quite usual for websites to have disclaimers that refer to the monitoring of site usage. Most web sites, including yours we noticed, track usage by their visitors. This is primarily used for marketing and to help inform decision about enhancing content.

Your suggestion that we monitor our web site to facilitate front-running is untrue and offensive.


Ed Canaday
Vice President
Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Ed Canaday
Office: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Cell: xxx-xxx-xxxx
We are happy to have caught the attention of Mr. Canaday. We believe this is the start of a great ongoing dialog. In that vein, Marla has replied to Mr. Canaday and Goldman Sachs, attempting to elaborate on some of the point that Ed did not touch upon. I present it below and am looking forward for Goldman's forthcoming reponse:
Dear Mr. Canady:

Thanks for your quick reply.

For your future reference, the correct spelling for "Tyler" is "Tyler Durden." (A re-viewing of "Fight Club" might be in order, but I know Goldman VPs probably rarely have time for such luxuries).

Obviously, we want to make sure we have our facts correct so I am pleased to see your email. Perhaps you can lay to rest some questions we have for the record:

1. Indeed, data use disclaimers are a common feature on most websites. Still, I think you will agree that where usage patterns are so directly linked with potential investment activity and customer intentions it is a bit unusual not to have a more explicit description of the kind of use Goldman intends here. This is particularly so where customer attitudes are concerned, and appearances are important. "Internal business purposes" is a bit vague in this respect, don't you find? This seems unlike Goldman, usually a firm known for very careful attention to detail. Why is a more specific description of such purposes not included? I would think that easier than explaining the matter repeatedly to random bloggers (and customers).

2. I notice that you have not taken the opportunity to address similar disclaimer language in the form contracts used by Goldman and Spear, Leeds and Kellogg. Was this omission intentional or an oversight? (For your reference you can find the language we are curious about here: "You acknowledge that we may monitor your use of the Services for our own purposes (and not for your benefit). We may use the resulting information for internal business purposes or in accordance with the rules of any applicable regulatory or self-regulatory body and in compliance with applicable law and regulation."

Not to be a stickler, but the drafting here seems quite careless.
Note the differing terms between the website disclaimer "...the resultant information may be used by GS for its internal business purposes OR in accordance with the rules of any applicable regulatory or self-regulatory organization...." (emphasis added) and the form disclaimer "...we may use the resulting information for internal business purposes or in accordance with the rules of any applicable regulatory or self-regulatory body AND in compliance with applicable law and regulation...." (emphasis added).

As a reformed legal professional myself, this seems a bit sloppy to me. Can you comment on the language and in particular why a more explicit definition of "internal business purposes" is not included?

3. I also notice that you do not specifically address our question:
"...has Goldman has ever actually used 360 submitted information in the decision making process of its prop trading desk?" Could you give us a response there? Perhaps you might augment that to include the decision making process of any Goldman investment decisions rather than just the prop desk and all information Goldman collects about 360 users.

And lastly, while we have your attention, we were hoping you could make a statement for Zero Hedge and its readers on the long discussed topic on our pages regarding Goldman Sachs' effective monopolization of Principal Program Trading in the New York Stock Exchange. In other venues you have attributed this domination solely to Goldman's selection as the one and only SLP currently used by the NYSE. Would you care to elaborate how that fits in with the NYSE's upcoming changes to their DPTR (
specifically as pertaining to J and K account type indicators. Was Goldman in any way consulted in the making of this decision by the NYSE? Did Goldman have any direct communication with the SEC on this issue?

Thanks for your help with these matters. As an aside, if there is a contact at Goldman we can routinely direct these questions to that might be helpful for both of us going forward. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

"Marla Singer"

Zero Hedge
Of course, as soon as we receive additional disclosure on this matter, we will post it promptly. Sphere: Related Content
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