The answer is that they sold a lot of "hot air" disguised as valuable securities. Goldman claims this was prudent risk management. In reality, Goldman created products that it knew or should have known were overrated and overpriced.
A reader who chose to remain Anonymous, left this link and a partial reprint of the Article from the Huffington Post by Janet Tavakoll Responding to Goldman Sachs.
It warrants publication for all readers of this site to read. It offers a good explanation of what Goldman Sachs did to defraud the markets and profit from these activities - profits never before seen.
They basicallly created and sold "thin air" and had investors worldwide waiting in line to buy. The biggest scam taking down millions of people, retirement sylstems and even whole countries.
I have written on this before that we can now call, "The Scam of the World".
The New York Times published a Christmas Eve expose of Goldman Sachs's so-called "Abacus" synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). They were created with credit derivatives instead of cash securities.An "Abacus" synthetic collateralized debt obligation! What in the "world" is that? First it is synthetic which openly means "not real". Second, what is a "credit derivitive"? Obviously it is a form (derivitive) of credit but taken in context with the word "synthetic" it obvously means "a not real form of credit". In other words - "thin air".
Yet the scam was so good, that all sophisticated and not sophisticated investors alike fell for it. Of course, now everyone is paying the price for it except for Goldman Sachs who continues to profit on the backs of the people.
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