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A FINANCE HOUSE ALMOST PART OF GOVERNMENT: Friends in high places

Former Goldman Sachs chief executive officer Robert Rubin led the National Economic Council created by President Bill Clinton (1993-95) before becoming his treasury secretary. He contributed to "reassuring" the financial community by becoming a cheerleader for deregulation. During George W Bush's administration, two other Goldman Sachs CEOs also played major political roles – in both parties. Hank Paulson was treasury secretary between 2006 and 2009, and in that capacity was the principal architect of the massive government rescue of the banking sector.

A finance house almost part of government: Quants who turned lead into gold

In one of the private emails that triggered the latest Wall Street scandal, Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre, one of those "quants" (quantitative analysts) who were the hottest property in finance during the recent boom, wrote about how he created "all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstrosities!"

Ponzi: King of the sting

Carlo Ponzi was born in Parma, Italy, in 1882. He arrived in the United States in 1903, the heyday of robber barons, convinced like many immigrants that the streets were paved with gold. This get-rich-quick artist, endowed with more imagination than talent, tried all sorts of fiddles, practised a thousand trades and frequently found himself on the wrong side of the law.

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