The German bank on the losing end of the Goldman Sachs derivatives deals that have attracted the ire of the Securities and Exchange Commission was so absorbed in the pursuit of high-yield returns from financial instruments linked to the US housing market that it preferred to lose one of its top executives rather than change course. This single-minded pursuit of yield provides an important context for the SEC’s case against Goldman. In hindsight, it can appear that Goldman must have been committing some kind of fraud in order to sell subprime CDOs that performed so badly. But at the time, the buyers of these instruments were actively seeking exposure to subprime risk. In 2002, IKB Deutsche Industriebank, the German bank, named as a victim in the SEC’s complaint against Goldman, launched an off-balance sheet, off-shore “conduit” called the Rhineland fund to buy up mortgage bonds and derivatives linked to the bonds.
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