One of my favorite books is Lisa Endlich's Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success. It's an amazing story and shows the importance of a corporate culture. But as Goldman
I completely agree with Matt that Goldman is a brand on par with standout companies like Coca-Cola
The problem is that Goldman's Global Alpha is not in a "recent" dry spell. The underperformance has been happening for the past two years.
That's a magic threshold for major investors. It's actually an eternity for them. How can they justify a high-fee investment if the fund continues to lag against other branded hedge funds? Loyalty can be ephemeral on Wall Street. If Goldman doesn't correct its investment performance on Global Alpha soon, I think it's inevitable we'd see defections.
As for Goldman's private-equity empire, I agree that the firm's brand will attract top-notch deals. The fund will generate a juicy 2% fee on the $20 billion under management, and that's easy money. I wouldn't pass on the money, either.
The irony is that our highly sophisticated capitalist system is doing its job. Money is flowing to where there are high risk-adjusted returns. For the past five years, that place has been private equity.
But with an excess of capital in private equity, the returns should flatten. It's basic economics.
I also think there is considerable risk in the short term. In a piece from last week's Guardian, the Royal Bank of Scotland's CEO, Sir Fred Goodwin, said that private equity looks "toppish." Then there is Intermediate Capital's chairman, John Manser. His debt firm is turning away deals because of the high risk.
As I argued in my bear case, I'm not betting on an implosion of Goldman. Instead, I think the issue is that investors have become accustomed to extraordinary success. The problem is that the competition is also bulking up and playing the same game.
Coca-Cola and Microsoft are Inside Value recommendations.
Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is ranked 1,161 out of 29,574 rated investors in Motley Fool CAPS. The Fool has a disclosure policy.