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BEHIND THE MONEY: As Goldman Goes, So Goes 2008's Last Gasp

BEHIND THE MONEY: As Goldman Goes, So Goes 2008's Last Gasp

As we head into the last full week of the trading year, the S&P 500 is up 17 percent from the benchmark's 11-year low hit on Nov. 20. The financial part of the index has had a large role in that comeback, posting a gain of about 24 percent.

This last gasp by the market is now in the hands of Goldman Sachs , according to traders. The recently-converted commercial bank posts fiscal 4th quarter results Tuesday morning.

And boy, has the bar been set low. At the end of November, analysts started slashing estimates left and right on Goldman and now expect the company to lose a whopping $3.50 a share, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

Expectations for a surprise beat may be wishful thinking tainted by the automatic surprise dolled out every quarter by Goldman during the go-go bull market days, at least according to recent commentary by our guest tonight, Jeffery Harte of Sandler O'Neil.

In a note on Dec. 4, Harte slashed his 4th qtr. estimate on Goldman to a worse-than-consensus $3.78 a share loss. The widely-followed analyst cites greater-then-expected asset writedowns and flat-line investment banking activity levels, not to mention the collapse in global equities.

If Goldman does manage to disappoint, Morgan Stanley may give the market a second chance if it can say business is not as bad when it reports Wednesday morning.

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