Goldman Sachs: Size Matters — and 'We're Really Tiny'

Maybe this is an indication of how skittish investment banks have gotten over mortgage repurchase exposure.

Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs

On today's earnings conference call, Goldman CFO David Viniar responded to a question about mortgage putback risk directed to him by Glenn Schorr of Nomura Securities.

After qualifying his statements by calling the mortgage situation "very fluid and evolving," Viniar said of Goldman Sachs' mortgage business: "We really are pretty small. You know, as you know, mortgages, while important to Goldman Sachs , has always been the smallest of out FICC [Fixed Income, Currency, and Commodities] businesses. Never a very large business. You know, to put it in context, in the origination, we had a tiny underwriter. I looked at the statistics… [We were] the 40the largest originator [from 2005 to 2008] So we're really tiny in the market. And that drove us to be not one of the leaders in underwriting either… We're just not one of the leading players. "

When was the last time you heard Goldman Sachs boast about being "tiny" and "not one of the leaders" in anything?