'This Week' Transcript: Goolsbee, Brown & Corker


TAPPER: Good morning, everyone. Tomorrow, the Senate is scheduled to hold its first vote on the biggest overhaul in decades of the nation's financial system, changes that could impact your savings, your pension, maybe even your job. This as a big Wall Street investment bank comes under attack on Tuesday. Executives from Goldman Sachs, which is already facing government accusations of fraud, will testify before a Senate committee investigating whether the firm profited from the massive housing crash at the expense of its clients.

Joining me this morning, three key players in the middle of this storm. With me here, is Austan Goolsbee from the President Obama's

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Council of Economic Advisers. In Chattanooga, we have Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker, and in Cincinnati, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, both key members of the Senate Banking Committee. Gentlemen, welcome.

GOOLSBEE: Thanks for having us.

CORKER: Good morning. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Before we start with Wall Street reform, I do want to talk about these Goldman Sachs memos, these emails that the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has released, emails that seem to show executives rejoicing as the housing market crashed, and in fact, they seem to contradict the impression given by Goldman Sachs that they lost

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money as the mortgage related investment crash happened. In a private email, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein wrote in November of 2007, "Of course we didn't dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts."

Senator Brown, I want to ask you. What do these emails signify to you?

BROWN: Well, these emails signify that there are all kinds of conflicts of interest on Wall Street, that there are -- that Wall Street, while working for its clients and working against its clients in the same sort of bundled toxic securities, and that's why we need the Volcker rule. That's why we need really strong reform that will separate the proprietary trading from banking functions. I think that says it more articulately and more forcefully, that example, than anything we've seen so far.

TAPPER: Senator Corker, doesn't Senator Brown have a point? This is exactly why people think that proprietary trading, that is when a bank uses its own money to invest, should not be the same, it should not be in the same firm as trading for commercial banking, for clients? That there is an inbred conflict of interest there.

CORKER: Well, I can understand the sentiment. I know that certainly the emails do not read well. I look forward to seeing what the SEC investigation brings forth, and the Senate investigation through this subcommittee brings forth. At the end of the day, though, some of that has to do with making markets. I am in no way defending sort of the attitude expressed in the emails, but I think we're better off waiting to see exactly what has taken place.

I think, you know, at the end of the day, instruments are set up on Wall Street. People take either side of it. There are some conflicts of interest that can exist and do need to be looked at, but I'd rather wait and see how this investigation unfolds before making any judgments.

TAPPER: Austan, is there anything in the legislation that Democrats are pushing that President Obama wants to pass, is there anything that would have prevented what Goldman Sachs is accused of having committed?

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