Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Conflicts of interest redux.

Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote a great piece in yesterday's New York Times about the "heads I win, tails you lose" approach that Goldman Sachs seems to have used in the El Paso-Kinder Morgan deal (here). 

Lots of people think that mere disclosure of conflicts will cure each and every one of them.  Sure, disclosure will cure some, especially with sophisticated clients.  But even with the most sophisticated clients, disclosure is a tough thing to get right.  Disclose too little, in consideration of each client's confidential information, and the consent to the conflict isn't very "informed."  Disclose too much, and the clients' confidential information goes out the window.

I'm going to guess that most of the time, the disclosure is too little, not too much.  And that's not just right.

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