Like earthquakes, Goldman Sachs can strike anytime. Its work can slumber undetected for years, only to erupt, unanticipated, with catastrophic consequences.
Consider: In 2001, Goldman set up some opaque financial transactions for the Greek government, the New York Times reported last month. Last year, when a new government took office, it found that Greece's debt was far greater than the old government had acknowledged, thanks to deals that allowed borrowing to be treated as currency swaps rather than as loans. It also turned out that Greece's deficit wasn't 3.7 percent of gross domestic product but 12.7 percent.