The punch line is that ‘sophisticated’ investors may be the best marks. They want to believe the snake-oil claim of secret money-making formulas known only to the uber-elite … . Madoff appealed to the desire of those with money to believe that secret formulas can advance them from merely well-off to rich … . There are no secret investing formulas. Or if there were, Goldman Sachs would not share them. If there really were mysterious known-only-to-a-few money management techniques that ensure outsized returns without risk, Goldman Sachs would use these techniques to obtain vast wealth on its own, and not bother with clients. Madoff would have done the same — if his secret investing formula was real, why did he need clients? That Madoff or Goldman seeks fees from clients is, itself, proof the boys in pinstripes don’t have any super-advanced insight into financial markets.
Gregg Easterbrook in his TMQ Commentary at ESPN.