How Goldman Sachs Screwed Ghana
In 1998, Ashanti Gold was the 3rd largest Gold Mining company in the world. The first "black" company on the London Stock Exchange, Ashanti had just purchased the Geita mine in Tanzania, positioning Ashanti to become even larger. But in May 1999, the Treasury of the United Kingdom decided to sell off 415 tons of its gold reserves. With all that gold flooding the world market, the price of gold began to decline. By August 1999, the price of gold had fallen to $252/ounce, the lowest it had been in 20 years.
Ashanti turned to its Financial Advisors - Goldman Sachs - for advice. Goldman Sachs recommeded that Ashanti purchase enormous hedge contracts - "bets" on the price of gold. Simplifying this somewhat, it was similar to when a homeowner 'locks in' a price for heating oil months in advance. Goldman recommeded that Ashanti enter agreements to sell gold at a 'locked-in' price, and suggested that the price of gold would continue to fall.
But Goldman was more than just Ashanti's advisors. They were also sellers of these Hedge contracts, and stood to make money simply by selling them. And they were also world-wide sellers of Gold itself.
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