Rumors about inadequate liquidity pushed Bear Stearns into the hands of JPMorgan Chase, led to the demise of Lehman Brothers, and resulted in life-saving U.S. government support for AIG in 2008.
Yet Goldman Sachs pushed away the rumors and calmed the frayed nerves concerning its own health, and Liz Beshel played an essential role in that effort as the firm's treasurer.
Her biggest challenge: "Making sure the firm had adequate funding and liquidity during the crisis last fall," Beshel says. "People were worried about us - needlessly, I'd say." There was intense focus on the firm's financial stability as many wondered if the Lehman collapse would be the first domino in a chain that would take down all the big investment banks. Beshel says the treasury unit was prepared for all the scrutiny. Goldman takes a very conservative approach to capital, funding, and liquidity, she points out. "That lies at the heart of everything we do."
One thing that helped, she notes, was Goldman's general approach to managing assets and liabilities. The firm turns over its asset base quickly, while its funding is of much longer duration. Behind it all stands the treasury team, which keeps track of all things Goldman, right down to each sales structure and systems.
"Liz and her team were crucial to insuring that Goldman Sachs maintained as strong a liquidity position as it ever has," notes Goldman chief financial officer David Viniar. "As a result, Goldman Sachs was able to help our clients navigate the extremely challenging market conditions."