The New York Times has an editorial this morning criticizing Goldman Sachs for selling mortgage-related investments to clients while betting that the investments would decline in value. "Wall Street continues to defend what looks to us as rank financial speculation," the Times says. "What goals, other than lining it [sic] pockets, were served by the deals?" "Lining pockets" is a term the Times editorialists use to convey their contempt for the profit motive, which is a pretty basic element of capitalism. That is the goal of Goldman Sachs; to make money for its shareholders, including its employee-shareholders. This isn't any kind of deep, dark, scandalous secret; the firm is quite up front about it, publishing the "Goldman Sachs Business Principles" right there on its Web site, with principle number three being "Our goal is to provide superior returns to our shareholders. Profitability is critical to achieving superior returns, building our capital and attracting and keeping our best people." As for "speculation," it's a part of capitalism, too; one explanation is Victor Niederhoffer's 1989 Wall Street Journal article, "The Speculator as Hero." We're not here to defend Goldman Sachs; the firm itself has apologized for some of its behavior. For our overall view of the firm, see the long Goldman post. At the same time, a lot of Goldman's customers were sophisticated investors themselves who consented freely to purchasing what Goldman was selling them. When it gets to the point where Wall Street bankers are being criticized for making money and for speculating, one starts to wonder whether the anti-Wall Street backlash is going a bit far. Meanwhile, if the Times is so down on Goldman Sachs, one wonders why it hired the firm to sell its stake in the Boston Red Sox. Eleven months since Goldman was hired, no sale has been announced.