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Goldman E-mail Message Lays Bare Trading Conflicts

For years, Wall Street whispered that Goldman Sachs profited handsomely by trading ahead of — or even against — its own clients.

On Tuesday, a Goldman executive made an unusual admission that, in some cases, the rumors were true.

In an e-mail message to select clients, Thomas C. Mazarakis, the head of Goldman’s fundamental strategies group, acknowledged that his unit often provided investment ideas that the firm had already traded on. Sometimes Goldman has even taken the opposite approach, betting against particular instruments that the group has recommended.

“We may trade, and may have existing positions, based on trading ideas before we have discussed those trading ideas with you,” he wrote.

The statement comes as the firm faces growing criticism over its role in the financial crisis, and is a rare acknowledgment of Goldman’s conflicts with certain of its clients.

Google’s Nexus One Hurt By Inadequate Customer Support

Google’s celebrated algorithms may power the Web’s most popular search engine, but they have not yet been programmed to answer a call when a customer has a problem.

New owners of the Nexus One, the latest touch-screen smartphone to run on Android, Google’s mobile operating system, have found themselves at a loss when it comes to resolving problems with the handset. They cannot call Google for help, and the company warns that it may take up to 48 hours to respond to e-mail messages.

Unlike other phones that run on Android, like the Motorola Droid or the T-Mobile G1, the Nexus One was developed and branded by Google and is sold directly by the company to customers.

But ever since the phone went on sale Jan. 5, customer forums have been filled with a cacophony of gripes about the Nexus One. And Google, more accustomed to providing minimal support for its free services, has been unprepared to deal with the higher service expectations of customers who are paying as much as $529 for its high-end smartphone.

Management Shake-Up
Continues at Disney

The Walt Disney Co. continues to slash and burn through the management ranks of its struggling motion picture studio as it works to return the division to profitability.

Oren R. Aviv, the studio’s top movie production executive, resigned under pressure on Tuesday. Aviv, who had been at Disney for 19 years, was responsible for the development and production of live-action movies like the forthcoming “Alice in Wonderland” and “Tron Legacy.”

In a management realignment in November, Rich Ross, the recently installed chairman of Walt Disney Studios, ousted a dozen managers, including top marketing and publicity executives. Aviv was spared and given a public vote of confidence. Ross praised him at the time for his “terrific filmmaker relationships and creative expertise.”

But it is now clear that Aviv’s retention was more about keeping a modicum of stability atop the studio as Ross made other changes. Ross has been charged by Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, with rethinking matters such as how the company markets its movies in the digital era and how it schedules the release of films on DVD and on-demand services.