Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said the credit crisis that's forced almost $250 billion in losses and writedowns at the world's biggest finance companies may be approaching an end. ``We're closer to the end than the beginning,'' Blankfein, 53, said today in response to an investor question at the company's annual shareholder meeting in New York. Blankfein's comments follow similar remarks by Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer John Mack, who said earlier this week that the end of the credit-market contraction that began with subprime mortgages may be in sight. Mack said it would probably last ``a couple of quarters'' longer. Likening the crisis to the periods in an American football game, Blankfein said that ``we're maybe at the end of the third quarter, or the beginning of the fourth.'' He warned that fourth quarters often last longer because of time-outs, and sometimes go into overtime. ``No promises on how long that is,'' he said. After the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the past year, losses spread to leveraged loans, commercial real estate and municipal bonds. Goldman, the biggest securities firm by market value, posted record profit last year, avoiding writedowns that caused historic losses at Merrill Lynch & Co. and Citigroup Inc. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=akVfP6K8sz3k&refer=home Hmmmm....Is that the same Blankfein telling us three weeks ago that we' re only half way through the credit crisis ???