Darren Kugler
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Darren Kugler in Commodities,

Goldman, Morgan Stanley Commodity Heyday Gone as Units Faulted

Congressional scrutiny of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS)’s commodities businesses is another strain for units that already saw revenue tumble by two-thirds from peak years.

Goldman Sachs produced $1 billion of revenue from its commodities unit and investments in commodity businesses in 2012, down from $3.4 billion in 2009, according to a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report released yesterday on banks’ involvement in those markets. Morgan Stanley’s commodity revenue fell for four straight years, from $3 billion in 2008 to $912 million in 2012, according to the report.

The Senate subcommittee, led by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, conducted a two-year investigation of banks’ physical-commodities businesses as part of scrutiny from lawmakers and the Federal Reserve. The panel’s report found that big Wall Street firms have used such units to take advantage of markets and are failing to guard against potential catastrophes.

The investigation provides an insight into businesses that banks don’t typically report separately in their disclosures to investors. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley include commodities-trading results in their broader fixed-income, currency and commodity revenue lines. The commodities revenue figures include revenue from trading in physical and financial products, as well as some investments.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg

The Senate subcommittee, led by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, conducted a two-year investigation of banks’ physical-commodities businesses as part of scrutiny from lawmakers and the Federal Reserve.

bloomberg