The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Goldman Sachs made money trading every single day last quarter

Uh-huh.  Which means, as I said earlier, that the security markets are not free markets.  They are moved, at will, by the muscle, money and foreknowledge of a relatively small number of large traders.  The small time but professional traders (aka. people who used to make money) are livid, because systems which used to give reliable trading signals have become far less reliable.  This is why, on virtually every econo/market blog you will find that the commenters are angry.

This is an oligarchical society.  This is true whether you live in Europe, the US or China, it is only a question of who is a member of the oligarchy.

And, with maybe one or two exceptions, no one reading this is.


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  1. “The world is run by a small group of people to which, unfortunately, no-one we know belongs.”

    So. Can we subvert this system?

  2. No member of the oligarchy would be reading you–or me–Ian.

    Carolyn Kay

  3. anonymous

    This is, uh, “old news” in the sense that G/S has been doing this for the past year. During the second quarter last year they had only one “losing” day. During the third quarter, they had no losing days. I haven’t seen reports of what they managed to get away with in the fourth quarter, but had they not had near-zero “losing” days that would have been news. They appear to have perfected this crime.

    Their goal now is to hang on to that money and not say anything in public testimony that would land them in prison, where they could not spend it.

    The small time but professional traders (aka. people who used to make money) are livid, because systems which used to give reliable trading signals have become far less reliable.

    In addition to the reduced transparency that you describe, when the number of decision makers is reduced, all other things being equal, the probability of failure increases.

    Dictatorships tend to blow up into economic calamities and wars. Recent example: when the U.S. Congress approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Oct. 2002, they effectively gave bush&cheney dictatorial powers, which made possible the invasion in March 2003.

    Recently, it was reported that in 2004, Greenspan, Bernanke, and company on the FOMC discussed the indicators that there was a housing bubble in the U.S., but shut down the discussion. Greenspan made explicit that he didn’t want the democratic public involved in the discussion and that he did not want any oversight. This has continued with “audit-the-fed” amendment watering down that will prevent regular audits (“We don’t want transparency — the public might want some say in how their taxes are being spent.”).

  4. pcurve

    $100 million in trading revenue in a quarter is peanuts. These people are obviously just skimming little bit off transactions, and nibbling small profits from other people’s trades by front running. I don’t know why people give these douche bags so much credit. If they were that brilliant, they’d be making far more off of their prop trading.

  5. anonymous

    $100 million in trading revenue in a quarter is peanuts.

    Now let’s read from the news item:

    Goldman Sachs just revealed in an SEC filing that its traders made money on every single trading day last quarter, a record for the firm. Net revenue for trading was $25 million or higher in all of the first quarter’s 63 trading days with 35 of those days bringing in more $100 million, according to the filing.

    That’s 35 days each of which brought in more than $100 million, or over $3.5 billion, plus the other 63 days each of which brought in over $25 million, but less than $100 million, or at least $1.5 billion. So, for the quarter G/S made over $5 billion, not $100 million.

  6. anonymous

    From G/S’s SEC filing:

    For the three months ending in March, 2010

    Investment banking — $1,184,000,000 ($1.184 billion)
    Trading and principal investments — $9,195,000,000 ($9.195 billion)
    Asset management and securities services — $978,000,000 ($978 million)
    Total non-interest revenues — $11.357 billion

    First quarter 2009 — $7.517 billion

    Revenues increased 34% — no Great Recession for G/S.

  7. pcurve

    Thanks for the corrections. I totally misread it. What the hell was I thinking GS could possibly only make $100million in prop trading in each quarter.

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