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商业 - 金融

监管之争:投机交易报亏,高盛授人以柄

Brendan Coffey 2011年10月20日

高盛亏损的原因正在于它从事了沃尔克法则所反对的一切高投机性经营活动,其中包括投资中国工商银行股票,它导致了10多亿美元的损失。

    高盛(Goldman Sachs)公布了上市以来的第二个季度亏损,这也是它2008年底那些灰暗的日子以来首次出现这种情况。这个消息也让保罗•沃尔克有了更加充分的理由来进一步加大力度,推动其“取缔投资银行自有账户交易”的提案。

    基本上,沃尔克法则的目标是让投资银行回归传统业务:经纪交易,为美国企业提供可靠的融资平台,以及管理美国商业领域的资金。然而,随着时间的推进,银行业不再满足于通过为他人赚钱而收取费用,而是决定为自己赚钱,用自有资金进行大量交易。事实上,他们变得有点像对冲基金,成为规模庞大的投机冒险机器。正是这些自有资金参与推动了2008年的世界经济危机,此后,沃尔克一直在倡议遏制此类行为,呼吁投行应专注于传统职责,为金融市场提供流动性和专业服务。

    高盛本季度表现到底如何?事实上,可以说相当好。当然,前提是只是看它作为投资银行分内的业务。高盛的投行业务实现了盈利,包括金融咨询服务和股票承销。机构客户服务(如执行交易)也实现了盈利。投资管理业务(包括保持创纪录的企业现金的安全)同样也实现了盈利。

    那么,它本季净亏损4.28亿美元到底从何而来?亏损正是源于沃尔克所说的银行不该从事的交易。

    高盛直管自有资金交易的投行部门损失惨重。高盛自有账户在股票组合上损失超过10亿美元,在债券市场中损失9.07亿美元,对中国工商银行(the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China)的超大规模投资减值10.45亿美元——总损失高达25亿美元,这也是周二早间高盛股价低开的原因。

    高盛的捍卫者们可能会举出以往这部分业务为公司带来高额利润的那些季度,包括去年所持工商银行股票带来的数十亿美元增值。但沃尔克和呼吁投行改革的人士表示,大型金融机构是国民经济的重要基础,没有理由放任美国经济被大金融机构的投机失败所劫持,也没有理由在这些投机失控时拿纳税人的钱来救助(2008年就是一个例子)。

    IPO市场走弱导致的亏损是一回事。但是,如果因为赌定日本商人会把更多时间花在打高尔夫上,从而导致亏损就是另外一回事了。

    Goldman Sachs reported just its second quarterly loss since it went public and the first since the dark days of late 2008. It also gave Paul Volcker a great big reason to push harder for his proposal to clamp down on investment banks trading for their own accounts.

    Basically, the Volcker rule aims to get investment banks back to what they historically do: broker trades, act as a trusted vehicle to get corporate America funding, and manage the commercial sector's money. Over time banks decided they wanted to make their own money and trade heavily for their own benefit rather than relying on fees from making other people money. Essentially, they became like hedge funds -- big speculative, risk-taking machines. Volcker has been proselytizing to rein them in since these in-house funds helped crash the world economy in 2008, arguing they should focus on their traditional roles of providing liquidity and expertise to the financial markets.

    How did Goldman do this quarter? Pretty good, if you look just at what an investment bank is supposed to do. The bank made money from its Investment Banking arm, which includes financial advisory services and equity underwriting. It made money on Institutional Client Services, such as executing trades. It made money on Investment Management, which includes keeping safe the record levels of cash corporations hold.

    So how did it post a net loss of $428 million this quarter? By doing all those things Volcker says banks shouldn't be doing.

    Goldman's Investment & Banking division, which is its umbrella division for trading its own capital to make profits, took a bath. Goldman's house account lost over $1 billion on its equities portfolio, got burned for $907 million in losses in the debt market and saw its outsized investment in the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China drop $1.045 billion in value -- a total loss of $2.5 billion and the reason Goldman shares have opened weaker this morning.

    Goldman (GS) defenders will point to prior quarters where the division posted large profits for the company, including a multi-billion gain on its ICBC shares last year. But Volcker and other investment banking reformers say that there's no reason for the economy to be held hostage to bad speculative bets by institutions that are a fundamental part of a working economy - and take taxpayer bailouts when those bets get out of hand (see 2008).

    It's one thing to lose money because the IPO market has softened. It's another to lose money betting Japanese businessmen will play more golf.

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