armstrongeconomics.com / by Martin Armstrong / Sep 22, 2016
The Federal Reserve wants to take away the ability of Goldman Sachs and other banks to invest in companies rather than acting as bankers and lending. The U.S. banking regulators are urging Congress to prohibit merchant banking where firms buy stakes in companies rather than lend them money. They are pushing for limits on Wall Street’s ownership of physical commodities after lawmakers accused Goldman Sachs and other banks of seizing unfair advantages in metal and energy markets in recent years.
Merchant banking has generally become the business of making private equity investments in non-financial firms, in particular, equity investments that have a venture capital character. Based upon a report on a multi-agency study of banks’ investment activities required by the Dodd-Frank Act, they highlighted ways to fix potential risks that regulators didn’t think were handled by the Volcker rule ban on certain trading and investments. However, Congress needs to pass legislation and they are subject to bribes that we call lobbying, which presents the greatest hurdle to actually changing anything. The Fed’s recommendations on merchant banking would end the ability to operate mines, warehouse metals, and engage in shipping oil.
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