The Twilight of the Goldman Sachs Trading Gods

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Goldman Sachs was once legendary for its trading prowess.

The traders were so admired and envied on Wall Street that people were convinced they had some kind of edge over their counterparts at other firms.

The theories varied, depending on who you asked. They were front-running hedge fund clients, manipulating markets, or using government connections to game policy. Other folks just thought the Goldman traders were smarter than every one else. People said that Goldman was a hedge fund disguised as an investment bank.

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That all changed after the financial crisis.

Lawmakers passed rules to clamp down on proprietary trading by regulated banks. Goldman reorganized itself to be, or appear to be, more client oriented, shutting down some internal hedge funds and eliminating proprietary trading desks. Trading at Goldman was no longer supposed to be about Goldman betting its own money, but about Goldman servicing client orders.

Whatever it was that once made Goldman the envy of Wall Street traders seems to have taken flight.

This was a rough quarter for traders working at the market-making desks all across Wall Street. Everyone is reporting lower revenues, in part because clients were so freaked out by market volatility that many decided to park assets in cash or Treasurys and just sit out 2011.

Goldman’s bond traders seemed to have been tamed. They actually did slightly worse than the bond guys at JPMorgan Chase. Goldman’s stock trading revenues didn’t outshine JPMorgan either.

Read More: http://www.cnbc.com/id/46039205

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