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Island Investing

Riffs, rants, and the upside of investing from way off Wall Street


This Week’s Sign the Lunatics Are Running The Asylum

It’s official. Four big Wall Street banks pitched perfect games last quarter.

The trading departments of Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup each finished the first quarter of this year having made money every single day. According to their SEC filings, their traders did not lose a single penny on a single day the whole quarter. For 61 days in a row. All four of them. Really.

Now I haven’t determined the actual probability of that occurring in a truly free market, but I’m going to guess that it’s indistinguishable from 0.0000. That is, there is zero chance these guys are really that good. (See TARP, 2008.)

But when you’re acting like some kind of emerging market oligopoly, screwing over your own clients and letting computers trade for you, apparently it is just that easy. And as I’ve said before, investors beware. These big banks are lousy businesses. They have no sustainable moats. After all, it wasn’t one bank but four of them that just threw perfect games.

There’s more in this article from the NY Times – although it inexplicably fails to raise the question, “How exactly did this occur?”

This gentleman’s quote pretty much summed it up:

“This is just, as we call it, milking the market and your captive client base.”

Exactly, dear sir. This has nothing to do with talent or being a steward of wealth.

Unbelievable, isn’t it?