Banks Rack Up A Perfect Quarter In Trading, Thanks To The U.S. Taxpayer

Last Updated May 12, 2010 11:10 AM EDT

Bloomberg tells us that in their regulatory reports for 1Q 2010, all the four jumbo banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BankAmerica and Citigroup) showed perfect trading results in 2010's first quarter -- that is, they showed a profit every day. Most of the TARP and similar programs may be paid back (with the exception of Citi, I believe), but these results show us just how much the Fed's easy money policies are providing ongoing subsidies to the banks.

I wish I had found this item, but thanks to David Mildenberg and Dawn Kopecki of Bloomberg for poring over the banks' Forms 10-Q. They report:

The trading results, which helped the banks report higher quarterly profit than analysts estimated even as unemployment stagnated at a 27-year high, came with a big assist from the Federal Reserve. The U.S. central bank helped lenders by holding short-term borrowing costs near zero, giving them a chance to profit by carrying even 10-year government notes that yielded an average of 3.70 percent last quarter.
At Goldman Sachs, which is contesting a fraud lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission tied to the sale of a mortgage-linked security in 2007, net revenue was $25 million or higher on each of the days it traded. The New York-based firm said it made more than $100 million on 35 of those days, or more than half the time.
My goodness.

The Obama administration is trying to fix regulations that will stop banks from running proprietary trading desks, of which their total trading is only part. The banks are complaining about having to shut down these sandboxes, and I guess they have to, in order to defend their franchises.

But wouldn't it be great if we saw on the highway, or the Jumbotron at the ballpark, or big ad in the paper: