Weekend at Bernanke’s II
Six months ago, the nation had five independent investment banks: Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley (MS), Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs (GS). That number soon dwindled to four. And then to three. And by last week’s end, only two investment banks remained. Now those two are gone as well. The Federal Reserve Board hammered the final nail in the coffin of independent investment banks Sunday evening, allowing Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to become bank holding companies.
From the Fed’s announcement:
To provide increased liquidity support to these firms as they transition to managing their funding within a bank holding company structure, the Federal Reserve Board authorized the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to extend credit to the U.S. broker-dealer subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley against all types of collateral that may be pledged at the Federal Reserve’s primary credit facility for depository institutions or at the existing Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF); the Federal Reserve has also made these collateral arrangements available to the broker-dealer subsidiary of Merrill Lynch.”
The transformation of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley into traditional bank holding companies effectively marks the end of the investment banking industry as we’ve know it. It puts the two firms squarely under the oversight of national bank regulators. And while this will subject them to new capital requirements and additional supervision, it also will allow them to take commercial deposits. And, of course, it will grant them access to the Fed’s emergency lending facilities. Which must be a wonderful thing to have in this time of “rapid and profound change” on Wall Street, as Morgan Stanley likes to describe it.