BOSTON (TheStreet) — A so-called Chinese Wall is supposed to exist between investment banks’ research and asset-management divisions, but recent calls, especially coming from subprime-securites proponent Goldman Sachs(GS_), warrant further scrutiny.
Goldman helped to catalyze the recent commodity sell-off as its researchers expected little upside when the economy hit a soft patch. Crude oil tumbled beneath $100 on that report. Then, two days ago, with few fundamental changes in the demand outlook, Goldman reversed its stance, advising clients to buy.
This flip-flopping from Wall Street’s most closely followed researcher is being perceived by some as client-fleecing since the bank is able to trade in proprietary accounts before it releases research and the markets react, as they often do to Goldman’s calls.
Similarly, many sell-side researchers award stocks “buy” or “overweight” ratings even as their internal asset-management units unload shares, presenting a conflict of interest and ethical dilemma. Goldman’s most famous front-runs to date were the Abacus transactions, through which the bank allegedly postured for high ratings for its mortgage-backed CDOs, sold them to clients and then shorted them.
News broke yesterday, or rather, a blogger pulled data yesterday to show that Goldman dumped 1,260,802 shares of Apple(AAPL_) during the first quarter, even as its research division rated the stock “buy” and maintained its lofty $470 target. Little due diligence is done in the journalism community on the interplay between asset-management and research units.Twitter