From September 22, 2008

End of the Wall Street investment bank


(Mike Segar/Reuters)
Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have abandoned their status as investment banks

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley last night abandoned their status as investment banks in a move marking the end of an era on Wall Street.
The two investment houses yesterday received the regulatory approval to transform themselves into traditional bank holding companies.
While the change appears to be a technicality, it means that both banks have equal and permanent rights to access emergency funds from the US central bank, the Federal Reserve. They will also be far more tightly regulated.
After the collapse of Bear Stearns, then Wall Street's smallest investment bank, in February, the Federal Reserve extended its emergency lending facilities — called the discount window — to investment banks as well as commercial ones. Investment banks were more limited with the types of collateral they could use as backing for the Fed loans so were at a disadvantage to their commercial rivals.
The conversion of both banks is a watershed moment for Wall Street, effectively marking the end of the New York investment bank.
The credit crisis, which erupted on Wall Street a year ago, has shown that the business model of the investment bank no longer works. Commercial banks are cushioned by deposits from retail customers who hold savings accounts and mortgages. However, the bulk of business conducted by an investment bank is done with other banks, and such business can be withdrawn with a phone call.
Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, both investment banks, have collapsed, Merrill Lynch was acquired by Bank of America last weekend, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have changed their status.