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US Investment Banking Returns To Spotlight
In US, the strategy "the last man standing" worked as it pays off.
From the trading and advisory units of JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup, the third-quarter results last week showed two of the top three banks were the cream of the crop of the investment-banking revenues, suggest that more good news is likely from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as reported on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
Revenues from corporate and investment banking unit were a $9.5bn, boosted in specific by vibrant fixed-income markets after the Brexit vote hailed. There were plenty of action in currencies at JP Morgan. Citi had a bumper quarter as well, in bond trading, with revenues from that division went up more than a third from a year to $3.5bn.
For JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon and Mike Corbat of Citi, it is a vindication. For UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche which are second-tier banks have made cuts in investment banking, as beaten back in many cases by investors who demand higher returns, the big US banks have their teeth gritted, and have preserve much after staffing and infrastructure while they assure their customers that around the corner were better numbers.
Goldman Sachs' executives has been challenge for that stance. The executives were taken to task by analysts in July after four quarters in a row of subpar returns. The bank earlier this year, trimmed about 10 percent of its staff in fixed-income sales and trading. This is a much bigger cull than the usual bottom which is five percent each year. Currently, it is cutting about 30 percent of its investment bankers bases in Asia. Citi has decided to stick by the investment bank while it picks apart its retail-banking business but has to justify its decision of doing it. Japan, Brazil and Argentina are pulling out of markets and closing hundreds of branches way back home.
Their patience could now be rewarded. For instance, at JP Morgan, net income from the corporate and investment banking nudged ahead of profits from the consumer and community banking (CCB) unit for over its first nine months. Marking a break from the post-crisis. The gap in profits was $2.3 bn in 2014 in CCB's favor and $1.7 billion in 2015.
Both Citi and JP Morgan has been in a standout division with a fixed-income, currencies and commodities which particularly bodes well for Morgan Stanley. It has made huge cuts to its FICC business in years at recent as chief executive James Gorman, tries to rebalance towards wealth and asset management.
In third quarter, the net income doubles despite patchy performance from retail unit.The bank is still shooting for about $1bn of revenues a quarter from its pared-down FICC business and seems likely to clear that hurdle this time, granting that it has the same mix of activities to its interest rates across foreign exchange, commodities and credit.
"The good news was that FICC strength was so broad-based," says, analyst at JMP Securities, Devin Ryan speaking about JPMorgan. He further added "The biggest takeaway was the health of those investment-banking businesses."
An analyst at Macquarie, David Konrad noted that momentum may not last. The boost of the third- quarter may be the effect of Brexit. While July-September period in 2015 made for some easy year-on-year comparisons. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman's chairman and chief executive, noted unusually thin and brittle market as the bank missed analysts' profit forecasts for the first time in four years.
Joo-Yung Lee, head of the North American Financial Institutions group at Fitch Rating, pointed out that "Banks are not sitting there waiting for the regulators; they're doing their own reviews, making sure there's nothing untoward,"
The head of JP Morgan was so happy of the result told his staff to keep up their good work.