Fed Wants To Bar Banks From Owning Physical Commodities, Equities

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other banks that invest in companies are officially on notice: The Federal Reserve wants that ability taken away.

Among several recommendations issued by U.S. banking regulators, one from the Fed urged Congress to prohibit merchant banking, in which firms buy stakes in companies rather than lend them money. In a report released Thursday, the agency also pushed for limits on Wall Street’s ownership of physical commodities after lawmakers accused Goldman Sachs and other banks of seizing unfair advantages in metal and energy markets in recent years.

The report — based on a multi-agency study of banks’ investment activities required by the Dodd-Frank Act — highlighted ways to fix potential risks that regulators didn’t think were handled by the law’s Volcker Rule ban on certain trading and investments. The need for Congress to pass legislation presents the greatest hurdle to the Fed’s recommendations on merchant-banking and the ability of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to operate mines, warehouse aluminum and ship oil.

“Congress has an obligation to give their recommendations serious attention,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, the most senior Democrat on the Banking Committee, said in a statement.

Read on.

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