Tuesday, July 23, 2013

So, Who Organized the Attack on the LME-warehouse-owning Banks? (GS; JPM; BARC)

Most anyone paying attention noted that Sunday's 3600 word New York Times front page article "A Shuffle of Aluminum, but to Banks, Pure Gold" was published two days before today's Senate Banking Committee hearing "Examining Financial Holding Companies: Should Banks Control Power Plants, Warehouses, and Oil Refineries?"

The other thing some have noted is that in addition to the financial journalists covering the story are the non-financial media outlets that have picked it up:

Mother Jones has run three different pieces by their political blogger Kevin Drum:
The Vampire Squid Has Set Its Sights on Your Beer Can
Is It Time to Ban Banks Completely From Commodities Trading?
Goldman Sachs and the Aluminum Warehouses: Part 3

Slate's Matthew Yglesias has two posts:
How Does This Commodities Scam Work?
Aluminum Hoarding Is a Side Effect. The Real Profits Are in Trading.

The Huffington Post had five posts:
Beer Brewers Blast Wall Street Banks Over Aluminum Business Amid Congressional Scrutiny
MillerCoors Urges Federal Reserve Crackdown On Wall Street's Aluminum Dealings
Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase: Pulling an Enron With Commodities
A Shuffle Of Aluminum, But To Banks, Pure Gold 
Big Banks' Aluminum Ploy Driving Up Inequality Even Further

That's quite a little echo chamber.

In addition the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is making noise (FT Jul. 22):

US watchdog acts on metals warehousing
The US commodity futures watchdog has sent letters to metals warehouse owners demanding they preserve records, in a sign of a looming regulatory probe of their storage practices.
Warehouses where metals such as aluminium, copper and zinc are stored have been a target of consumers from Coca-Cola to General Motors, who complain that long queues to remove metal distort prices....MORE
So, who really, really wants GS out of the warehouse business?

As a side note both Yglesias and Drum referred to the person we consider the best financial journalist working right now:
...I was glad to read on email yesterday that I was not the only one confused by the New York Times' expose on Goldman Sachs' Detroit-area aluminum hoarding. If you want to understand what's going on, you have to read Izabella Kaminska's piece for Alphaville.
...Today, Izabella Kaminska of Alphaville confirms that this is the case. But how and where does Goldman make money? I can't pretend to follow every twist and turn of Kaminska's explanation, but here's my take on the basics....