Goldman Sachs thriving as Trump era set to begin
Things may be changing in the nation’s capital, but it’s still business as usual for Goldman Sachs, the so-called Vampire Squid of Wall Street. Goldman reported earnings and revenues for the fourth quarter that easily topped Wall Street’s forecasts.
Goldman Sachs, like many other big banks, enjoyed a pop in bond trading following the election of Donald Trump. Investors have bet that interest rates will rise thanks to Trump’s plans to potentially spend $1 trillion on infrastructure to boost the economy.
Trading revenue for bonds, currencies and commodities soared nearly 80% from a year ago, helping Goldman Sachs to post overall revenue of $8.2 billion and a profit of nearly $2.4 billion.
But investors will be interested to see whether Goldman continues to thrive under Trump. The President-elect claimed during the campaign that Goldman had “total control” over his opponent Hillary Clinton.
And the investment bank’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein said at an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal in September that the thought of Trump having his “finger on the button blows my mind” — an apparent reference to a president’s ability to launch nuclear weapons.
Blankfein did not mention Trump or the changing political landscape in the company’s earnings report on Wednesday, however.
Related: Goldman Sachs accounts for nearly a quarter of Dow’s post-election surge
He merely said that he was pleased the bank did well in the fourth quarter “after a challenging first half” and that the “environment improved” later in the year.
So investors will be looking for Blankfein to elaborate on just how much has changed since Trump’s win.
Blankfein, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, was not on the company’s conference call with investors Wednesday morning though.
New Goldman Sachs president and co-COO Harvey Schwartz led the call, with deputy CFO Martin Chavez also participating.
Two of Blankfein’s competitors, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, were more vocal in recent earnings conference calls with investors about how sentiment has seemed to change for the better on Wall Street and with consumers after Trump’s win.
It’s also worth noting that, despite Trump’s attacks on Goldman Sachs during the campaign, he has started to stack his administration with alumni of the powerful bank.
Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and chief strategist Steve Bannon both worked at Goldman.
Related: Gary Cohn leaving Goldman Sachs to become Trump’s top economic adviser
And Gary Cohn, formerly Goldman’s chief operating officer and a person widely thought to be a potential successor to Blankfein, has left Goldman to become Trump’s chair of White House National Economic Council.
Schwartz said the firm will miss Cohn and was proud of both him and the fact that Goldman Sachs has a long tradition of executives serving key roles in Washington.
With that in mind, the perception that Goldman Sachs, which also had executives serve in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, is Government Sachs — a company with an inordinate amount of influence in Washington — may not change much under Trump.
One analyst, Glenn Schorr of Evercore, even joked on the Goldman Sachs conference call that maybe some of the bank’s former employees will tweet more to help increase trading activity.
The expectation that Trump will be pro-Wall Street is also a reason why shares of Goldman Sachs, along with rivals JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, have soared since the election. Even scandal ridden Wells Fargo has surged.