Friday, February 26, 2010

Defining "Wall Street"

People tend to use the label "Wall Street" very loosely. Once upon a time — that is, in the Pre-Lehman Era — people would go to comical lengths to be included in the definition of "Wall Street." In the Post-Lehman Era, of course, "Wall Street" has become a pejorative in the media, and people in the financial industry are walking sideways away from the label. Unfortunately, commentators now simply use the term "Wall Street" to refer to any financial company they don't like, or that they're trying to paint in a negative light. If the SEC fines some random boutique brokerage in California, it's now evidence of "Wall Street corruption." All hedge funds are apparently part of Wall Street now too. Basically, if it's in the financial industry and it's being criticized, it's part of Wall Street.

Given all of this confusion, I thought it would be useful to clarify who exactly I'm talking about when I refer to "Wall Street." I'm not saying that this is the One-and-Only Definition of Wall Street; this is just my definition. Nonetheless, I do think it fairly represents the commonly-used definition within the financial industry.

In general, when I talk about "Wall Street," I'm referring to the major dealer banks (both domestic and foreign) and the two big custodian banks. Specifically, I'm referring to the following institutions:

1. Goldman Sachs
2. Morgan Stanley
3. JPMorgan
4. Deutsche Bank
5. Barclays
6. BofA-Merrill Lynch
7. UBS
8. Citigroup
9. Credit Suisse
10. SocGen
11. BNP Paribas
12. RBS
13. Wells Fargo/Wachovia Securities
14. Nomura
15. HSBC
16. BNY-Mellon
17. State Street

(It's possible that I forgot someone here — it's hard for an old guy like me to keep all the recent reshufflings straight.)

When you hear people in the industry say things like, "the Street is short 2YR swaps," they're generally talking about these institutions. They're not talking about hedge funds, or PIMCO, or boutique firms that have offices in lower Manhattan. It's really just a relatively small group of major dealer banks.

Anyway, I hope this clarifies things a bit.

10 comments:

Phil Koop said...

You've got my support, except that I would normally throw broker/dealers and custodians in the same bin, but unfortunately you are preaching to the choir here. To do any good you somehow have to get that list published in a mass-market outlet like the NY Times.

(Note to editors everywhere: I don't really care how you define "wall street" but can you at least distinguish between the buy-side and the sell-side?)

Kid Dynamite said...

the inclusion of State Street on this list surprises me a little bit. i always think of them as more of 1) buy side money manager and 2) custodial bank

ViewFromAbove said...

BlackRock ???

Anonymous said...

You might have Diablo 3 Goldour assist, but I would commonly chuck broker/dealers as well as custodians inside identical rubbish bin, but unfortunately that you are speaking on the choir the following. To try and do worthwhile an individual in some way should get in which list released in theGW2 Gold kaufen mass-market wall plug such as the New york Situations.

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