TIME Companies

Somebody in China Has Set Up a Fake Goldman Sachs and Is Doing Business

U.S. Stocks Fall From Record as Microsoft, Google Miss on Profit
Scott Eells—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Goldman Sachs Co. logo is displayed at the company's booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on July 19, 2013

Because China

China has been known for ripping off designer goods, iPhones and even public sculpture. Now, financial companies can start worrying about having a Chinese counterfeit too.

American multinational financial giant Goldman Sachs Group Inc. appears to share an English name with Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Co., a financial services company based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. The company also uses the same Chinese moniker (Gao Sheng) as the American one, and even has a similar font for its logo, according to Bloomberg.

A spokeswoman for the American Goldman Sachs, Connie Ling, told Bloomberg that there is no connection between the two companies. A secretary at the Shenzhen company told Bloomberg that no one had ever inquired with her about the similarities.

Name-poaching isn’t the only controversy the company has encountered — it has also been accused of dabbling in money-laundering.

The company first came to light when a U.S. casino workers’ union sent a letter to the Chinese government complaining that the Shenzhen company was linked to the notorious gaming figure Cheung Chi-tai. Chinese prosecutors allege that Cheung in turn has links to organized crime and he is awaiting trial, Bloomberg says.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Goldman Sachs

Meet Goldman Sachs’s Newest Billionaire: the CEO

Robin Hood Veterans Summit
Craig Barritt—Getty Images for The Robin Hood Lloyd Blankfein

His net worth has soared as a result of strong stock performance

Who knew that running one of the world’s most powerful investment banks could be so profitable?

Despite the fact that increased regulation has helped to crimp profits on Wall Street in recent years, shares in Goldman Sachs have doubled in the past three years, gaining enough that the bank’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein has now officially joined the ranks of the billionaire class — he now has a net worth of $1.1 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

Blankfein may, however, be the last investment bank executive to get this rich for some time, as Goldman was the last of the major investment banks to go public. Since Blankfein, the son of a New York postal worker, was a partner at the firm before it went public in 1999, he owns a sizable share of the company, which has more than quadrupled in value since the firm’s IPO.

Blankfein has undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. He rose through Goldman’s trading business to clinch the top job at the bank in 2006.

TIME Uber

Here’s Another Sign Uber Is On The Road To An IPO

Uber Technologies Inc. Application Demonstration
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Uber is already operating in around 300 cities.

A huge Chinese backer is leading a $1 billion-investment

All signs are pointing to an initial public offering for Uber after reports that a major Chinese investment group is leading their latest funding round.

Chinese fund manager Hillhouse Capital Group is leading an investment in the ride-sharing company that could reach around $1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. The convertible bond deal involves buying bonds that can be converted into shares at a discount to the company’s IPO price. The longer it takes for Uber to go public, the greater the return for investors, providing a time-laden incentive for the company to launch an IPO soon. Uber had previously raised around $1.6 billion from the wealth-management division of Goldman Sachs in a very similar deal in January.

The entrance of Hillhouse is also notable for two reasons: The Beijing-based firm is one of the biggest fund managers in Asia, overseeing assets in excess of $20 billion; and Hillhouse’s previous investments in technology firms, such as China’s Tencent Holdings, have paid off.

Working with such a prominent firm also plays well with Uber’s ambitions to go big in China. Earlier this month, CEO Travis Kalanick said in an email that went public that the company’s global team was spending $1 billion on expanding into China, making it the company’s “number one priority”. Uber already operates in around 300 cities.

The deal should also send confusing signals to Didi Kuaidi, the largest taxi-hailing app in China, and, by definition, Uber’s biggest competitor. Hillhouse is also an investor in the Chinese startup, and this latest news will worry them. This comes after tech sites in Asia highlighted a consumer report that Didi Kuadi had experienced more customer data leaks from taxi apps between January of 2014 and May of 2015 in China when compared to Uber.

MONEY Workplace

Goldman Sachs Bans Interns from Pulling All-Nighters at the Office

Bernard Van Berg / EyeEm / Getty Images

The investment bank is putting an end to overnight work in an effort to improve interns' well-being.

Goldman Sachs has a message for its most junior employees: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here all night.

The investment bank is demanding its new summer interns be out of the office between midnight and 7am, Reuters reports. The new policy comes as financial industry, notorious for its grueling hours, tries to make banking a less stressful endeavor.

The 2013 death of a Bank of America intern in London, which may have been partially induced by fatigue, raised awareness of the finance world’s difficult working conditions and sparked reform efforts. Following the incident, Bank of America modified its policies to be more work-life friendly, and recommended analysts and associates “take a minimum of four weekend days off per month.”

Goldman, Credit Suisse, Citi Group, and other banks have made similar reforms, telling its junior bankers to take off Saturdays or weekends, and in Goldman’s case, forming a task force for quality of life issues.

Part of this reduction in hours is due to health concerns, but as the New York Times noted last year, it’s also driven by new competition from other industries, particularly technology firms, that offer the chance of riches and a personal life. This has lead more potential bankers to demand a (slightly) more livable schedule.

“My students, men and women, talk much more openly about an expectation of work-life balance,” Sonia Marciano, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, told the Times. “It’s a shift that seems pretty real and substantial.”

MONEY

Shark Tank’s Daymond John Blew His First $20 Million Before Wising Up About Money

The Shark-Daymond John Presents "Xpensive Habits" Lavo Brunch Sponsored By: Jack Daniels, Miller Lite & Evian Water
Jerritt Clark—WireImage Mark Cuban and Daymond John attends The Shark-Daymond John Presents "Xpensive Habits" Lavo Brunch Sponsored By: Jack Daniels, Miller Lite & Evian Water at Lavo on February 14, 2015 in New York City.

The FUBU founder shares what he's learned about investing since then.

On ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Daymond John scrutinizes the business plans of wannabe entrepreneurs, but how does he manage his own finances?

A self-made businessman, John is actually pretty realistic – working his way up many ladders and learning from failures. A native of Queens, New York, John founded FUBU at age 23 in 1992, riding the wave of hip-hop fashion trends.

Now 46, he has been with “Shark Tank” since its debut in 2009. He serves as a consultant, gives motivational speeches, writes books and is a spokesman for other businesses, such as Gillette.

Reuters spoke with John about how his acumen for business translates to managing his own money:

Q: How much of your net worth is locked away for the future, and how much is at your disposal now?

A: I’ve probably put in 50 percent for long-term, and the rest I play with. I have squirreled away enough to not have to worry about it. Hopefully, I’ll never have to touch it, and it will be passed onto my kids or a great organization.

What I play with now, it can fluctuate. I can end up using a good percentage of it on a great acquisition, or I can hold it.

Q: How involved are you in the management of that money?

A: There are several levels of it. I’m involved when I’m doing my day-trading. When we’re talking about asset allocation, I have very different approaches. I’m with Goldman (Sachs) and various other firms. I kind of let three out of five of them do their own thing. For two out of five, I monitor (my account) over the course of every month or so.

Q: Most of what you do on ‘Shark Tank’ can be considered alternate investments, but do you do anything beyond that to diversify your portfolio?

A: My larger investments have been apparel brands. As for real estate, I’m part of a fund, but I’ve never been that great at real estate.

Q: When you do a promotion like for Gillette’s Shave Club, do you have an investment in that, or is it just for promotion?

A: It’s a brand association. It’s just an investment of my time and my face and my integrity. I don’t take it lightly.

Q: You lend your name to a lot of causes as well. How do you decide what charities get your time and money?

A: It’s not really a planned thing. I try to give on various platforms, and not do too much check-book philanthropy. For some, I will try to make more people aware of the plight, and help get more people to give. To some I will dedicate time, such as my desire to get out word about dyslexia.

Q: Do you have planned giving worked into your estate plan?

A: I don’t have that formal plan – some will go to family and certain small organizations. One is animal related, one is dyslexia, one is hip-hop against violence.

Q: Who first taught you about finance and money management?

A: I got the knowledge by blowing about $20 to $30 million the first time I made it. I’m not one of the few who hit lotto or peaked at 25 as an athlete. I have had several other bites at the apple.

Q: You have listed Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” as one of your favorite books. What have you learned from it?

A: The fundamental lesson to it is it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you save. You should go after small opportunities that have the potential to grow into large opportunities. That educated me on the tool of money.

TIME Companies

Goldman Sachs Is Making New Dads’ Lives Way Easier

Goldman Sachs
Hero Images—Getty Images/Hero Images Father and children using digital tablet in bed

The bank is doubling its paid parenting leave for non-primary caregivers — from two weeks to four.

New fathers working at Goldman Sachs just got some good news.

The giant investment bank is doubling its paid parenting leave for non-primary caregivers, Business Insider reports, citing an internal memo the bank sent out to employees.

Starting this week, new non-primary parents at Goldman will now get four weeks of paid leave in the first year after their child’s birth instead of two weeks. Goldman offers 16 weeks of paid maternity leave; same-sex partners are eligible for the bank’s parenting leave policies.

Laura Young, the head of Goldman’s wellness programs, told Business Insider that several factors went into the bank’s decision to offer more parenting leave to new dads:

‘Mainly, we realized that we have a number of employees where both spouses or partners are working and in order to provide opportunities for them to balance both their work and personal lives, it was important to provide individuals the opportunities to spend more time with their families,’ Young said.

Goldman is not the only Wall Street fixture to offer paid leave for new dads, as Citigroup offers two weeks of paid leave and Bank of America offers 12 weeks. Last year, Change.org made headlines by offering 18 weeks of fully-paid leave to all parents, while both California and New Jersey have installed state-wide, mandatory paid leave programs.

MONEY Customer Service

The Insulting Names That Businesses Call You Behind Your Back

150225_EM_WhatBusinessesCallYou
Lasse Kristensen—Shutterstock

Ever wonder how casinos, car dealerships, restaurants, pay TV providers, and online marketers refer to customers in private? The answers aren't pretty.

You may think you are a living, breathing, thinking, three-dimensional human being. To online marketers, however, you might just be classified as “waste.” That’s one of the revelations in a new report from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Many online marketers use algorithmic tools which automatically cluster people into groups with names like ‘target’ and ‘waste,'” the researchers explain. Those viewed as “targets” based on their personal data and online history are deemed worthy of retailer discounts and deals. On the other hand, because the majority of bankruptcies come as a result of medical expenses, “it is possible anyone visiting medical websites may be grouped into the ‘waste’ category and denied favorable offers.”

It’s insulting enough that your worthiness as a person and potential customer is being judged by some computer algorithm. And yet the words chosen for these groups we’re lumped into make this sifting process more impersonal and insulting still.

The study got us thinking about all the other disdainful, mocking, or otherwise insulting ways that companies have been known to refer to the paying customers and clients that, you know, keep these businesses in business. Even as you essentially pay the bills for these operations, you might be thought of as little more than …

Muppets
In 2012, the very public resignation of Greg Smith from Goldman Sachs revealed that the firm’s executives sometimes referred to clients as “muppets.” Apparently, in the U.K. the slang term is applied to someone who is ignorant or clueless and easily manipulated. In certain circles, an investor might also be dubbed an ostrich, pig, or sheep depending on if he, respectively, buries his head in the sand no matter what’s happening in the market, is overly greedy, or has no strategy and does whatever someone else tells him.

Bunnies, Grapes, Squirrels
Behind the scene at car dealerships, customers who are bad negotiators and easy for salespeople to push around and talk into deals are sometimes known as “bunnies” or “grapes,” presumably because they’re just waiting to be pounced on or squeezed, respectively. A “squirrel,” on the other hand, is a hated species of customer who hops from salesperson to salesperson with no sense of loyalty or thought to who should get the commission.

Dogs, Fish, Bait, Whales
These are all terms used in the world of gambling and casinos, and they generally refer to players who are losing or are likely to lose—to the house, but also to the shark sitting across the table. A “whale,” of course, is a high roller who bets big, and who therefore will probably lose big money at one time or another. For that matter, in the restaurant industry, “whales” are super-wealthy customers with so much money they don’t blink when running up bills into the tens of thousands at overpriced eateries where, for example, a Bud Light costs $11.

Campers, Rednecks
Also in the sphere of restaurants, these are two kinds of customers that seriously annoy the employees and owners. A group of “campers” camps out at their table for hours, eliminating the opportunity for a new party to run up a tab, while a “redneck” is another term for a cheapstake or stiff who doesn’t tip—perhaps because they’re not city folk and aren’t familiar with tipping etiquette.

The N Word
Some waitstaff not only refer to their customers using racial epithets, but they’re also dumb enough to put these derogatory terms in print on diners’ receipts. Examples have popped up in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia, among other places. And yes, the incidents have resulted in lawsuits and people getting fired. On the flip side, some horrible restaurant customers have been known to leave insults (including the N word) instead of tips for their waiters.

Fat
Among the other popular, not particularly creative insults left on receipts is some variation of “fat”—“Fat Girls” and “Pink Fat Lady,” to name a couple specific examples.

The C Word
Yes, some angry Time Warner Cable customer service agent apparently went there, recently renaming a customer as “C*** Martinez” in a letter after she reported a problem with her service.

Assorted Expletives and Insults
The C word episode followed on the heels of multiple reports of agents at Comcast—Time Warner Cable’s equally hated pay TV competitor and would-be partner if the much-discussed merger ever takes place—renaming subscribers things like “A**hole,” “Whore,” “Dummy,” “Super B*tch,” and such. (Only whoever did the renaming at Comcast always used letters instead of asterisks.) There’s a good argument to be made that the absurd pricing and policies installed by pay TV providers are at the heart of why “customer service” agents so often hate subscribers, and why the feeling is mutual.

A Sad Person, a Hateful Mess
You’d think that New York Knicks owner James Dolan—a no-brainer to appear on a wide variety of Worst or Most Hated Owners in Sports in Sports roundups—would have developed a thick skin after years of criticism for astounding ineptness and mismanagement at the helm of one of sport’s most valuable franchises. But Dolan’s response to the recent criticism of one New Yorker who has been a fan of the team since 1952 shows otherwise.

“I am utterly embarrassed by your dealings with the Knicks,” the fan, Irving Bierman, wrote to Dolan, pleading with him to sell the team so that “fans can at least look forward to growing them in a positive direction.” Instead of taking the criticism constructively and thanking Bierman for watching the Knicks for 60+ years, Dolan responded via email by calling him “a sad person,” “a hateful mess,” “alcoholic maybe,” and likely “a negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you.” Dolan finished up the screed by telling Bierman to “start rooting for the Nets because the Knicks dont [sic] want you.”

While certainly extreme, Dolan’s message speaks to the disdain with which some sports owners and certain league executives seem to regard fans—who are supposed to root loyally and pay up for the product as a matter of blind faith, and never to question or criticize. For Dolan’s sake, let’s hope he never listens to sports talk radio. He probably wouldn’t like the ways that people refer to him.

MONEY Oil

Why Oil Prices May Not Recover Anytime Soon

A worker waits to connect a drill bit on Endeavor Energy Resources LP's Big Dog Drilling Rig 22 in the Permian basin outside of Midland, Texas, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.
Brittany Sowacke—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Things could get worse for the oil industry before they get better.

Oil prices have collapsed in stunning fashion in the past few months. The spot price of Brent crude reached $115 a barrel in June, and was above $100 a barrel as recently as September. Since then, it has plummeted to less than $50 a barrel.

Brent Crude Oil Spot Price Chart

There is a sharp split among energy experts about the future direction of oil prices. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal recently stated that oil prices could keep falling for quite a while and opined that $100 a barrel oil will never come back. Earlier this month, investment bank Goldman Sachs weighed in by slashing its short-term oil price target from $80 a barrel all the way to $42 a barrel.

But there are still plenty of optimists like billionaire T. Boone Pickens, who has vocally argued that oil will bounce back to $100 a barrel within 12 months-18 months. Pickens thinks that Saudi Arabia will eventually give in and cut production. However, this may be wishful thinking. Supply and demand fundamentals point to more lean times ahead for oil producers.

Oil supply is comfortably ahead of demand

The International Energy Agency assesses the state of the global oil market each month. Lately, it has been sounding the alarm about the continuing supply demand imbalance.

The IEA currently projects that supply will outstrip demand by more than 1 million barrels per day, or bpd, this quarter, and by nearly 1.5 million bpd in Q2 before falling in line with demand in the second half of the year, when oil demand is seasonally stronger.

That said, these projections are built on the assumption that OPEC production will total 30 million bpd: its official quota. However, OPEC production was 480,000 bpd above the quota in December. At that rate, the supply-and-demand gap could reach nearly 2 million bpd in Q2.

Theoretically, this gap between supply and demand could be closed either through reduced supply or increased demand. However, at the moment economic growth is slowing across much of the world. For oil demand to grow significantly, global GDP growth will have to speed up.

It would take several years for the process of lower energy prices helping economic growth and thereby stimulating higher oil demand to play out. Thus, supply cuts will be necessary if oil prices are to rebound in the next two years-three years.

Will OPEC cut production?

There are two potential ways that global oil production can be reduced. One possibility is that OPEC will cut production to prop up oil prices. The other possibility is that supply will fall into line with demand through market forces, with lower oil prices driving reductions in drilling activity in high-cost areas, leading to lower production.

OPEC is a wild card. A few individuals effectively control OPEC’s production activity, particularly because Saudi Arabia has historically borne the brunt of OPEC production cuts. Right now, the powers that be favor letting market forces work.

There’s always a chance that they will reconsider in the future. However, the strategic argument for Saudi Arabia maintaining its production level is fairly compelling. In fact, Saudi Arabia has already tried the opposite approach.

In the 1980s, as a surge in oil prices drove a similar uptick in non-OPEC drilling and a decline in oil consumption, Saudi Arabia tried to prop up oil prices. The results were disastrous. Saudi Arabia cut its production from more than 10 million bpd in 1980 to less than 2.5 million bpd by 1985 and still couldn’t keep prices up.

Other countries in OPEC could try to chip in with their own production cuts to take the burden off Saudi Arabia. However, the other members of OPEC have historically been unreliable when it comes to following production quotas. It’s unlikely that they would be more successful today.

The problem is that these countries face a “prisoner’s dilemma” situation. Collectively, it might be in their interest to cut production. But each individual country is better off cheating on the agreement in order to sell more oil at the prevailing price, no matter what the other countries do. With no good enforcement mechanisms, these agreements regularly break down.

Market forces: moving slowly

The other way that supply can be brought back into balance with demand is through market forces. Indeed, at least some shale oil production has a breakeven price of $70 a barrel-$80 a barrel or more.

This might make it seem that balance will be reasserted within a short time. However, there’s an important difference between accounting profit and cash earnings. Oil projects take time to execute, involving a significant amount of up-front capital spending. Only a portion of the total cost of a project is incurred at the time that a well is producing oil.

Capital spending that has already been incurred is a “sunk cost.” The cost of producing crude at a particular well might be $60 a barrel, but if the company spent half that money upfront, it might as well spend the other $30 a barrel to recover the oil if it can sell it for $45 a barrel-$50 a barrel.

Thus, investment in new projects drops off quickly when oil prices fall, but there is a significant lag before production starts to fall. Indeed, many drillers are desperate for cash flow and want to squeeze every ounce of oil out of their existing fields. Rail operator CSX recently confirmed that it expects crude-by-rail shipments from North Dakota to remain steady or even rise in 2015.

Indeed, during the week ending Jan. 9, U.S. oil production hit a new multi-decade high of 9.19 million bpd. By contrast, last June — when the price of crude was more than twice as high — U.S. oil production was less than 8.5 million bpd.

One final collapse?

In the long run — barring an unexpected intervention by OPEC — oil prices will stabilize around the marginal long-run cost of production (including the cost of capital spending). This level is almost certainly higher than the current price, but well below the $100 a barrel level that’s been common since 2011.

However, things could get worse for the oil industry before they get better. U.S. inventories of oil and refined products have been rising by about 10 million barrels a week recently. The global supply demand balance isn’t expected to improve until Q3, and it could worsen again in the first half of 2016 due to the typical seasonal drop in demand.

As a result, global oil storage capacity could become tight. Last month, the IEA found that U.S. petroleum storage capacity was only 60% full, but commercial crude oil inventory was at 75% of storage capacity.

This percentage could rise quickly when refiners begin to cut output in Q2 for the seasonal switch to summer gasoline blends. Traders have even begun booking supertankers as floating oil storage facilities, aiming to buy crude on the cheap today and sell it at a higher price this summer or next year.

If oil storage capacity becomes scarce later this year, oil prices will have to fall even further so that some existing oil fields become cash flow negative. That’s the only way to ensure an immediate drop in production (as opposed to a reduction in investment, which gradually impacts production).

Any such drop in oil prices will be a short-term phenomenon. At today’s prices, oil investment will not be sufficient to keep output up in 2016. Thus, T. Boone Pickens is probably right that oil prices will recover in the next 12 months-18 months, even if his prediction of $100 oil is too aggressive. But with oil storage capacity becoming scarcer by the day, it’s still too early to call a bottom for oil.

TIME Companies

Uber Hires Goldman Sachs to Raise Money From Bank Clients

German Court Bans Uber Service Nationwide
Adam Berry—Getty Images A woman uses the Uber app on an Samsung smartphone on Sept. 2, 2014 in Berlin.

Uber is hitting up high-net-worth bank clients for new money

On-demand ride company Uber has hired Goldman Sachs to raise money from the bank’s high-net-worth clients, Fortune has learned.

Goldman’s global wealth management team was informed of the deal this morning, and began sending out packets of information to their clients. All we know right now is that the offered securities are structured as convertible debt, and could raise hundreds of millions of dollars to support Uber’s balance sheet and international expansion efforts.

This offering is completely separate from a previously-reported fundraise targeted at institutional investors, which could raise more than $1 billion at around a $40 billion valuation. Given that Goldman clients would have fewer downside protections and information rights than would the institutional backers, this deal likely comes with a significantly lower valuation.

It is unclear what clients are being told about possible liquidity scenarios, given that they’ll be getting convertible notes for a company that is neither promising an IPO nor one that permits secondary trading of its stock. In the past, Goldman has managed similar fundraises for then-IPO candidates like Facebook.

To date, Uber has raised around $1.5 billion from firms like Benchmark, Fidelity Investments, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures, Google Ventures, TPG Capital, Summit Partners, Wellington Management, BlackRock and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Goldman Sachs also is an existing investor.

An Uber spokeswoman declined to comment.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

MONEY Banking

2 Reasons to Chill Out About Huge Bank Profits—And 1 Reason to Get Angry

JP Morgan Chase, New York, NY
Mike Segar—Reuters

Little more than five years after the darkest point of the Great Recession, banks are again making record profits. Has the world no justice?

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that banks earned more than $40.24 billion in the second quarter, the industry’s second highest quarterly profit in roughly a generation, just behind the $40.36 billion banks earned in early 2013. That may be infuriating to millions of Americans who lost their jobs and maybe even their homes in a recession due in no small part to Wall Street missteps, if not outright malfeasance.

But there are some reasons to take big bank profits in stride…even if they remain a long-term concern.

Other industries are also raking it in.

Record bank profits are making headlines. But that’s because Americans have developed such a disdain for bankers, not because bank profits are particularly extraordinary. In fact, corporate profits, which hit a record $1.7 trillion last year, are higher across the board.

Banks have certainly enjoyed their share of the pie. According to S&P Dow Jones Indices, financial services companies grabbed about 20.3% of all the profits posted by companies in the S&P 500 last quarter. At first blush a fifth of earnings may seem high. Indeed, financial services firms are the most profitable industry that S&P tracks, slightly ahead of technology, which contributes about 17.5% of S&P 500 profits. And unlike tech whizzes whose gadgets improve our lives, bankers don’t “make” anything.

But in the years leading up to the financial crisis, financial services accounted for a much bigger share of profits–at times more than 30%. In fact, today’s level is essentially in line with banks’ 20-year average of 20.2% of profits.

They’re making money on lending, not trading.

The other reason to feel relatively good about rising bank profits has to do with how banks are making that money. Monday’s Journal story emphasized that the jump in bank profits was tied to increased lending levels; commercial lending rose at an annualized 13% rate, while consumer lending climbed 6%.

That’s good news because lending is what we – even those among us who resent bankers – want banks to do. Lending helps businesses grow and helps consumers buy stuff, both of which ultimately help the overall economy. In fact the anti-banking crowd has been complaining that banks haven’t been doing enough lending. So they should take heart that that’s starting to change, even if it means banks are earning enviable profits in the process.

At the same time, the growth in lending contrasts with a still-tepid climate for another traditional profit line: trading. Placing bets–often with borrowed money–on different corners of the stock and bond markets was a huge profit engine for banks in the days before the financial crisis. But it made them riskier, and arguably had much less value for society than lending money directly to businesses. While the second quarter may have been good to banks overall, trading revenue at Wall Street’s biggest firms—Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC. GS -0.43% , JPMorgan Chase & Co. JP MORGAN CHASE & CO. JPM -0.54% , and Citigroup Inc. CITIGROUP INC. C -0.3% —fell 14%, according to Bloomberg, which called the result “the worst start to a year since the 2008 financial crisis.”

The trend has a lot to do with calm stock and bond markets. But don’t count out the effect of new regulations like the Volcker rule.

But lessons have not been learned.

Of course, even with some big caveats it can still seem pretty galling that an industry that received billions in government bailouts less than a decade ago is so wildly profitable, if not quite as wildly profitable as it once was. You may be even more irritated when you consider that banks achieved these profits despite paying more than $60 billion in settlements and penalties since the 2008, which suggests they ought to have been asked to pay even more for their contribution to the crisis. And that Wall Street pay has bounced back almost as quickly as profits.

Then there’s the disturbing fact that the “living wills” submitted by the country’s largest banks—blueprints for safely winding down their activities in the event of another financial crisis—were just last week deemed inadequate by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. In other words, the banks are still “too big to fail,” so taxpayers could again be left holding the bag if the animal spirits get out of control again—and record profits have a tendency to make that happen.

Ultimately, the return to business as usual may, as Fortune recently suggested, give more ammunition to those in Washington who are still calling for stricter banking rules. But given the strength of the business lobby in Washington, don’t expect any miracles.

 

 

 

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