25 October 2012

Wall Street 'Eat-what-you-kill' System

The claim by the ex-Goldman Sachs staffer Greg Smith should not surprise anyone. Business by definition features an inherent conflict between seller and buyer. While one looks to achieve the highest price possible the buyer wants the exact opposite. Competition (and a dose of ethics) provide the safety valve against the exploitation of customers. The egregious margins achieved in other sectors of the economy - luxury goods for example - could easily also be accused of 'eating and killing' the customers. The lesson that should be learned by all investors - be they small or large individual investors or 'sophisticated' institutions - is that 'buyer beware' is essential when considering to enter into financial transactions, - especially when the other side possibly has an information advantage and is incentivised to exact the maximum possible gain from the counter party.