Trading from derivatives is still the driving engine to a large portion of the profits banked by the big three, particularly in fixed income -- where every financially distressed commercial entity and municipality had to look again to the same banks that had abandoned them in the last year for necessary refinancing and revitalization.
From the oil and other commodity perch, trading in 2009 looks also to be pacing the best year ever. With oil zooming from a low of $35 a barrel to a high of $82 a barrel in less than eight months, it is clear that volatility is the key to high profits, and not necessarily high or low prices. Both Goldman and Morgan Stanley have said 2009 will be "particularly strong" as they continue to refrain from quoting hard numbers.
If you're like the rest of the American people, this can only make you mad. But, you can't get even. So, if you can't beat 'em, maybe it's best to join 'em and buy these two powerhouse stocks.
But, because they've run so much, there's timing involved and here's how to work it.
Whenever there's further talk of reform bills and regulation from the Congress, these two banks necessarily take a hit in share price. This happened as talk of the bill sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) and its specifics made the rounds in the media in the past week. We saw Morgan Stanley slide down from $35 to $32 and Goldman trade from about $187 a share to closer to $170.