The move is the latest example of a Wall Street firm closing units that unambiguously bet banks' own capital--something new legislation attempts to keep banks from doing. Morgan Stanley (MS), Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) have all made similar moves, though the restriction is widely understood to have the largest impact on Goldman's business model. Goldman executives have nonetheless maintained in public comments that the firm will continue to earn "normalized" return on equity of 20%, though that number was just 11.8% in the latest quarter, according to Sandler O'Neill.
Goldman's desk made bets in a wide range of products, but reported its results through Goldman's fixed income division, according to Bloomberg which cited an anonymous source. The fixed income unit had revenues of $13.7 billion in 2010, accounting for about 35% of the total for the year.
Goldman has closed other prop desks in response to the new rules, but still has a larger proprietary unit called the special situations group, which invests in distressed assets. Goldman has no plans to close that desk, which analysts estimate to have $10 billion in assets, the Journal reported.A call to a Goldman spokesman was not immediately returned.