Goldman Tries Sucking Up to Regulators

NEW YORK ( TheStreet)-- JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon may enjoy bureaucrat bashing, but Goldman Sachs ( GS) looks to be taking a different tack.

Big banks like Goldman and JPMorgan are facing a host of new rules, which have made a noticeable dent in investor enthusiasm for the banking industry. But while the tough-talking Dimon lashed out at the "hundreds of rules, many of which are uncoordinated and inconsistent with each other," in his annual shareholder letter, Goldman CFO David Viniar took a much more cautious tack during the bank's first-quarter conference call on Tuesday
Goldman Sachs CFO David Viniar says Goldman is "very supportive of what regulators try to do"

"We're very supportive of what they try to do and I think they are really trying hard to do this, but it's a difficult task and they recognize all of the issues involved," Viniar said of the regulators.

Goldman and JPMorgan face a host of new rules, including the Volcker Rule, which will limit banks' ability to make directional market bets, and tough new international capital requirements known as Basel III.

Beyond simply being cautious in its public statements, Goldman may even have reined in its traders' risk-taking beyond what is legally required at this point, according to Sanford Bernstein analyst Brad Hintz.

Goldman's value at risk--a measure of how much trading desks put at risk in a single trading day, went down during the quarter, something Hintz found curious.

"Goldman did not push the pedal to the metal in what was pretty much a one-way market in credit. In a one-way market in credit you would have taken leverage up and you would have increased risk positions and you would have made a lot of money if this was 2006," Hintz said. "Well, they made money and it was a good quarter for them but certainly you had a management team that seemed to be holding the reins a little bit tighter than they did before the crisis, and it strikes me that there's a reason for that, which is we're in a Presidential election year Goldman certainly has been vilified by the press and every American on the other side of the Hudson so in that environment maybe it isn't so good to really push the trading envelope."

Hintz also pointed out that with regulators working on Volcker, it may not be the best time to give them clues about where they need to clamp down.

"Maybe I want to just control my appetite in an environment where the new rules that are going to affect how I operate for the foreseeable future are being drafted," Hintz contended.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Follow me on Twitter
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.