The big Wall Street banks have achieved so much control over their industry that they amount to an illegal cartel, says William Cohan, a former banker and the author of many books and articles about Wall Street, including "Money And Power," a book about Goldman Sachs.
The pricing power and profits that the big banks have is similar to that of Standard Oil, Cohan argues, referring to the gigantic oil monopoly owned by John Rockefeller that was broken up a century ago.
Cohan observes that prices of transactions like IPOs and M&A deals are basically fixed across the industry and produce humongous profits. And smaller "boutique" firms are not able to compete on price because they lack the distribution and influence of the biggest banks.
Cohan believes that the government should intervene, breaking the cartel's stranglehold. He notes, however, that a prior case brought against the industry 60 years ago failed. And even if the government were to successfully intervene, the specific remedy is not clear.
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