The new rule means the public will no longer be able to tell if large investment banks are manipulating the stock market for their own gain.
The New York Stock Exchange quietly announced last week that it would end its practice of requiring companies to report all their program trading -- a move that helps shield large investment banks, particularly Goldman Sachs, from public scrutiny.
The new rule means the public will no longer be able to tell if large investment banks are manipulating the stock market for their own gain, says Matt Taibbi, the journalist whose Rolling Stone article on Goldman Sachs’ role in asset bubbles over the past century has rocked the financial world.
According to previous NYSE rules, any company that carried out program trading -- essentially, large computer-automated trades worth more than $1 million -- had to report the trades to the NYSE, which then made the information publicly available.
But, under new regulations (PDF) published last week, that requirement has been removed.
"The NYSE announced that it will no longer be releasing its weekly program trading data," Taibbi wrote in a blog posting. "This is quiet obviously a move designed to make it even more impossible to track what’s going on in the NYSE and shield, in particular, Goldman Sachs."
Taibbi argues that the move is designed to protect investment banks from bloggers who are exposing the companies’ stock market manipulations. Goldman Sachs is singled out because the investment bank’s share of principal NYSE trading has gone from 27 percent at the end of 2008 to fully 50 percent of trades in recent months.
Blogs such as Zero Hedge have been using NYSE data to argue that Goldman Sachs now has an almost unfettered ability to control stock prices.
Responding last week to news of the NYSE’s rule change, Zero Hedge argued:
The NYSE has taken action to make sure that nobody will henceforth be able to keep track of the complete dominance that Goldman Sachs exerts over the New York Stock Exchange. This basically ends our weekly Program Trading updates disclosed every Thursday indicating that Goldman has singlehandedly captured all of NYSE’s program trading.
Taibbi’s article on Goldman Sachs’ long history of involvement in asset bubbles and crashes can be found here.