Breakingviews

Morgan Stanley growth plays 2016 version of Godot

April 18, 2016

The Wall Street firm’s $1.1 bln Q1 showing makes it unlikely CEO James Gorman will this year hit his 10 pct return on equity target. Even giving investors all the bank’s excess capital wouldn’t do the trick. Cost cuts might help, but higher earnings are taking forever to arrive.

Viewsroom: Coal bust, Bank earnings, Millennial media

April 15, 2016

Peabody Energy's bankruptcy gives Big Oil a glimpse into the future, while energy losses are just one issue U.S. lenders have to contend with. Plus: startup news outlets face age-old problems.

Banks can’t rely on lifeboats when Titanic sinks

April 13, 2016

JPMorgan is among five big U.S. firms that failed the living wills test. That’s because they counted on liquidity from other subsidiaries that could be cut off from providing aid when things go awry. The regulators’ message to Wall Street is clear: every man for himself will prevail in the next crisis.

Morgan Stanley tackling final profits puzzle piece

December 1, 2015

CEO James Gorman may lay off a quarter of fixed-income traders. The unit’s wild quarterly swings usually decide whether the firm hits or misses financial-return targets. While cuts will help, what the bank does with the division’s product mix and capital would be more telling.

Morgan Stanley Q3 casts doubt on low-risk strategy

October 19, 2015

The bank’s $740 mln profit equates to a 3.9 pct ROE, the worst of any big bank. Adding back one-offs takes that only to the 7 pct Goldman managed. CEO James Gorman promised a safer and more solid enterprise than its rival. On this showing, it’s more boring without the benefits.

Wall Street lead over EU banks looks set in stone

June 17, 2015

European trading and advisory revenue is down 30 pct since 2010 while U.S. investment banking has grown. Now Deutsche Bank and HSBC are cutting further, even more ground will be ceded. The region’s tentative recovery and capital markets project offer only slim hope of a reversal.

Morgan Stanley Q1 rivals Goldman by different path

April 20, 2015

James Gorman’s firm had its best quarter in years. Its Wall Street competitor still has the edge with returns and book value growth. By one key metric, though, investors value Morgan Stanley more highly. Gorman’s strategy, which downplays volatile trading, is starting to pay off.

Google’s CFO search should have it feeling lucky

March 24, 2015

There’s a dearth of executives with the financial, tech and government experience needed to help run a $400 bln company. Even fewer women fit the bill. Silicon Valley and Wall Street just can’t find enough Ruth Porats fast enough. The challenge is to create more like her.

Morgan Stanley rains on its own parade

January 20, 2015

The Wall Street firm was progressing nicely in the first nine months of 2014. A dismal fourth quarter, though, exposed cracks that boss James Gorman still needs to fix. Hitting a 10 pct ROE this year may be possible, but could require the Fed’s helping hand on capital return.

James Gorman can leave Brian Moynihan in slow lane

December 18, 2014

The Morgan Stanley and BofA CEOs each marks five years in charge in 2015. Neither has had an easy time of it. Gorman, though, ought to be able to lead his firm back above a 10 pct ROE – an important, if humdrum, ambition. Moynihan’s lending behemoth remains a ways off that.