For Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, two of Wall Street’s biggest commodities-trading firms, the year’s largest initial public offering represents a nightmare come true: the rise of unregulated rivals. In the wake of the financial crisis, governments and regulators such as the Federal Reserve and Basel Committee on Banking Supervision are cracking down on risk-taking at New York-based banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. At the same time Glencore, a 37-year-old company that primarily focuses on physically moving commodities around the world, faces no limits on leverage, proprietary trading or compensation.
“Glencore is unregulated and competes in many of the same businesses,” said William D. Cohan, author of “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World” and a contributing editor to Bloomberg. “It’s based in Switzerland and can do a lot of things that Goldman can’t do anymore.”