The holiday season and the months prior didn't shine for U.S. investment banks. While the film “The Big Short,” about the 2008 financial crisis, has done well at the box office, the current state of the economy and markets is predicted to have pushed bank revenues to troublesome lows, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
The big five investment banks in the U.S. will present results from the fourth quarter of 2015 in the next two weeks. Credit Suisse estimates that banks will announce an increase of only 2 percent year over year, from $8 billion in core debt sales and trading.
Expectation of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, which did in fact occur, did not move revenue higher, despite analysts’ predictions of such a fluctuation. “These hopes were dashed,” Gerard Cassidy, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, told the Financial Times.
Analysts pegged the low revenues to the typical trading results in the last quarter of the year as well as weak oil prices and the tensions from China that banks faced in 2015.
These fears in the U.S. market from Asia were geopolitical in nature, extending to the volatile governments in North Korea and Saudi Arabia as well as the violence overseas that puts pressure even on corporate deal-making.
For example, just last week, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran. These breaks can prevent mergers, acquisitions and deals from occurring in the region and surrounding areas. The recent Saudi execution of a Shiite cleric, which outraged Iran, “risks to be really explosive in the broader region,” a senior Western diplomat told the Wall Street Journal.
Banks are expected to reveal the cost-cutting measures they are taking in the coming year and also to predict that profits will improve because of the change in interest rates from the Fed. For example, Goldman Sachs predicted that net profits at banks may rise by 2 percent. China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange issued in a statement Sunday attempting to convince investors that China's economy is “stable and healthy.”