How Goldman's "Recommended Top Trades" Cost Clients Billions And Contributed To Goldman's Perfect Record

Zero Hedge has long discussed the strange phenomenon whereby Goldman recommends a trade only to unwind it shortly, after institutional clients who have been naive enough to follow it, end up losing millions, sometimes in a period as short as a few days. The observation there being that the only way Goldman scores something like a perfect 63 out of 63 quarter is by literally raping its clients, along the lines of what Goldman is currently facing civil and criminal probes for allegedly doing in the CDO space. And while our rant has been public for quite some time, yesterday was the first time the Bloomberg also decided to join the fray.

Presenting exhibit A: Goldman's recommended top trades for 2010



It may come as no surprise to you that had you followed these 9 trading recommendations, you would have made money on precisely two of them. And here don't even discuss the well documented flipflopping in the FX department's EURUSD recommendations, in which the firm changed its view on the euro three times in the span of a month, being stopped out every single time!

Here is Bloomberg's commentary on this:

Seven of the investment bank’s nine “recommended top trades for 2010” have been money losers for investors who adopted the New York-based firm’s advice, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from a Goldman Sachs research note sent yesterday. Clients who used the tips lost 14 percent buying the Polish zloty versus the Japanese yen, 9.4 percent buying Chinese stocks in Hong Kong and 9.8 percent trading the British pound against the New Zealand dollar.

Goldman Sachs analysts made eight trade recommendations for this year in December, including telling clients to buy the British pound against the New Zealand dollar. On April 1, Goldman Sachs added a ninth “top” trade, telling clients to buy Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong and predicting the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index would rise 19 percent to 15,000.

Since then, the gauge has slid 9.4 percent to 11,426.18. The Shanghai Composite index has entered a bear market, losing about 21 percent this year. That’s the third biggest decline in the world after Greece and Cyprus. The decline accelerated this month on concern Greece, Spain and Portugal will struggle to finance their budget deficits and dismantle the euro.

The Chinese stock recommendation was made by a group led by Dominic Wilson, a senior Goldman Sachs economist in New York. Wilson cited inexpensive valuations and “robust” economic growth. He also said investors have already factored in the risk of higher interest rates in China.

Wilson wasn’t available to comment because he was out of the office traveling, according to an e-mail.

Of course, Goldman's losses are its clients' gains, and more significantly, vice versa:

Goldman Sachs makes more money from trading than any other Wall Street firm. In the first quarter, the bank’s $7.39 billion in revenue from trading fixed-income, currencies and commodities dwarfed the $5.52 billion made by its closest rival, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp. In equities, Goldman Sachs’s $2.35 billion in revenue was about 50 percent higher than its nearest competitor.

And this is a firm that is now trying to convince pension funds to put more money in the firm, when instead it should be convincing Christine Varney it is not the biggest market monopolist since Standard Oil and Ma Bell.