Almost 65 years ago, in 1947, the U.S. government sued 17 leading Wall Street investment banks, charging them with effectively colluding in violation of antitrust laws.
In its complaint — which was front-page news at the time – — the Justice Department alleged that these firms had created “an integrated, overall conspiracy and combination” starting in 1915 “and in continuous operation thereafter, by which” they developed a system “to eliminate competition and monopolize ‘the cream of the business’ of investment banking.”
The U.S. argued that the top Wall Street investment banks – – including Morgan Stanley (MS) (the lead defendant) and Goldman Sachs — had created a cartel by which, among other things, it set the prices charged for underwriting securities and for providing mergers-and-acquisitions advice, while boxing out weaker competitors from breaking into the top tier of the business and getting their fair share of the fees.
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