Document Type


Publication Date



Banking and Finance Law | Commercial Law


This Article explores the legal, regulatory, policy, and theoretical aspects of an ongoing transformation of large U.S. banking organizations into global merchants of physical commodities and energy. In the absence of detailed and reliable information, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions as to the social efficiency and desirability of allowing this transformation to continue. What we can already ascertain about U.S. financial institutions' physical commodity assets and activities, however, raises potentially serious public policy concerns that must be addressed through a fully-informed public deliberation. Even if big U.S. FHCs were, in fact, to scale down their physical commodity operations either in response to current regulatory developments or as a temporary market adjustment, it would not obviate the need for such deliberation. Addressing these policy concerns in a timely, open, and publicly minded manner remains a task of the utmost importance, both as an economic matter and as a matter of democratic governance.


This article predates the author's affiliation with Cornell Law School.

Publication Citation

Published in: Minnesota Law Review, vol. 98, no. 1 (November 2013).