Are you, Mr. Mid-Sized-to-Small Banker, being robbed by those who sell you bonds, asset-backed securities and federal funds? Good chance you are.A new Internet startup, FinancialOxygen, says it will change that by posting the inventories of securities of the biggest banks online, showing the yield (and price) of each security. There'll be no middlemen taking a cut, and you might save as much as 20 or 30 basis points. So says founder and CEO, Robert Oxenburgh, a Brit who started his career in the London unit of the old Security Pacific Bank, and later with California-based Bank of America.The service is free to banks with $10 billion and under in assets (the buyers), and is supported by the biggest banks, such as J. P. Morgan Chase (the sellers). The big banks are said to favor it because it cuts their costs while enabling their salespeople to track what mid-sized banks are doing.The structure makes us a bit leery, however. Theoretically, making inventories and prices public should help smaller banks get a good deal. But it also will enable the big ones to know what the competition is charging, which could set a floor on prices. And that, in the long term, would hurt the smaller participants.
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