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Goldman Sachs’ global head of commodities research Jeff Currie, well-known to energy traders for his upbeat predictions, is leaving the Wall Street bank after 27 years in the latest senior departure from the firm.
The analyst made a name for himself after a series of bold and often bullish calls, including predicting the so-called “super cycle” in commodities in the run-up to the oil price hitting an all-time high of $147 a barrel shortly before the great financial crisis.
In a memo to staff on Monday announcing the departure, Goldman’s head of research Jan Hatzius said Currie had “played a significant role in strengthening our commodities franchise”.
“His deep knowledge of global markets and substantial expertise in all areas of commodities have been important to building and deepening relationships with our clients,” Hatzius wrote.
Arjun Murti, a veteran oil analyst who had worked with Currie at Goldman, described him as “irreplaceable” and said his exit was “absolutely an end of an era at Goldman Sachs”.
“Jeff and I both share the intolerance of going with the consensus view. And in a volatile business like commodities, oil and gas, most people like to hug the consensus,” said Murti, who is now an adviser at Veriten, an energy consultancy.
Currie, 56, joined Goldman in 1996 and was made a partner at the bank in 2008.
The cornerstone of his oil market thesis is that continued under-investment in energy infrastructure will lead to commodity price spikes.
Goldman’s commodities business, the result of its 1981 acquisition of J Aron, is one of the dominant trading desks on Wall Street and was a major driver of the firm’s profits in 2022 as it benefited from extreme price swings amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Insiders at the bank often joke that it was J Aron that really took over Goldman. Former chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and his number two, Gary Cohn, both started their careers in commodities, bringing a hard-charging style from the sector, which came to dominate the bank’s old white-shoe culture.
Currie’s time in commodities stretched from the first Gulf war in 1991 to the invasion of Ukraine last year, and included the heyday when Goldman and Morgan Stanley became known as “the Wall Street refiners” because of their blend of physical and financial trading.
Both Wall Street banks built multibillion franchises in the years preceding the financial crisis that other firms tried to replicate, but with limited success.
Goldman’s commodity division was weakened after the financial crisis, however, as tighter regulations resulted in the bank curtailing riskier physical and proprietary trading.
Currie’s forecasts at Goldman remained heavily influential, however, because of his record and the bank’s still sizeable position in commodities trading.
This article has been amended to clarify the number of years that Currie has spent at Goldman Sachs