On April 9, 1940, an SEC attorney told a Senate subcommittee about a company that had grown so huge that it owned big pieces of several companies — and possibly had allowed its trading operation to help its banking operation.

The SEC lawyer even brought a chart to show the company’s varied tentacles. The chart, introduced as evidence in the congressional hearing, was titled “The Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation.”

That’s a heckuva kicker.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.