$$$ Three SAC Executives Received Subpoenas in Probe [WSJ]
$$$ Sequester Means $1 Billion More Of Cocaine Floods Into US: Coast Guard [Breaking Defense]
$$$ Icahn seeks up to $7 billion for Dell bid [Reuters]
$$$ Before Dom Starsia talks about national titles, he unfolds a two-foot-wide spreadsheet that gives University of Virginia recruits a look at life after lacrosse. A big part of the coach’s sales pitch for a university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 is VLAN, or the Virginia Lacrosse Alumni Network, a 300-person database of former male and female players who work in finance and other fields and are willing to help cub Cavaliers get there, too. The database gives a person’s name, firm, industry, title, e-mail and telephone number, says Drew Fox, a managing director at Neuberger Berman Group LLC whom Starsia credits with turning a loose affiliation of former players into an organized pipeline of mentors. “Banker, equity guy, trader, analyst — I don’t even know what those jobs are,” says Starsia, whose teams have produced four national championships and 13 Final Fours over his 21 seasons in Charlottesville. “But I do know it’s an impressive list.” [Bloomberg] Read more »
“You will never see as many great women investors or traders as men. Period. End of story. And the reason why is not because they’re not capable. They’re very capable. Like, one of my No. 1 rules as an investor is as soon as my manager, if I find out that manager is going through divorce, redeem immediately. Because the emotional distraction that comes from divorce is so overwhelming. The idea that you could think straight for 60 seconds and be able to make a rational decision is impossible, particularly when their kids are involved…Take a girl that was my age [20s] at that point in time, particularly back in the 70s. I can think of two that actually started E.F. Hutton with me. Within four years, by 1980, right when I was getting ready to launch my company they both got married. Then they both had, which in my mind is as big of a killer as divorce is, they both had children. And as soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it. Every single investment idea, every desire to understand what’s going to make this go up or go down is going to be overwhelmed by the most beautiful experience which a man will never share about a mode of connection between that mother and that baby. I just see it happen over and over.” [BI]
“Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Aktionäre” [Ladies and gentlemen, dear shareholders]. “Herzlich willkommen zur Hauptversammlung der Deutschen Bank” [A warm welcome to Deutsche Bank's annual general meeting]. Deutsche Bank’s co-chief executive, Anshu Jain, Thursday awed shareholders by giving a two-page introductory speech at the bank’s annual shareholders meeting in…German. It was the moment some shareholders had been waiting for. At last year’s AGM, some German investors had voiced concern as to whether they would need to learn English in order to understand the newly elected co-chief executive of “their bank.” Mr Jain, an Indian-born with a British passport, took office almost a year ago after the shareholder’s meeting, along with co-chief executive Juergen Fitschen, a native German speaker. [WSJ]
On the heels of this, the Aussies have taken an ax to (weekend) food allowances and its (junior) mistmakers, for one, are having none of it! Read more »
“SEC Charges Institutional Shareholder Services …” is the sort of start to a headline that might make you think, ha ha ha SEC, always going after the bit players who keep big companies honest rather than the dishonest companies themselves. How’s Egan-Jones doing? But that wouldn’t be fair, for one thing because ISS – which tells lazy shareholders how to vote on proxy proposals and mergers and stuff – is kind of a Goliath itself these days, though not as much as it was last week. And also because this is really quite intensely bad:
From approximately 2007 through early 2012, an ISS employee (“the ISS Employee”) provided information to a proxy solicitor concerning how more than 100 of ISS’ institutional shareholder advisory clients (i.e., institutional investment managers) were voting their proxy ballots. In exchange for vote information, the proxy solicitor gave the ISS Employee meals, expensive tickets to concerts and sporting events, and an airline ticket. The ISS Employee, who had access to all of ISS’ clients’ proxy voting information, gathered the information by logging into ISS’ voting website from home or work and used his personal email account to communicate voting information to the proxy solicitor.
I mean! It’s not that bad for, like, the world, in the sense that institutional shareholders’ voting plans aren’t really nuclear launch codes or anything. I guess you could get up to some nefarious things with them – insider trading on close votes, etc. – but it sounds like they were mostly used for typical proxy-solicitor purposes.1 Which are mostly (1) calling up the shareholders and being all “hey why don’t you vote for us rather than for the other side?” and (2) impressing their clients with the extent of their knowledge about who’s voting how. I mean, why hire proxy solicitors if not for their knowledge of how investors are voting? You could call the shareholders yourself. One hopes. Read more »
Here’s a fun Libor lawsuit: the ghost of problematic former hedge fund FrontPoint is suing the Libor banks for (1) selling FrontPoint some interest-rate swaps and (2) manipulating Libor in a way that hosed FrontPoint on those swaps. Here is the complaint and here is Alison Frankel on the legal issues, which are interesting and which we can talk about a little below.1
Up here let’s talk about the trades that FrontPoint (and Salix Capital, which now owns these claims) is suing over. They’re interest rate swaps, of course, where FrontPoint received Libor, and where Libor was systematically manipulated lower by banks looking to enhance confidence in themselves by showing lower funding costs. But those swaps were part of a larger negative-basis package trade where (1) FrontPoint bought bonds (funded at a spread to Fed Funds), (2) FrontPoint bought CDS from a bank to hedge credit, and (3) FrontPoint entered into a swap with the bank to hedge interest rates. Schematically, when everything cancels, it looks like this:
If you asked FrontPoint what the trade was they might say “we are betting that the negative basis in these bonds will converge, making the bonds worth more relative to the CDS,” or alternately, that they would just ride the trade to maturity, getting paid that negative basis, and “earn a risk-free return by buying and selling the same credit exposure via alternative instruments in different markets.” That’s what the trade is primarily about: that orange thing in the lower-right-hand corner labeled “(Basis).” Read more »
Global Markets Roiled by Nikkei’s 7.3% Slide (AP)
Several reasons have been blamed for the 7.3 percent fall in the Nikkei index to 14,483.98, including a spike in Japanese government bond yields and unexpectedly weak Chinese manufacturing figures.
Euro-Zone Business Activity Falls Again (WSJ)
Markit Economics said its composite purchasing managers’ index for the euro zone—a measure of activity in the services and manufacturing sectors—rose to 47.7 from 46.9 in April, a stronger outcome than that forecast by economists but still below the level of 50 that separates growth from contraction. Speaking after the surveys were released, a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council said he didn’t expect the euro zone’s economy to pick up in the near future. “From my personal view, I don’t see at the moment any indication of a significant improvement in the economic situation for the immediate future,” said Ewald Nowotny, who is also governor of the Austrian central bank.
Wall Street Seeks Dodd-Frank Changes Through Trade Talks (Bloomberg)
U.S. bankers and insurers are trying to use trade deals, which can trump existing legislation, to weaken parts of the Dodd-Frank Act designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. While the companies say they are seeking agreements that preserve strong regulations and encourage economic growth, their effort is drawing fire from groups who argue that Wall Street wants to make the trade negotiations a new front in its three-year campaign to stop or alter the law.
In a Plus for Electrics, Tesla Repays a Big Federal Loan Early (DealBook)
“Today’s repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department’s portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated,” Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary, said in a statement. … The Energy Department on Wednesday said that losses on its loans were equivalent to 2 percent of its $34 billion portfolio.
Rating agencies under fire again (FT)
… for not upgrading RMBS fast enough.
For Philadelphia Bicyclist, a Cat Is His Co-Pilot (AP)
“People are thrilled to see the guy with the cat ride his bike down the street,” Saldia said. But online commenters have been less kind, questioning whether the unharnessed cat is safe. Saldia noted he is equally vulnerable while riding in the city and takes necessary precautions. “I’m very confident that the cat would be better off in an accident than I would be, so I’m not worried about taking her out,” he said.
Read more »
After continued high-profile security breaches over the past year, Twitter Inc. on Wednesday announced it will bring increased security features to users, a way to further verify a user’s identity when logging in to his or her profile…The process is much like other two-factor authentication services across the Web. When a user tries to log in to his or her profile, they are asked to provide a cellphone number. Twitter sends an SMS message to that phone, and the user is asked to enter that code to continue the login. The new feature is optional, and must be turned on inside the settings menu…The new feature comes in the wake of a string of widely publicized hacks of visible Twitter accounts, including those owned by news outlets like the Financial Times, the Guardian and others. Most recently, when the Associated Press account was hacked, a single alarmist tweet was enough to send U.S. stock markets into a tailspin, plunging the Dow by upwards of 150 points in a matter of minutes. [WSJ, earlier]