Archive for December 2010

At least, that’s what one gathers from the defacing he did to Mr. Maounis’s e-card sent out to investors in the new, less Brian Hunter-y fund, Verition, pictured here.

And the response by the Amaranth investor who for some reason was on the distribution list. Read more »

As you may have heard, speculation is mounting that New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan and his wife have starred in some foot fetish movies that can be found on the internet. In addition to forensic evidence that seems to point to the couple’s involvement in the foot appreciation flick (the woman’s resemblance to Michelle Ryan is uncanny, the voice of the guy off-screen sounds like Rex, the profile user “ihaveprettyfeet” can also be found on an online dating site where her location is the same Maryland city MR lived in when her husband was an assistant coach with the Ravens, the biographical information listed for “ihaveprettyfeet” matches that of Mrs. Ryan, as does the height differential between “ihpf” and her spouse to that of the Ryans), the fact that a Jets spokesman’s comment to the press was “This is a personal matter,” seems to indicate the Ryans may really love feet and the idea of people watching them love their feet. Think this story doesn’t impact your life? THINK AGAIN! Read more »

I wrote recently about the Bank of England sowing the seeds of their next banking crisis by deciding to reduce bank examinations. Spencer Bachus (R. Ala.), the incoming Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, told the Birmingham News: “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.” Read more »

Poker Lessons For DB Readers

Are you as bad at poker as the editor of this site? You’re in luck–through our partners at Gilt, we’re offering you a one-on-one poker lesson with a World Series of Poker finalist. As an added bonus, the instructor, Clayton Fletcher, is also a comic. After the one-hour poker lesson there will be a reception at CB’s Comedy Club at Caffe del Mare. And you’ll get tickets to Fletcher’s next show. And really, you should be able to make back the price of the lesson after an hour at the tables. The sale for Dealbreaker readers starts today and runs through December 28th. Fletcher has slots open from January 3rd until February 21st. Click here for all of the information.

If Elizabeth Warren offers you a cup of tea, don’t accept. I’ve been known to pinch a penny myself, but when President Obama’s choice to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau pulls a rumpled gray object with a tail out of her desk drawer, even I blanch. It looks more like a dead mouse than a used tea bag. “I know,” she says, laughing, when I express surprise. “But I just can’t stand the waste of throwing out a tea bag after one use. It’s like a knife in the gut for me.” [Vogue]

Earlier last year, Bank of America made headlines for one of its more notable foreclosure cases, wherein an employee of the firm “erroneously believed” Angela Iannelli’s house was vacant and dispatched a contractor to change the locks and “secure” the property. The fact that the home was neither vacant nor in default is not where BAC wins applause, however– any bank worth its salt has accidentally foreclosed on a few houses it wasn’t supposed to. What set this story apart was that in addition to being locked out of her house, Iannelli’s beloved parrot, with whom she had cohabitated for 11 years, was seized, a separation that caused her “so much emotional distress that she needed a prescription medication for anxiety.” Bank of America initially denied having taken the pet-friend, told Iannelli they were “tired” of hearing from her, and hung up on several times. Finally, someone copped to having the bird, and they made her drive 80 miles to retrieve it.

A worthy entry for the foreclosure excellence awards distributed by an independent panel each year to be sure. But was this simply a one-off deal? It’s something to be proud of, yes, but some wondered if Bank of America could make magic happen twice. Turns out the answer yes a resounding hell yes. Read more »

  • 22 Dec 2010 at 7:57 AM

Opening Bell: 12.22.10

A Trader Hoards Copper In London (WSJ)
As commodity prices soar to new records, the ability of a few traders to hold huge swaths of the world’s stockpiles is coming under scrutiny. The latest example is in the copper market, where a single trader has reported it owns 80% to 90% of the copper sitting in London Metal Exchange warehouses, equal to about half of the world’s exchange-registered copper stockpile and worth about $3 billion.

Ernst Accused Of Lehman Whitewash (WSJ)
The lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, alleges that the firms engaged in practices to temporarily erase as much as $50 billion in Lehman assets. This often occurred near the end of a quarter, allegedly making the company look much healthier than it was. Ernst “directly facilitated” an accounting sleight of hand that burnished the securities firm’s balance sheet, Mr. Cuomo claimed in the lawsuit. Ernst & Young said in a statement that there was “no factual or legal basis” to bring a claim against the firm, and that it would vigorously defend against the claims in Mr. Cuomo’s lawsuit. Lehman’s accounting was in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, Ernst said, and Lehman’s bankruptcy “was not caused by any accounting issues.”

Bankers Worldwide Brace For 7% Drop In Bonuses (Reuters)
Although most banks have not yet informed staff of their actual bonuses for 2010, the dismal expectations reflect the fact that generally bankers, traders, and salespeople have been told to be ready for a low payout. “Flat is the new up,” one U.S. banker said.

Deutsche Bank Tax Deal Opens Floodgates (Reuters)
Deutsche Bank’s U.S. tax fraud settlement has heightened expectations of more deals being struck as American authorities target overseas banks in a crackdown on tax dodgers. U.S. prosecutors are pushing ahead with more probes, emboldened after top Swiss wealth manager UBS had to hand over the details of 4,450 clients. Leads from that case have helped investigators look at banks in Asia and the Middle East, while clients from HSBC have also been under scrutiny, lawyers have said.

Bank of Moscow in embezzlement probe (FT)
City mayor Mr Luzhkov was fired by the Kremlin in September amid allegations that he ran Moscow as a personal fiefdom. Yelena Baturina, his wife, rose to become Russia’s richest woman with a vast construction and property business. “A criminal investigation has been opened at Bank of Moscow in connection with an alleged embezzlement,” Viktor Biryukov, a Moscow interior ministry official, said on Tuesday. He declined to elaborate on details of the case. However, state news agencies linked the probe to a 2009 deal in which the Bank of Moscow lent Rbs12.76bn to a real estate company that then bought land at a price believed by market analysts to be over-priced from Ms Baturina, whose company, Inteko, was overburdened by debt.

Stopgap Bill Hamstrings Government Programs (NYT)
The Securities and Exchange Commission has stopped hiring and halted most travel by agency officials. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to nations like Pakistan is held up, as are American contributions to global health and emergency food programs. A systems upgrade by the Internal Revenue Service to improve electronic data-keeping and speed tax refunds could be delayed for years — all because the federal government is operating on a temporary measure largely at last year’s levels. Congress on Tuesday approved yet another temporary spending bill, this one running through March 4, the fourth such stopgap measure since the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Bank of America, Deutsche Bank Assets Seized in Italian Derivatives Probe (Bloomberg)
Police said they took 15 million euros from Bank of America, and 1.7 million euros each from Deutsche Bank AG and UBS AG, according to an e-mailed statement. The remainder was seized from Natixis SA, Dexia Crediop SpA and Banca Monte Paschi di Siena SpA. The amount represents the alleged illicit profit the banks made from selling derivatives to the city of Florence, the region of Tuscany and three other municipalities in the region, the police said. The local governments have lost about 123 million euros on the swaps that adjusted payments on 1.4 billion euros of debt, the police said.

DeNiro, Hoffman Slum In ‘Ghastly’ Fockers (Bloomberg)
Predictably, “Little Fockers” has a lot of silly double entendres involving the family name. Byrnes asks Greg if he wants to take over as patriarch and become the “Godfocker.” When Greg’s outrageous mother (Barbra Streisand) gets hugged by her twin grandchildren, she calls it a “Focker sandwich.” If the Focker jokes have grown stale, so have the contrasts between Greg’s hyper Jewish parents (Dustin Hoffman plays his touchy-feely dad) and his wife’s button-down WASP family (Blythe Danner is her sweetly oblivious mom). It’s pathetic to see great actors like Hoffman and De Niro slumming in such schlock, though their own pain was undoubtedly soothed by substantial paychecks. Read more »