2012

  • Write-Offs

    Write-Offs: 04.13.12

    $$$ ECB Seen Favoring Bond Buying Over Bank Loans [Bloomberg]

    $$$ Swiss overhaul unsettles asset managers [FT]

    $$$ Homeowners give boost to US banks [FT]

    $$$ Treasury: Taxpayers Likely to Profit From Financial Rescue Programs [WSJ]

    $$$ Independent traders staged a walkout in one of CME Group Inc.’s CME busiest interest-rate futures pits, protesting a large, privately negotiated trade a day earlier that they claimed was unfair. The action by several dozen floor traders, which lasted about an hour, made prices harder to come by for some contracts used by banks and hedge funds to protect against shifts in some interest rates and threatened to deplete volumes in the market. … Thursday’s trade “was sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back” for the protesters, said David Stein, an independent trader who was standing outside the pit Friday and who helped organize the protest. Mr. Stein said allowing privately negotiated block trades was “anticompetitive” and “un-American.” [WSJ]

    $$$ A broker-dealer is looking for someone to trade equities in Dallas [DBCC]

    $$$ Obama likely paid higher tax rate than Romney in 2011 [Reuters]

    $$$ “The Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing a proposal to create the first diamond-backed exchange-traded fund.” [NYT]

    $$$ Facebook Acquires Mobile Marketer Tagtile [CNBC]

    $$$ Analysts Worry Gucci Will ‘Underperform’ Luxury Peers as PPR’s Stock Falls [Fashionista]

    $$$ Bloomberg unveils Muppets as NYC ambassadors [AP]

    $$$ “Hardcore Porn” Mistakenly Interrupts “Good Morning America” Broadcast In Two Towns [The JaneDough]

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 6:21 PM
  • News

    Bridgewater Likes To Hire People Who Have Something To Fall Back On When They’re Fired

    Interest in the subject matter is a minor consideration. Unlike a lot of firms, we […]

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 5:32 PM
  • News

    Dear Pershing Square Investors

    March performance.

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 4:58 PM
  • News

    Witnesses To Accused Groper’s Attacks Couldn’t Help But Marvel At The Pervert’s Impeccably Tailored Suit

    A staffer at an international financial firm was arrested Friday for allegedly groping women Downtown and […]

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 3:30 PM
  • News

    Bonus Watch ’12: Sixth Year Goldman Sachs CEOs

    Lloyd Blankfein’s compensation dropped 35 percent, while his in-a-mood president got a raise.

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 1:18 PM
  • News

    Bookie Confessional, Early Baseball Edition

    Mike is my best baseball client. He bets three or four grand a night, spread out over the whole card. He can’t possibly win over time. Sadly, such golden geese occasionally shit on the lawn. That’s what Mike did Friday, when he called and asked me to give him another bookie’s number.

    Nobody in particular—just anybody’s. He wanted a second place to bet. Basically he was sitting at his regular table and asking the Maitre d’ where ELSE he should go to dinner. I told him to call me back Saturday.

    Well, I fumed awhile, then it came to me. Mike had rarely talked to Faithful Assistant. I summoned Faithful Assistant and told him his dreams were about to come true: he was opening his own shop, with exactly one disposable cell phone, and exactly one very good customer.

    Turns out that wasn’t Faithful Assistant’s dream. His dream involves some newly single woman with expensive tastes: the weasel told me that if he was going to play this charade it was going to cost me a full 15% of Mike’s losses on both phone numbers. I was outraged and we started negotiating and by the time we were done 15% had become 20%.

    After making a mental note never to negotiate with Faithful Assistant again, I picked up the phone to hire the new book’s collection agent. Melody, a good customer’s wife, asked me for a job a couple months back. I offered and she accepted this part-time gig as an audition. Mike had his new place to play, Faithful Assistant was angling for a raise to 30%, and I set up a Monday meeting with Melody to tell her how all this would go down.

    Melody was a quick study. Faithful Assistant was her boss-and-contact and she was supposed to pass by Mike’s office every Tuesday afternoon to pay or collect. She wanted to know what to do if Mike didn’t have the money. She was disappointed to learn she should do nothing, just call us.

    I don’t think she wanted to break his legs, but I think she wanted to give him a serious telling off, preferably in front of people. Too bad—that’s not the way it works. It’s a non-issue anyway: Mike pays.

    Turns out the 20% I’m paying Faithful Assistant is money well spent: he quickly put together that Mike is betting the same teams with both our places. That might be the stupidest piece of betting I’ve ever laid my eyes on. He calls one number, bets the Yanks, then calls the second number and bets the Yanks again. His second price is almost always worse—how much worse, well, it depends on how greedy we feel.

    There is no logic to this—he ought to put his whole bet in at the first place he calls, or better yet call both joints for prices and put the bet in at the shop with the better price. (Faithful Assistant is routinely varying prices on the Mike Phone by a penny or two anyway.) The only way Mike’s current plan would make sense is if Mike was putting in maximum sized bets and needed to get down two max bets whatever the cost – but that’s not happening: Mike’s just putting down a few hundred at each place.

    Aspiring MBA-er Faithful Assistant says that Mike is trying to spread out his “credit risk,” so that if one shop goes bust owing him money, he still has the other. Our shenanigans aside, that helps Mike little: If you think your bookie can’t pay, don’t spread out your risk—just stop calling him and find someone else you’re actually comfortable with. It’s a bookie joint, not a bank.

    So we were a little surprised about this but the final shock was Melody’s. Melody showed up on Tuesday at Mike’s office to pick up $600. She won’t have to bother going downtown anymore: She knows “Mike” well: their kids are best friends since they’ve been neighbors for nine years.

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 1:06 PM
  • News

    Report: Lloyd Blankfein and Gary Cohn May Not Be Splitting A Milkshake With Two Straws Anytime Soon

    Matt and Ben. Penn and Teller. Bert and Ernie. Gary and Lloyd. As those who […]

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 12:45 PM
  • News

    JPMorgan Reports Voldemort’s Earnings, Some Other Stuff

    JPMorgan had a … quarter, whatever, go read about it. Top and bottom-line beats with […]

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM
  • News

    Opening Bell: 04.13.12

    JPMorgan Profit Slips (WSJ)
    J.P. Morgan reported a profit of $5.38 billion, down from $5.56 billion a year earlier. On a per-share basis, earnings were $1.31, up from $1.28 as the share count outstanding declined. The latest quarter included a net 8-cent per-share loss tied to litigation expenses and changes in the value of the bank’s debt. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a per-share profit of $1.18, excluding debt-related charges. Revenue rose 6.3% to $27.42 billion. Analysts were looking for $24.68 billion.

    Wells Fargo reports higher first-quarter profit (Reuters)
    Wells Fargo, the nation’s fourth-biggest U.S. bank, said net income was $4.25 billion, or 75 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $3.76 billion, or 67 cents, a share in the same period a year earlier. The average estimate from analysts was 73 cents per share.

    JPMorgan Said to Transform Treasury to Prop Trading (Bloomberg)
    Achilles Macris, hired in 2006 as the CIO’s top executive in London, led an expansion into corporate and mortgage-debt investments with a mandate to generate profits for the New York- based bank, three of the former employees said. Dimon, 56, closely supervised the shift from the CIO’s previous focus on protecting JPMorgan from risks inherent in its banking business, such as interest-rate and currency movements, they said. Some of Macris’s bets are now so large that JPMorgan probably can’t unwind them without losing money or roiling financial markets, the former executives said, based on knowledge gleaned from people inside the bank and dealers at other firms.

    Bank Bonus That Tops Salary May Be Banned by EU Lawmakers (Bloomberg)
    Governments and lawmakers in the 27-nation EU are considering rules for lenders that would go far beyond international agreements approved by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Denmark, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has proposed empowering nations to set surcharges of up to 3 percent across their banking systems. Karas yesterday suggested adding language to the legislation that would ban banker bonuses that exceed fixed pay, following calls from other lawmakers to rein in excessive compensation.

    IMF Lifts Growth Forecast, Cautiously (WSJ)
    Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said the world economy is marked by “a high degree of instability” even though prospects for global growth are better than they were a few months ago. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Lagarde said the IMF, which marked down its 2012 forecast for global growth in January to 3.3%, has now marked it up to reflect improving conditions in the world economy. But she said the new forecast, to be released next week, remains more pessimistic than the one it made last September, which predicted 4% growth. Europe remains the biggest single risk to the global economy, the former French finance minister said.

    Hedge Fund Driver Guns Down Armed Robber (NYP)
    A retired NYPD lieutenant blew away a drugstore bandit yesterday as the suspect tried to gun down three police officers during a foot pursuit, sources said. Thomas Barnes, Barnes — a driver for hedge fund manager Philippe Laffont, was filling his tank at the BP station on East 119th Street and First Avenue at around 11 a.m. when he saw gunman Rudolph Wyatt running from the store, and sprang into action. He crouched behind his hedge-fund boss’ Mercedes SUV and squeezed off three shots, killing Wyatt, 23. The trigger-happy thug — wanted on warrants for two other shootings — lay dead in a pool of blood on the sidewalk wearing a black stocking mask with a wad of stolen cash spilling out of his pocket, witnesses said. “Part of the back of his head was missing. He had a large head wound and there was tons of blood,” said witness John Brecevich, 59, owner of the Original Patsy’s restaurant nearby. “It was a scene straight out of NYPD Blue.”

    Trustees Aim For MF Execs (NYP)
    The trustee tasked with clawing back money for burned customers of MF Global is training his sights on the brokerage firm’s executives — a list that likely includes former CEO Jon Corzine. In a statement yesterday, trustee James Giddens said he is considering pursuing claims against “certain responsible individuals” who worked for MF at the time customers’ trading accounts were improperly tapped. Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for Giddens, declined to name names but said the trustee is considering civil suits against “officers, directors or other employees” of both the brokerage firm and the holding company.

    Fed Officials Differ on Need to Keep Rates Low to 2014 (Bloomberg)
    William C. Dudley, president of the New York Fed, and Vice Chairman Janet Yellen said the 2014 time-frame is needed to lower unemployment from 8.2 percent. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said rising inflation may prompt an interest-rate increase as early as this year, while Philadelphia’s Charles Plosser said policy should hinge on economic performance, not a calendar commitment.

    Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Race into home fire was a “come to Jesus moment” (CBS)
    Booker arrived home last night to discover his next-door neighbor’s house on fire, and rescued a young woman trapped upstairs by carrying here through the flames, suffering second-degree burns in the process. The mayor’s security team discovered the fire and pounded on the door to alert residents, when an elderly woman said that her daughter was trapped upstairs. At first, Newark Police Detective Alex Rodriguez would not let Booker into the burning house. “He basically told me, ‘This woman is going to die if we don’t help her,’ and what can I say to that?,” Rodriguez said. “I let him go and without thinking twice, he just ran into the flames and rescued this young lady.” Booker said that as he jumped through the kitchen on the second floor, “I actually wasn’t thinking. When I got there and couldn’t find her in all the smoke, looked behind me and saw the kitchen really erupting with flames all over the ceiling, that’s when I had very clear thoughts that I’m not going to get out of this place alive and got … very religious. He admitted he was “not gentle” with her – “I just sort of threw her over my shoulder and dragged her through the kitchen.”

    / Apr 13, 2012 at 9:30 AM
  • News, Write-Offs

    Write-Offs: 04.12.12

    $$$ Goldman settles over ‘huddles’ [FT] $$$ Keeping Busy, Mack Joins a New Board [DealBook] […]

    / Apr 12, 2012 at 7:17 PM
  • News

    Old Timey Internet Startup Founders Remind You That Facebook Didn’t Invent Ignoring Shareholders

    Dollar Shave Club is getting some press today; coincidentally I just used one of their […]

    / Apr 12, 2012 at 6:23 PM
  • News

    Try This For A Financial Sanction: Phil Falcone Isn’t Going Anywhere

    But Mr. Falcone and the SEC appear divided on two crucial questions, according to people […]

    / Apr 12, 2012 at 3:56 PM
  • News

    Who Didn’t Realize Sending Packages Containing Fake Grenades Was Something This Office Frowned Upon?

    As you may have heard, earlier today, people working in 2 World Financial Center were evacuated from the building after a suspicious package was flagged by security. Initial reports claimed it contained a grenade; obviously this was cause for alarm and would have continued to be had the NYPD determined it to be an actual grenade and not a “grenade-like novelty item,” mounted on a plaque with a sign that says “Complaint Dept. Pull Pin.” Now that it’s clear everyone is safe (and at least mildly buzzed), a few questions need answering.

    1. Who sent this thing? Was it:
    a) A person whose sense of humor involves putting something like the above (or a sign that reads “I can only please one person per day. Today isn’t your day…and tomorrow don’t look good either”) on her desk.
    b) An idiot friend of someone who works in the building.
    c) An rival bank trying to disrupt Nomura trading
    d) other

    2. Assuming the item was purchased by someone working in the building, when do you think it dawned on him or her that they were responsible for having the building evacuated?

    3. What will the consequences for the sender be, legal and professional? Senior Jailhouse Correspondent Matt puts the probability of prison time at 1.37 percent.

    / Apr 12, 2012 at 2:26 PM
  • News

    Dealbreaker Career Center

    Want to change things up? A top commodities trading house is looking for a team […]

    / Apr 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM
  • News

    BlackRock Is Getting Into The Bond-Trading And Adverse Selection Businesses

    What are you planning to buy from BlackRock? They have bonds for you: BlackRock Inc. […]

    / Apr 12, 2012 at 1:02 PM
  • News

    2 World Financial Center Evacuated, “Suspicious Package” Being Investigated [Update: Break’s Over]

    Building 2 is home to Nomura Securities, among others. According to the Daily News reports the package is thought to contain a grenade.

    Update: Though initially worried about what was going on, Nomura employees are apparently “pretty calm right now” and “gathered at a local bar waiting to see what’s next.”

    Nomura NY Offices Evacuated Due To Suspicious Package, Traders Say [MarketBeat]
    NYPD Investigating Suspicious Package at World Financial Center [Bloomberg]
    World Financial Center evacuated after suspicious package found [NYDN]

    / Apr 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM
  • Opening Bell

    Opening Bell: 04.12.12

    Buffett Feasts On Goldman Scraps (WSJ)
    Details of one trade in particular have recently caused a stir in the market. In November, Goldman sold about $85 million of loans in troubled newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises Goldman sold the debt at about 65 cents on the dollar, having bought it months before at around 80 cents, resulting in a loss of at least $13 million. The buyer: a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., according to several people familiar with the matter. Mr. Buffett has since made a tidy paper profit on the loans, which are now worth about 82 cents on the dollar, the people said.

    Jim Chanos: Chinese Banks ‘Great Shorts,’ Won’t Be Broken Up (CNBC)
    Chanos, the head of Kynikos Associates, has been betting against China — despite its role as a global economic leader — primarily because he believes the country is overbuilt and does not have the internal demand to support its ambitious growth plans. Nowhere has that trend been more apparent than in the banking system. “If you looked at the performance of the banks over the last two years…they have been great shorts,” Chanos said. “They have been going down — they’re down 30 percent over the last two years.”

    George Soros: Exceptional Measures Needed to Save EU (FT)
    “Other countries have gone through similar experiences. Latin American countries suffered a lost decade after 1982, and Japan has been stagnating for a quarter of a century; both have survived. But the European Union is not a country and it is unlikely to survive. The deflationary debt trap threatens to destroy a still-incomplete political union,” he wrote.

    Blackstone President To Raise For Obama (Morning Money)
    “Tony James, the president of Blackstone Group LP, has agreed to hold a fundraiser for… Obama’s re-election campaign, according to two people familiar…By agreeing to raise money for Obama, James has diversified Blackstone’s political bets for the November election. Blackstone Chairman Stephen Schwarzman has been raising money for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee.”

    SEC, Goldman to Settle Research Case (Reuters)
    U.S. securities regulators are preparing to announce that Goldman Sachs will pay $22 million to settle allegations the bank did not have adequate policies to prevent research from being passed inappropriately to preferred clients, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

    BlackRock’s Street Shortcut (WSJ)
    BlackRock is planning to launch a trading platform this year that would let the world’s largest money manager and its peers bypass Wall Street and trade bonds directly with one another. The electronic trading hub has the potential to reduce a lucrative revenue stream for investment banks at a time when their businesses are being squeezed by lackluster markets and new regulations put in place to curb risk in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The trading platform would be run by the New York-based company’s BlackRock Solutions arm and offer 46 clients—including sovereign-wealth funds, insurance companies and other money managers—the ability to trade in corporate bonds, mortgage securities and other assets, company executives say. Under the plan, the platform would seek to match buyers and sellers of the same securities, in a process known as “crossing trades.” BlackRock Solutions would charge a small fee for the service that would be much lower than Wall Street’s trading commissions.

    New Yorker breaks up subway scuffle, snacks in hand (NYDN)
    Sonder, 24, played the role of hungry hero “two or three Thursdays ago” after hopping on an uptown 6 train at Spring St. The calm inside the subway car was shattered a minute later when a tussle broke out between a man and a woman. “I turned around and I saw these two kicking each other pretty viciously,” said the sturdy Sonder, who stands six-feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. “I stepped over and tried to see if I could help.” Mid Pringle, Sonder thrust himself between the pugilists. More chips were eaten, but no other punches or kicks were thrown. “I just got caught up in the moment,” said Sonder, who was also holding a bag of gummy bears during the incident.

    Dimon Vows Fight Moynihan Lost Over Claims From Mortgages (Bloomberg)
    “We are going to fight repurchase claims that pretend the steep decline in home prices and unprecedented market conditions had no impact on loan performance,” Dimon, chief executive officer of the New York-based lender, wrote in the April 4 letter. He’ll also oppose “securities claims brought by sophisticated investors who understood and accepted the risks.”

    Jobless Claims Post Jump; PPI Up, Trade Deficit Down (Reuters)
    Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 380,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised up to 367,000 from the previously reported 357,000.

    Fur Flies in High-Stakes Airlifts of Animals by Lufthansa (Bloomberg)
    An African white rhinoceros peers through the bars of its Frankfurt compound, while across the floor a Madagascan chameleon inches around its vivarium and an Andean alpaca plucks hay from a bale. It’s not a scene from the city’s zoo but from Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Animal Lounge, a state-of-the-art complex that’s at the center of the German carrier’s plans to dominate the most specialized part of the $66 billion air-cargo industry. Lufthansa, Air France-KLM Group and Dubai-based Emirates, which transports thoroughbreds for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, horseracing’s leading owner, are competing in a high- stakes market. Premium profit margins come with the risk of an in-flight death involving a beloved family pet, top-ranked stallion or priceless panda. “It’s not like pharmaceuticals, where your main concern is the temperature,” said Animal Lounge Director Axel Heitmann. “If a bag of fish leaks it needs replacing with the right kind of water and the right oxygen. And if something goes wrong you can’t just hand a customer $1,000 and tell him to buy another pet. He wants the dog or cat he’s had for 10 years.”

    KKR Invests in China Cord Blood (WSJ)
    Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. will invest $65 million into China Cord Blood Corp., the country’s largest operator of services for umbilical cord blood that is rich in stem cells, to capitalize on China’s fast growing healthcare services industry.

    Police: Dealer tied 89 bags to penis, peed at the station (Philly)
    Police Corporal Christopher Eiserman said another officer was on routine patrol Friday when he pulled Ray Woods over for a broken rear light and found marijuana in his car. When the officer searched Woods before placing him in the police cruiser, he discovered “a large bulge” in the front of his pants, Eiserman said. Police say Woods actually had the balls to deny that there was any contraband down there. “He stopped him for the traffic violation and one thing led to another,” Eiserman said. Back at the station, Eiserman said, police discovered that Woods had tied a large plastic bag around his penis that contained a whopping 89 small bags of suspected heroin and cocaine. Then things got messy. “I tried to remove it. Unfortunately, and I don’t know if it was nervousness or not, but he started urinating all over,” Eiserman said. While it wasn’t exactly what Eiserman had in mind when he started his shift Friday, he couldn’t help but chuckle at the ingenuity, or lack thereof, of street-level drug dealers. “In 14 years, I’ve seen it down their pants, in their a–, but I’ve never seen it tied to their penis,” he said.

    / Apr 12, 2012 at 8:48 AM
  • News

    Sergey Aleynikov Came Thisclose To Spending The Next Eight Years In Jail

    One of my favorite recent acts of journalism is the Journal’s amazing series about how everything you could possibly do is a federal crime, which is both a true fact with serious policy implications and also an important thing for you to remember if you want to stay out of federal prison, which I do; you may disagree but you are wrong. Here’s a pro tip though that you will not (yet) find in the Journal series: there is a decent chance that reading Dealbreaker is a federal crime where you are. The reason for that is that there is a federal statute that says that if (1) there is a computer and (2) someone tells you not to do a thing on it and (3) you do that thing on that computer, then (4) PRISON! And if you work in finance then (1) yes, (2) maybe?,* (3) yes, and (4) no but it could happen.

    An important qualifier to that is: as of yesterday, if you’re in California, feel free to read Dealbreaker from your work computer. Hell, go nuts, check Facebook. That’s what a Federal appellate court ruled yesterday, finding against the government, who were prosecuting a guy named David Nosal for violating his employer’s computer use policy. Here’s how the court characterized what the government wanted:

    / Apr 11, 2012 at 7:19 PM
  • News

    Area Hedge Fund Manager Takes President’s Breath Away

    From the front lines:

    From: Whitney Tilson
    Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:20 AM
    Subject: My column: “A millionaire for higher taxes”

    In DC, just chatted with Obama and stood behind him at his press conference re the Buffett rule. Just published the column below on the Washington Post web site.

    As I shook his hand beforehand, I said, “Hi Mr. President, I’m Whitney Tilson of Democrats for Education Reform. We were early supporters of yours and I just wanted to thank you and Arne Duncan for the incredible work you’re doing.”

    His eyes lit up and he said, “I remember your early support. We’re making progress but we still have a lot of work to do.”

    I said, “We’ll keep fighting for you” as he was hustled out of the room to start the press conference.

    / Apr 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM
  • Banks, News

    Who Wouldn’t Want To Sue Bank of America?

    August was kind of rough for Bank of America on the legal front, to the point that we once said in Write-Offs “Everybody who hadn’t yet sued BofA did today, or will soon.” But that turned out to be wrong! Or at least, it underestimated the continuing appeal of suing Bank of America, because now not only is everyone who is not Bank of America suing Bank of America, but so is Bank of America:

    [I]n Florida’s Palm Beach County alone, Bank of America has sued itself for foreclosure 11 times since late March, according to foreclosure fraud activist Lynn Szymoniak, who forwarded one such foreclosure filing, dated March 29, 2012, to The Huffington Post. … In the March 29 filing, Bank of America is seeking to foreclose on a condominium and names the condo owner and Bank of America as defendants in the suit. The company is literally seeking damages from itself in order to foreclose on the condo owner.

    Ha ha ha but why is Bank of America a delinquent condo owner? Because of course it’s not; it’s the second lien holder:

    / Apr 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM
  • News

    Fox Business Senior Email Correspondent: Thousands Of Goldman Employees Saw Muppet Movie, Wanted To Talk About It The Next Day

    Late last week, investigative reporter Charlie Gasparino came out with a bombshell story: after reading former employee Greg Smith’s allegation that he’d seen and heard colleagues refer to clients as “muppets,” the British term for stupid people, the firm launched an investigation into the claim (e.g. searched emails for said word). On Friday, Gasparino breathlessly reported that while  Goldman did find some muppet mentions, they referred to the Jason Segal film and were not malicious in their intent (quoth CG: “GS found no evidence of malicious muppet talk in emails).  While a lesser journalist would have been content to take the source at his or her word, Charles Gasparino is no such journalist. He get kept digging on this one and now, amazingly, has more to add:

    “People close to Goldman tell FOX Business 98% of the email muppet use referred to the movie. Sources at Goldman also say the malicious muppet use in emails involves name calling among colleagues; apparently at Goldman they call each other muppet. Sources say the firm find no evidence so far to substantiate Smith’s claims that people were talking about clients.”

    Gasparino on Muppet Movie Referrals in Goldman Emails [FBN]

    / Apr 11, 2012 at 2:55 PM
  • News

    Jon Corzine’s Got Money To Burn

    A bankruptcy judge said MF Global can use existing insurance policies to pay potential “wrongful […]

    / Apr 11, 2012 at 1:35 PM
  • News

    Layoffs Watch ’12: Barclays Capital

    Cuts are said to have begun today across the pond.

    FYI: ‘Consultation process’ (job cuts) at BarCap London start this week. No indication of scale. Same day as [UK governance watchdogs] PIRC and ABI put firm on Amber Top alert due to exec compensation… troops not happy.

    / Apr 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM
  • Opening Bell

    Opening Bell: 04.11.12

    Profit Drop at U.S. Banks Imperils Rally (Bloomberg)
    The six largest U.S. lenders, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, may post an 11 percent drop in first-quarter profit, threatening a rally that has pushed bank stocks 19 percent higher this year. The banks will post $15.3 billion in net income when adjusted for one-time items, down from $17.3 billion in last year’s first quarter, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Trading revenue at the biggest lenders is projected to fall 23 percent to $18.3 billion, according to Morgan Stanley analysts, who didn’t include their firm or Wells Fargo.

    Making Waves Against ‘Whale’ (WSJ)
    Dozens of hedge funds are believed to have placed bets in the derivatives markets that pit them against positions taken by Bruno Iksil, the French-born trader who works for the bank’s Chief Investment Office in London, according to people familiar with the matter. Funds that traded against Mr. Iksil earlier this year recorded big paper losses as his trades helped push down one credit index. The losses made Mr. Iksil a target for some hedge funds, who felt they could capitalize on his outsize position, these people say. The funds’ wagers against Mr. Iksil’s positions have become increasingly profitable in recent weeks as prices in the credit-derivatives index that was at the center of one of Mr. Iksil’s trades rose after his trades ceased. “I view the entire market as a chess match playing against this guy,” said a person who is familiar with Mr. Iksil’s positions and is trading against him.

    Carlyle nears road show for $8B IPO (NYP)
    A road show will start as early as next week for the initial public offering (IPO) of Carlyle Group that will value the private-equity firm at between $7.5 billion and $8 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. Carlyle filed documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month to sell a 10 percent stake. The offering is likely to generate as much as $800 million in proceeds, according to the person familiar with the matter.

    Germany Pays Record Low Yield (WSJ)
    “The modest demand is due to the historical low yields, where investors are very reluctant to buy long-dated German bonds at these low levels despite the fiscal slippage we see in Spain and the ongoing crisis in the periphery,” said Jens Peter Sorensen, chief analyst at Danske Markets. But RBS analysts said poor bund auctions at these yield levels have never been a good predictor for future demand, and thus it recommended not to “overly” focus on the sale to gauge demand for bunds.

    Weighing SEC’s Crackdown on Fraud (WSJ)
    SEC enforcement chief Robert Khuzami said the current total of 101 cases shows the agency is “highly effective in tackling financial-crisis wrongdoing.” Of the 74 cases filed against individuals so far, the SEC went after 55 chief executives, finance chiefs or other top officers. In an interview, Mr. Khuzami said the number is “significant” and “sends a strong deterrent message.”

    Meredith Whitney Muni Call Was 100% Wrong: Bond Pro (CNBC)
    High-grade municipal bonds remain a solid investment despite their sometimes-battered public image, according to fixed income expert Alexandra Lebenthal. “I have come up with a new measure of risk, which is knowledge risk,” said the president and CEO of Lebenthal and Co. “Is the person who is talking about municipal bonds, corporate bonds, equities, what have you, knowledgeable and should people be listening to them?” “Yes, I have an axe to grind,” continued Lebenthal, whose father, James, is one of the more prominent names in the bond business. “I am in the municipal bond business, I’m also in the wealth management business and trying to do the best for clients. But I do know what I’m talking about because I have spent over 20 years in this business and another 20 growing up listening to it.”

    Facebook deal ‘surprised’ bankers (NYP)
    “People are wondering if [Facebook] couldn’t have waited until after the IPO [to purchase Instagram],” said one source, who declined to be identified. Although Facebook is still awaiting IPO clearance from regulators, underwriters led by Morgan Stanley are hoping to launch the company’s share sale next month, possibly the week of May 14. Bankers plan to start the investor marketing campaign, known as a “road show,” about two weeks prior its launch. Zuckerberg held discrete talks with Instagram’s founders and managed to keep underwriters in the dark about the sale until late in the process, sources said. Critics of the controversial deal say Facebook’s timing for the acquisition is questionable, while supporters argue that the Instagram purchase enhances Facebook’s platform and stymies rivals.

    Investors run scared of Spain’s battered banks (Reuters)
    “Most are currently on liquidity life support from the ECB but asset quality continues to deteriorate as house prices keep falling and unemployment is still rising,” said Georg Grodzki, head of credit research at Legal & General Investment Management. “Their funding remains constrained and competition for deposits intense,” he told Reuters. Economy Minister Luis De Guindos told Reuters last week that all Spanish banks had met capital requirements set by the European Banking Authority under a 115-billion-euro recapitalization plan decided by European Union leaders in December. But fund managers remain skeptical due to the slow-burning property crash. They include Mark Glazener, head of global equities at Dutch asset manager Robeco, who sold off his exposure to Spain at the end of last year. “Given the scale of over-building over all these years, the present provisioning that the banks have made does not appear to be enough,” he said.

    Zuckerberg Threatened to Disable Ceglia Site Amid Dispute (Bloomberg)
    Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg threatened in 2004 to disable part of the website he was working on for Paul Ceglia, the New York man now suing him for part-ownership of the multibillion-dollar company, according to copies of e-mails filed by Facebook in federal court…“I must receive $5,000 by next Saturday at midnight, or the scroll search functionality will be removed from the site,” Zuckerberg wrote in a message to Ceglia on Feb. 21, 2004, about two weeks after he put “Thefacebook.com” online. Zuckerberg told Ceglia he owed him $10,500 of the $19,500 he’d been promised, according to the e-mails, filed by Facebook as part of the lawsuit in Buffalo, New York. Facebook last month asked the judge to throw out the lawsuit.

    / Apr 11, 2012 at 9:30 AM
  • Write-Offs

    Write-Offs: 04.10.12

    $$$ Rick Santorum drops out of the presidential race [WaPo]

    $$$ Alcoa Posts Surprise Profit After Aluminum Orders Climb [Bloomberg]

    $$$ Hedge funds lag the market, again [Fortune]

    $$$ Dan Loeb has convinced Yahoo that it’s time to move forward with some buzzwords [AllThingsD]

    $$$ “The conventional wisdom that Facebook sees Instagram as competition is not the whole story. It may also see Instagram as particularly advertiser-friendly content that its users currently have trouble producing. Think of it as a $1 billion way to make your parents’ status updates more interesting.” [Reuters / Ryan McCarthy]

    $$$ Interested in behavioral economics? Then don’t buy Karl Daniels’s Fast and Slow Thinking. [Language Log]

    $$$ Mitt Romney Is Doing ‘Gay Voice’ in This Video, Says Professional Gay Voice Expert Bob Corff [Gawker]

    $$$ How would you like to be a portfolio management associate at Starwood Capital in Greenwich? [DBCC]

    $$$ NY pushes objection to BofA $8.5 billion mortgage pact [Reuters]

    $$$ “Court: Checking Facebook on Your Work Computer Isn’t a Crime.” Other courts disagree. [WSJ Law Blog]

    $$$ “For the first time in its 4 1/2 year life, a program on the Fox Business Network has topped a show on CNBC for an entire week in both Total Viewers and younger viewers.” [TVNewser via Talking Biz News]

    $$$ What Do Europe’s Pirate Parties Stand for? [Bloomberg]

    $$$ This happened [BI]

    $$$ Mayonnaise Store Now Open in Prospect Heights [Brownstoner]

    $$$ 5-year-old brings heroin for ‘show and tell’ [Stamford Advocate]

    / Apr 10, 2012 at 8:09 PM
  • M&A, News

    Avon’s New CEO Seems To Actually Want To Work For Her Paycheck

    This thing about new Avon CEO Sheri McCoy is sort of a good corporate-governance-exam question. […]

    / Apr 10, 2012 at 7:42 PM
  • News

    American Apparel CEO: Numerous Lawsuits Against Me Are A Testament To My Awesomeness

    Has the profitability of your company come into question of late? Have you been sued many, many times, typically for sexual harassment? Want to set the record straight but are unsure of what to say? Perhaps Dov Charney can help. In an interview with CNBC today, Charney told Jane Wells that any suggestion that American Apparel can’t turn a profit on its mesh unitards, gold lamé leggings, and fishnet bodysuits is totally off based. “I think you’re casting [the business] in the wrong light to say it’s unprofitable,” Charney said. “From accounting perspective, from 20 feet up, yeah, it’s unprofitable. But if you get down to the numbers…we’re getting our groove back.” There was also this exchange.

    Wells: I’ve counted, what is it, nine lawsuits against you? That’s  a lot.

    Charney: Yeah. It’s also a testimony to my success.

    Wells: Do you think you’re inappropriate at all?

    Charney: No.

    Wells: The range of criticism is everything from sexual predator to just…weird.

    Charney: Well, you know, I mean, weird? I like weird…Many of the great entrepreneurs of the last century have been criticized for being somewhat different.

    Wells: Do you see yourself as a Steve Jobs meets Hugh Hefner type?

    Charney: That wouldn’t be for me to say.

    American Apparel CEO: Tattered But Not Torn [CNBC]

    / Apr 10, 2012 at 6:38 PM