Archive for November 2013

Holiday Bell: 11.29.13

Citigroup Attempts to Sing Itself to Public Approval (WSJ)
The banking industry has spent countless hours and dollars trying to make up for the damage done by the financial crisis. Banks have run feel-good advertisements, waged aggressive lobbying campaigns, apologized to the public, tried to lend more, even sponsored public bike-rental programs in cities such as London and New York. Now Citigroup Inc. is trying to a new tactic: singing. On national TV. Citigroup’s London office recently opened up its Canary Wharf skyscraper to a BBC crew filming the popular TV series “The Choir.” The long-running British show—which is something of a cross between “Glee” and “The Office”—features teams of workers competing to be crowned workplace choir of the year. Bankers remain deeply reviled in the U.K., and Citigroup executives admit they are a bit nervous about whether they will be lampooned when their segment airs on BBC2 on Monday night. But they say it is a risk worth taking. “We ultimately won’t know how this will play out until it airs,” said James Bardrick, Citigroup’s co-head of European banking, who championed the project and is a tenor in the choir. “But if people get to see that we’re not a bunch of monsters hiding behind our screens and planning financial apocalypse, we’ll have done the industry a small service.”

UBS Revamps Forex Unit (WSJ)
s shaking up its investment bank, and has removed a top foreign-exchange executive, amid a burgeoning investigation into potential manipulation of currency markets. The bank is rolling its foreign-exchange and precious-metals business into another unit, according to an internal memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. As part of the changes, Chris Vogelgesang is stepping down as global co-head of foreign exchange and precious metals.

London leads 11 percent jump in bankers earning 1 million euros (Reuters)
More than 3,500 bankers in Europe earned 1 million euros ($1.4 million) or more last year after a big jump across the continent and in Britain, which had 12 times as many high earners as any other country. Figures from the bloc’s banking regulator on Friday showed that London-based bankers would have easily bust the European Union bonus cap rule coming into effect next year. Bonuses for the highest earners were almost four times fixed pay.

Wal-Mart Steps Up Security as Fights Break Out Over TVs (Bloomberg)
Malls are beefing up patrols with off-duty cops. Chains including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are using quota systems for popular doorbusters from iPads to jewelry. Yet all was not peaceful. In one incident, uploaded to YouTube, uniformed security officers handcuffed a female shopper at an unidentified Wal-Mart store after a tussle over a television. Bill Simon, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart’s U.S. division, was asked about the incident on a conference call today with reporters. “Any time you get more than 22 million people together you’re going to have some behavior you’re not proud of,” said Simon, who also said “the number of incidents” was down from last year and that it’s “hard to tell what happened in any individual incident.”

Violence flares as shoppers hunt Black Friday deals (CNBC)
After buying a big screen TV, a Las Vegas shopper was shot around 9:45 p.m. PST Thursday as he tried to take his purchase home, Lt. David Gordon of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told NBC News. “As the victim was walking through his complex he was approached by a suspect who fired warning shots which caused the victim to release the television,” he said. As the thief tried to load it into a vehicle the victim approached him to try to get it back, Gordon added. “The suspect fired two more shots and the victim was struck in the leg,” he said. “He was not seriously injured.”

SAC tech analyst testifies: Give stock tips or lose job (NYP)
Former SAC Capital Advisors tech analyst Jon Horvath testified he was afraid he would lose his job if he didn’t come up with illicit stock tips for his boss, Michael Steinberg. “I thought my job was in danger. I thought he would fire me,” Horvath, the government’s star witness in the insider-trading case against Steinberg, told a Manhattan federal jury. Horvath, testifying Wednesday on the fifth day of the trial, said he received an ultimatum from the top SAC money manager after Horvath’s tech recommendations for Steinberg lost money in 2007. “What I need you to do is to go out and get me edgy, proprietary information that we can use to make money in their stocks,” Horvath testified that Steinberg told him after a bad losing streak.

Netherlands Loses Triple-A Rating (WSJ)
The Netherlands became the latest country to be stripped of its coveted triple-A credit rating Friday, after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country to “AA+,” citing weakening growth prospects. S&P is the first rating firm to downgrade the Netherlands, saying the country’s growth prospects are “weaker than we had previously anticipated” and that the “real [gross domestic product] per capita trend growth rate is persistently lower than that of peers.”

Man fined for breaking bed, curtain rail and window sill having sex in his old flat (Mirror)
Adam Disney ‘got carried away’ during the impromptu bonk with his partner and trashed the home in the process. The bed collapsed as he had sex and the 28-year-old also damaged a window sill as he romped the night away. Puzzled neighbours heard noises coming from the flat in Wavertree, Liverpool, and wondered what was going on September 3. The home’s landlady spotted Disney, from Solihull, leaning out the window smoking a cigarette. Dan Lupton, defending at Liverpool Magistrates Court on Thursday said: “This is a curious case of the morning after the night before. “They had been drinking and the couple were passionate in their interest to have sexual relations. “On this occasion they were seeking to avail themselves rather quickly.” He added: “The closest place for them to seek refuge, in an effort to avoid offending public decency, was his former flat. “The window sill was loose and they hadn’t done a good job of securing the curtain rail. This was not a posh hotel room.” Once inside the flat Mr Lupton said the couple were “carried away with the intensity of physical relations” and in the course of events the bed collapsed and drapes were pulled down. He said the damage was not intentional but happened in the course of “sexual antics”. Disney was fined #100 after admitting criminal damage in the ‘shabby bedsit’ after a charge of burglary with intent to cause damage was downgraded. Read more »

Write-Offs: 11.27.13

$$$ Wall Street bigs poised for huge payday [NYP]

$$$ Fortress, Centerbridge Have Expressed Interest in LightSquared [WSJ]

$$$ Turkey Engineers Cook Up Patents [WSJ]

$$$ Bitcoin Tops $1,000 as Virtual Money Gains Popularity [Bloomberg]

$$$ Fed Reveals New Concerns About Long-Term U.S. Slowdown [Bloomberg]

$$$ Judge orders Sriracha hot sauce plant partly closed over odors [LA Times]

$$$ That’s it for us today– Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you all have a great holiday. There will be brief posting/moral support for those working on Friday, and we’ll see the rest of you back here on Monday! Read more »

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  • 27 Nov 2013 at 2:22 PM

Goldman Sachs: Mind The Loonie

Part three in a series of magnanimous gestures in which Goldman Sachs tries to teach you dullards how to trade like Goldman Sachs. Today’s installment: Canadian Thanksgiving was weeks ago, so fuck those guys. Read more »

Lawyers for Michael Steinberg pressed a former stock analyst turned government witness about his motivations for testifying against the veteran SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager, drawing a reluctant admission from the witness that he wanted to stay out of jail. Jesse Tortora, a former analyst at hedge fund Diamondback Capital LLC, told a jury in Manhattan federal court on Monday that he hoped to receive probation for cooperating with a wider government investigation into insider trading. That acknowledgment came after repeated, and sometimes contentious, questioning by Barry Berke, a lawyer for Mr. Steinberg. Mr. Tortora initially said that when agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed up to question him at his parents’ house in Florida in 2010, his “main motive was to tell the truth.” But under cross-examination from Mr. Berke, Mr. Tortora said he was also motivated by the prospect of a lighter punishment. [WSJ]

Dow 16,000. S&P 500 1,800. And, at long last, for the first time since the Clinton administration, Nasdaq 4,000. Read more »

Time was, all a bank employee wanting to manipulate forex rates had to do was sit down at his desk, send a message to a fellow bank employee possessing equally loose morals (and a taste for being called “big boy“) and before you could say “let’s pop this bottle of Bollinger,” the job was done. Which is why UBS has decided to cut its people off at the source. It hasn’t figured out a way to eradicate Libor and other types of rate manipulation entirely, but it has figured out a way to make it slightly more difficult for people who don’t know how to use a phone. As an added bonus, it’ll be giving managing directors the extra responsibility of acting as chat room hall monitors, muttering “this is why we can’t have nice things” while handing out passes, hitting AIM-style warn buttons, and occassionally peeking under men’s room stalls for rogue chatters while doing actual work. Read more »

For some reason, this is considered cause for celebration, rather than cause for concern. Read more »

  • 27 Nov 2013 at 12:50 PM

Bonus Watch 2015: The Netherlands

The Netherlands wants to introduce legislation that will cap bankers’ bonuses at 20% of their annual salary, a move that could lead to Dutch bankers facing one of the most stringent pay curbs in Europe amid public anger about compensation. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Tuesday that the bonus cap should help curtail excessive risk-taking and avoid future taxpayer bailouts. Banks will also be forced to limit severance pay and claw back bonuses when employees have violated professional standards or are responsible for hefty losses, he said in a letter sent to Dutch parliament. The proposal goes a step further than in many other European countries, where policy makers are scrambling to address ongoing public criticism over generous corporate pay packages, especially for bankers. Mr. Dijsselbloem said the EU rules “don’t go far enough” and that he wants to introduce legislation to establish the “strictest bonus policy in Europe.” The new rules are planned to come into effect Jan. 1 2015, and still require parliamentary approval. They will apply to all employees in the Dutch financial sector, including those working for foreign branches of Netherlands-based banks and insurers. [WSJ]