Popularized in films like Limitless, legal smart drugs called Nootropics are becoming more and more prevalent in board rooms and on Wall Street.Keep reading »
Barclays Seen Facing $2 Billion in Misconduct Costs (Bloomberg)
The U.K.’s second-largest lender may incur a 700 million-pound charge to settle a foreign-exchange probe with regulators and a further 200 million pounds relating to a U.S. investigation into its private-trading venue, Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Bernstein in London, said in a note today. The bank could reach settlements by the end of 2014, he said.
Banks Woo Treasury Sanctions Pros to Navigate Complex U.S. Rules (Bloomberg)
Companies including HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. are beefing up compliance expertise to ensure they or their clients don’t violate the set of programs the Treasury Department has more than doubled to 37 over the past decade. At least eight people of a staff of about 200 have left the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in the past year, including no fewer than six in 2014. As sanctions become the key weapon of economic pressure the U.S. is using to achieve its security and foreign policy goals, companies are rushing to hire employees versed in the intricacies of the Treasury’s rules. For banks, investment firms and the consulting companies helping them steer clear of violations, the stakes are higher because fines are getting bigger and the list of banned individuals and businesses has swelled to about 5,800.
Banks Retreat From Market That Keeps Cash Flowing (WSJ)
A critical part of the plumbing that keeps money flowing through the financial system is experiencing turmoil as new regulations prompt banks to step back from the multitrillion-dollar “repo” market. The large and opaque market for repurchase agreements helps keep finance and trading moving, allowing hedge funds, investment banks and other financial firms to borrow and lend short-term funds, often overnight. But there have been increasing signs of trouble. Big banks, which act as middlemen between borrowers and lenders, have been pulling back. In recent weeks, senior bankers have said they are reluctant to participate in the market because of regulatory requirements that make repo trading more expensive.
Using Software to Keep Pro Athletes and Startup Millionaires From Going Broke (BusinessWeek)
Wealthfront recently announced another publicity-friendly program, this time with a different group of millennials in mind: pro athletes. The company has an agreement with the San Francisco 49ers to offer investment advice to the organization’s employees and alumni, with the team covering fees on the first $100,000 each person invests. The idea is that rookie athletes aren’t so different from startup founders when it comes to their finances. Both might be about 23 years old, earn a salary of a few hundred thousand dollars, and wonder what to do with incentives that can reach into the millions—like a signing bonus or endorsement deal for the player, or equity for the coder. As part of the 49ers deal, Wealthfront will offer seminars on how to handle these windfalls. Professional athletes are notoriously bad at managing their finances. A 2009 Sports Illustrated investigation found that 78 percent (!) of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress within two years of retiring.
CrossFit Flirting: Talk Burpee to Me (NYT)
On a recent Saturday night at the Promenade Bar and Grill in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, the gym buddies Festa Radoni, 26, and Ellen Gerlach, 29, flexed their biceps, comparing muscles as a male friend snapped photos. “She’s much better at pull-ups,” Ms. Gerlach said, laughing as she elbowed Ms. Radoni. Over in the corner, Caley Crawford, 25, in five-inch green heels and polka-dot shorts, hung out in a squat position while sipping her drink and chatting. Nearby, two women in strappy dresses discussed how much weight they could snatch — move quickly from ground to overhead — with two men who, like everyone else at the evening’s event, do CrossFit, a popular high-intensity strength and conditioning program that involves lifting very heavy weights. “Her grip strength is unreal,” one of the men said later of one of the women. He sounded awed. It was a fairly tame evening out with Team Dangerous, a kind of interfraternity council for CrossFit gyms in the five boroughs, whose other events — among them a prom (dress code: “gym flair”) — have been known to devolve into tequila-fueled handstand push-ups in the street or a penalty of 10 burpees (an explosive squat-push-up-leap combination) for whoever stopped drinking beer. The two-year-old group’s stated mission is to combine fitness and social activities with charity, but it mostly functions to widen the dating pool for CrossFitters. “I don’t want to jinx myself, but that’s very true,” admitted a co-founder, Jason Lucking, 27, who is British, tall and flirtatious (he was, by several accounts, a credible copy of the Australian actor Chris Hemsworth at a CrossFit Halloween party).
Argentina slams U.S. debt case judge despite contempt threat (Reuters)
Argentina came out swinging on Wednesday against the U.S. judge overseeing its debt default case, in defiance of a threatened contempt order, and disappointed market hopes it might soon restart talks with the hedge funds suing the country. A group of holdout investors have sued the South American country for full repayment on bonds that went into default in 2002. The funds rejected debt restructurings in 2005 and 2010, holding out for better terms. U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa, overseeing Argentina’s long-running battle with the funds, said in New York on Friday that he would issue a contempt order unless the government stopped claiming it had met its obligations and was not in default. Far from backing off of those assertions, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said Griesa had been paralyzed by his own lack of understanding of the case and that no new talks had been scheduled with the hedge funds. “The proper conditions do not exist to negotiate,” Capitanich said.
Wall Street Faces Pushback on CMBS Deals as Supply Booms (Bloomberg)
Bond buyers are pushing back as banks aim to sell at least $6 billion of the debt in August in the busiest U.S. summer since before the financial crisis for securities backed by loans tied to properties such as strip malls or skyscrapers. After overlooking deteriorating underwriting standards for months, investors are becoming more selective as geopolitical turmoil sparks a flight from risky assets, according to Bank of America Corp. analysts.
Banking Lobby Backs Stricter Codes of Conduct for Currency Traders (WSJ)
A lobby group for the biggest banks in the foreign-exchange market is backing tougher codes of conduct for traders, while seeking a cautious approach to tweaking currency benchmarks that are at the center of a yearlong regulatory investigation. The Global Financial Markets Association, whose members represent 90% of the $5.3 trillion-a-day currencies market, laid out a series of proposals for changes in a nine-page paper posted on its website late Tuesday. The document comes as a response to a call for ideas by the Financial Stability Board, which coordinates global financial regulatory efforts. The FSB published its own set of proposals for tweaks to the market in July and gave an Aug. 12 deadline for participants to respond.
Japanese Company Fights ‘Moobs’ With Bra For Men (HP)
Kaku Nishioka, owner of a Tokyo clothing store, has just started selling a guys-only garment known in Japanese as the Kahei Oyasumi bra. It is designed to help perk up a man’s chest, called “moobs” by some, while he sleeps. “If a man has good pectoral muscles he is at just the same risk as a woman of having them gradually stretched and left out of shape,” he told the Mirror. “A man who wears this bra to bed at night will find everything is held firmly in place and looking good the next day.” The effects of gravity on a man’s pectoral muscles have been underreported according to Nishioka.