Bess Levin

Posts by Bess Levin

  • 26 Jan 2015 at 4:35 PM

Great News: Technology Has Advanced Since 1996

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 4.34.41 PMBack when the business of buying and selling stocks depended on human traders gathering in the same physical location — the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan, for instance — a major snow storm could snarl commutes so badly that exchanges had to shut. That’s what happened during the blizzard of January 1996, which took place before computers dominated. Although pilloried by critics for making markets more difficult for humans, the technological revolution — which shifted most trading to computers housed in data centers in New Jersey and elsewhere — may have made markets more resilient to the weather. “We’re in Chatham, New Jersey, and we can trade tomorrow,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading LLC. “If they’re open, we’re ready to go. Everybody has backup systems and after things like Hurricane Sandy and some storms of the past couple years, people have really locked down their backup systems and are ready to go.” [Bloomberg]

steve cohenAt some point last year, after he had settled insider trading charges against his firm, the hedge fund formerly known as SAC Capital, Steve Cohen began exhibiting signs of man who felt, if not contrite, than contrite-lite. He agreed to rename his company, stripping his initials from all letterhead, fleece, and signage. He started paying employees to not commit securities fraud. And, most significantly, he agreed to only manage the money of people related to him by blood or marriage, returning billions of dollars to investors, and kissing a whole lot of would-be fees good-bye.

But now? Possibly/probably emboldened by the December appeals court ruling that knocked his No. 2 nemesis, Preet Baharara, down several pegs and officially made it harder for prosecutors to convict people of insider trading? He’s all but finished playing the part of a guy who feels bad about running a firm described as a “veritable magnet for market cheaters.” Not only is he no longer taking orders from Preet, the Feds, of the SEC, but he’s thinking maybe it’s about time he started giving them out. Read more »

john-pierpont-morganEd. note: This is a weekly column by Elie Mystal, Managing Editor of Above the Law Redline, wrapping up the week that was in law and finance. Elie is not a practicing attorney, and anything he says that you listen to can and will be used against you.

So we’re all having fun today with J.P. Morgan, lawyers at Mayer Brown and Simpson Thacher, and their collective $1.5 billion error. The Second Circuit ruled that creditors to the old General Motors may be entitled to $1.5 billion based on a legal mistake in old JPM loan documents.

It might seem weird to use this story as an example in favor of gigantic legal fees, but as you look at how this error happened, you’ll see my point.

JPM loaned GM money as part of a $300 million synthetic loan. Unrelated to that, JPM also financed part of $1.5 billion loan to GM. When GM paid off the first loan, it needed to release JPM’s interest in GM property used to secure the $300 million.

I’m bored already. Evidently, so were lawyers at Mayer Brown. A senior partner delegated part of the task to an associate, who delegated some of the research to a paralegal. The paralegal was unfamiliar with the transaction, probably because he was a paralegal and people spend more time housebreaking their dogs than they spend explaining to a paralegal why they are being asked to do any particular task. The paralegal put in the wrong term because, whatever, he made a mistake researching something no lawyer knows off the top of his head.

From there, the associate copied the mistake into the documents sent to the senior partner without checking the paralegal’s research. The partner send the docs to JPM’s outside counsel without checking the associate’s research. Outside counsel Simpston Thacher didn’t double check or catch the error. Nobody at Mayer Brown, Simpson Thacher, or in-house at GM or JPM caught the mistake. Richard Gere shoved a gerbil up his ass. I know because I read it somewhere. Read more »

lucarelliThe 52-year-old said his inside trading was fueled by drugs and resentment of the Midtown firm, which he said owed him money on commissions. “I didn’t take the drugs to get high, I did it because I can’t drink coffee — that’s a painful trip to the bathroom,” Lucarelli said…Lucarelli, occasionally tearing up, now lives in North Dakota with his brother and says he hopes to become a truck driver. “The one thing about trucking, you’re urine tested all the time,” he said during a 20-minute statement. “If you’re a good driver, which I am, they don’t care about insider trading.” [NYDN, earlier]

dimon_blankfeinTheir performance reviews must have gone really well. Read more »

the league 2“We want people to think of The League as a little more grown up and tasteful, for young professionals who want to go out for a coffee or a drink and aren’t just about hooking up,” Bradford says. To get only the most serious singles, Bradford feels it’s important to be highly selective rather than target hard-partying college students…Unlike Hinge and Tinder, The League relies more on LinkedIn than Facebook to determine who is up to snuff. Bradford says she and her friends frequently LinkedIn-stalk dates before meeting them for coffee to make sure they aren’t scary and that their goals align. [BI]

lucarelliEarlier today, a man was given a platform to make some brief remarks and ended up telling a rambling story that surprised onlookers with its non-sequiturs, bizarre details, and, at times, volume. Was he doing so during a hearing in federal court or at a bar in downtown Manhattan (let’s just call it The Patriot)? Based on the following clues, you tell us:

  • The man name dropped many a super model he claimed to have worked with
  • He bitched about his boss
  • He worked in a story about getting into– and winning– a fistfight with his father when he was 16
  • Not on this occasion but one past ones, he’s been known to pair flip-flops with sweatpants
  • He spoke of the marriage troubles/bedroom problems associated with having a wife 20 years one’s junior
  • There was a brief aside about coke
  • He was told at least twice to keep it down, because he was yelling

Read more »