Matt Levine

  • News

    Housekeeping: So Long To Matt

    Today is my last day at Dealbreaker. All the obvious things are true: this is the best job I’ve ever had, it’s been an incredibly fun two years, and I will always be grateful to Bess and Breaking Media for giving me this opportunity. Also to all of you: thanks for reading, for commenting, for […]

    / Aug 23, 2013 at 4:30 PM
  • This cow seems cool.


    Too Big To Fail Is Pretty Much Over, Says Moody’s

    Yesterday Moody’s put the debt of four of the six big U.S. banks – GS, JPM, MS, and WFC – on review for downgrade, and the other two – C and BAC – on the amusing “review direction uncertain,”1 because Moody’s is becoming increasingly convinced that, if those banks blew up, the government would not […]

    / Aug 23, 2013 at 4:04 PM
  • Munger in context


    The SEC Thought Charlie Munger Was Hiding A Hedge Fund In Some Newspapers

    Here’s a neat little story from Bloomberg: Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s long-time right-hand man at Berkshire Hathaway, moonlights as the chairman of the board of a wee newspaper company called Daily Journal. Daily Journal owns a collection of newspapers so dull that they “specializ[e] in public notice advertising,” particularly notices of foreclosure sales. It also […]

    / Aug 23, 2013 at 12:32 PM
  • Boring conversation anyway


    Nasdaq’s Computers Didn’t Feel Like Trading Any Stocks This Afternoon

    Is there like a five-minute rule for equity traders and Nasdaq shutdowns? I suppose if you are at a bar now and not reading this because you took off after the first hour of Nasdaq down time, the joke is on you because it got better and all your more diligent competitors are making money […]

    / Aug 22, 2013 at 4:38 PM
  • Don't you wish there were more like haggard unshaven pictures of him?


    Banks In Trouble For Losing Money And Getting In Trouble

    Half of today’s financial news stories are about how some government enforcement agency is looking into something you already knew about. This is very boring for me! Remember when Goldman lost a bunch of money by fat-fingering some options trades?1 That still happened. Remember how JPMorgan did some naughty things with California electricity markets? Those […]

    / Aug 22, 2013 at 10:53 AM
  • Computer, how could you! I am very disappointed in you. Bad computer.


    Goldman’s H-Through-L Option Trading Computer Had A Rough Day Yesterday

    Yesterday the computer at Goldman Sachs responsible for trading options whose symbols start with the letters H through L traded a bunch of options at the wrong prices and put Goldman out by a hundred million dollars or so. Today various exchanges are sitting down and pondering whether to give Goldman that money back. This […]

    / Aug 21, 2013 at 10:09 AM
  • Among the things the internet is good at is finding pictures relevant to the term "happy meal." Obviously pictures relevant to the term "convertible bond with registered stock borrow facility" are harder to come by.


    Happy Meal Convertible Offerings Make People Angry

    It is not every day that the Wall Street Journal has a front-page article about “happy meal” convertible offerings with registered stock borrow facilities so I’m going to tell you about them. Here is what they are:1 A company sells a convertible bond to convertible arbitrageurs. At the same time, it lends shares of its […]

    / Aug 20, 2013 at 11:40 AM
  • Or whoever. Disasters, etc., is the point.


    Federal Reserve Hints That Maybe Banks Should Hire Jerry Bruckheimer To Help Write Their Stress Test Scenarios

    Today the Fed released a paper making fun of banks for their lame responses to the Fed’s stress tests, both on prudential-regulatory and on literary grounds. For instance, the banks were supposed to come up with their own stress scenario and see how they’d do in that scenario, and a lot of banks apparently phoned […]

    / Aug 19, 2013 at 4:21 PM
  • I feel like now would be a good time to come to Jamie Dimon to tell him that your business is being investigated for something like this. Like, really, this is pretty small potatoes versus the stupid Whale or whatever. "Happens to everyone!," he'd probably say, because it's true, at JPMorgan, these days.


    Sometimes JPMorgan Hired The Children Of Its Clients

    The Times reported this weekend that JPMorgan is being investigated for hiring the children of influential Chinese officials in order to win investment banking business, which apparently the SEC’s antibribery unit thinks might be bribery and thus a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.1 People are sort of falling over themselves to be unscandalized […]

    / Aug 19, 2013 at 11:05 AM
  • He's doing exceptional photographic work recently.


    Carl Icahn Will Have To Wait Until October/Never For His Dell Proxy Fight

    It’s useful to be reminded every now and then that shareholders don’t really “own” corporations and they certainly don’t run them. Whatever you think of Carl Icahn’s self-funded, mildly loony plan to do a leveraged-recap-via-tender-offer of Dell, his basic argument, that Dell shareholders should be able to vote to (1) do that, (2) sell the […]

    / Aug 16, 2013 at 5:29 PM
  • Charles E. Merrill. Oh what you thought it was founded by a bull?


    So Long, Merrill Lynch!

    There are a lot of things in the financial industry that you could legitimately get upset about and so it seems sort of wasteful when people go around getting upset about the other things.1 Like: the too-big-to-fail banks have a lot of subsidiaries, which is bad for some reason. Complexity! Opacity! Subsidiaries. I dunno.2 Anyway […]

    / Aug 16, 2013 at 3:00 PM
  • Google "Florida man" sometime; it's all mug shots.


    The FBI Manipulated Some Penny Stocks

    The SEC announced securities fraud charges against a fairly random assortment of South Florida crooks today and the message I took away from the assorted complaints is that it’d be a lot of fun to work in the South Florida office of the FBI. Basically the job seems to consist of setting up fake hedge […]

    / Aug 15, 2013 at 5:31 PM
  • I don't know, man. I don't know.


    Really The London Whale’s Books Weren’t That Cooked

    There are various strange reactions1 to this morning’s Whale-related charges and here is one from Peter Eavis: Their trading didn’t take place in a market where very large numbers of transactions produced transparent and public prices through the day, like the stock market. Instead, the traders made bets with derivatives, financial contracts that often trade […]

    / Aug 14, 2013 at 6:32 PM
  • I mean really the whale is fine.


    The London Whale Hated All The Lying About How Much Money He Was Losing

    Today U.S. prosecutors charged former JPMorgan CIO traders Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout with various crimes for mis-marking the London Whale structured credit portfolio positions. The complaints are here and here and reading them you get the strong sense that Bruno Iksil, the Whale himself, was the hero of the whole saga. Oh, sure, he […]

    / Aug 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM
  • This is really his twitter picture, and is the best.


    77-Year-Old Man Good At Twitter

    Once upon a time before there were activist hedge funds there were corporate raiders, whose business model was buy stock in company, be annoying, sell stock back to company at higher price. This model had many delights of which perhaps the greatest was that you couldn’t really, like, do damage to your reputation. The more […]

    / Aug 13, 2013 at 6:12 PM
  • regulators, mount up


    Penny-Stock Fraud Operators Mastered The Art Of Cross-Selling

    Today the Justice Department indicted nine people for operating “one of the largest international penny stock frauds and advance fee schemes in history” and as you’d expect from that description it was a very professional multinational operation.1 I mean, y’know, it was a penny-stock pump-and-dump scheme, one involving “distributing false press releases, announcing non-existent business […]

    / Aug 13, 2013 at 1:37 PM
  • Is it not odd that the two protagonists of the research-analyst fight, Spitzer and Blodget, are like permanent fixtures of our public life?


    Research Analysts Are Talking To Companies Again

    Apparently FINRA is looking into whether sell-side research analysts are doing some naughty things, which is an evergreen topic, though you might almost imagine that the current round is being prompted by the return to public life of Eliot Spitzer, who gets a quote in the DealBook article. Eliot Spitzer: not a fan of research-analyst […]

    / Aug 12, 2013 at 10:53 AM
  • He's pretty underphotographed for a big hedge fund manager.


    JOBS Act Helps Hedge Fund Raise Money Through Widespread Advertising

    A good rule of thumb is never to reason from an acronym but here’s this Bloomberg article about how Dan Loeb’s Third Point Reinsurance is making use of the JOBS Act in its IPO even though it creates no JOBS in America so hahaha irony. It’s not entirely clear what Third Point Re is doing […]

    / Aug 9, 2013 at 3:30 PM
  • From up here, Richmond, CA, seems to be a peaceful town much like any other. But look closer and you will find etc. etc.


    Mortgage Investors Don’t Want Richmond To Take Away Their Mortgages

    The city of Richmond, CA, is trying to use eminent domain to seize and refinance underwater mortgages, and yesterday the trustees of some mortgage bonds holding those mortgages sued to stop them. On its surface the lawsuit is about constitutional law but really it’s about option valuation. To stylize it a bit, the plan is […]

    / Aug 8, 2013 at 1:03 PM
  • Impressed


    Phil Falcone Sues Charles Ergen For Acting Like Phil Falcone

    Presumably someone is working on a book about the LightSquared saga though so far this is all that I can find on Amazon. But the twists and turns of Phil Falcone’s efforts to build a relatively non-plane-crashing wireless communications network, the dizzying highs and subsequent definitive lows of his relationship with the FCC, LightSquared’s bankruptcy, […]

    / Aug 7, 2013 at 3:03 PM
  • brian moynihan


    Everybody Will Always Be Suing BofA Over Mortgages

    These lawsuits against Bank of America are pretty lame, aren’t they? The SEC and Department of Justice each sued BofA yesterday for fraud in a 2008 prime jumbo mortgage securitization but it doesn’t really feel like fraud. The guns are smoke-free. The DoJ gets itself all excited because someone proposed including some bad mortgages in […]

    / Aug 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM
  • Unfair to put Sergio Ermotti here but whatever, you knew what you were getting into when you took over UBS.


    UBS Ripped Off Some Synthetic CDO Investors Because That’s Just What You Did In 2007

    The SEC settled a little crisis-era CDO fraud case with UBS today and the fraud is pretty entertainingly shitty. Basically UBS provided the warehouse for a synthetic CDO where the notorious ACA was the collateral manager, and the disclosed deal was that, when the CDO closed, it would enter into (as protection seller) any CDS […]

    / Aug 6, 2013 at 4:13 PM
  • This is from, which appears to be ... her blog? I ... don't know.


    JPMorgan Finds A Better Use For Its Commodities Brainpower Than Selling Electricity

    UBS is selling its over-the-counter commodity derivatives portfolio to JPMorgan, prompting John Carney to say this: Here’s a good rule of thumb. When one bank buys a business from another bank, it’s almost always a case of regulatory arbitrage. It’s never really because of synergies or managerial talent or whatever other hokum the media relations […]

    / Aug 6, 2013 at 1:35 PM
  • Still fine in Vegas obvs.


    Poker Is Gambling Again, FYI

    A while back a federal judge in New York decided that poker wasn’t illegal gambling under federal law, and we discussed it here, and so I feel a certain sense of responsibility to all of the Dealbreaker readers who quit their jobs to start poker rooms. So I should tell you that that decision was […]

    / Aug 6, 2013 at 11:40 AM
  • Every time you open your mouth, money laundering, apparently.


    FINRA Reminds Brokers That They’re Not Supposed To Help People Launder Money

    A while back Oppenheimer & Co. let some people trade illegally in some penny stocks and today they got in mild trouble for it, settling with FINRA over charges of selling unregistered securities, inadequate supervision, and inadequate anti-money-laundering compliance programs. Oppenheimer agreed to pay a $1.4mm fine and hire a bunch of stop-doing-that consultants to […]

    / Aug 5, 2013 at 5:23 PM
  • I think that when you first become a public figure in the financial world you should be obligated to sit for a range of photographs that would then be put into the public domain to illustrate future articles about you. I don't know exactly what poses I'd demand of everyone but this "THIS GUY AMIRITE" gesture would definitely be one of them. Actually Ackman has a lot of those.


    Everyone Thinks Everyone Else Is Manipulating Herbalife

    There are puzzling reports that Bill Ackman has been complaining to the SEC about George Soros’s investment in Herbalife, claiming that “Soros’ firm broke insider-trading rules by tipping hedge funds about its purchases” at “idea meetings.” You might remember Bill Ackman as the man who called a big press conference to tell everyone that he […]

    / Aug 5, 2013 at 12:18 PM
  • I mean they probably aren't actually setting up the chairs or anything.


    Dell Pretty Sure That This Time It’s Figured Out This Merger Thing

    Did you fly to Round Rock today to vote on Michael Dell and Silver Lake’s buyout of Dell? No, you did not, even I can’t keep up that fiction any more. By my count this is the third same-day cancellation of the special meeting but everyone’s figured out the game by now. Dell will eventually […]

    / Aug 2, 2013 at 4:27 PM


    A Fine And A Ban On Working In The Securities Industry Don’t Sound That Bad To Sergey Aleynikov

    Poor Fab, but it could be worse. Michael Lewis has a heartbreaking, enraging story in Vanity Fair about poor Sergey Aleynikov, the former Goldman programmer and current Dostoyevskyan holy fool who was sentenced to federal prison for eight years for stealing computer code from Goldman, won a complete victory on appeal, was released, has lost […]

    / Aug 2, 2013 at 11:47 AM

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