Team Citi can’t keep track of its own money, but they will track yours and that of your neighbor, thanks to the Bundle, which “removes the veil of secrecy from how other people save and spend their money.” For example, you can learn that “Singles, 36- to 49-year-olds in Dallas spend $57 per month on hobbies. Who knew?” The main argument is that “being privy to the financial habits of others helps guide a person’s own activity.” What? Okay no but seriously– WTF?
Posts by Yaël Bizouati
As you’re aware, Governor Paterson won’t seek reelection ’cause of a few little bombshells in the Times. So Mr. P is having a press conference at 3 and we’re hoping he’s going to announce a Spitzer involvement in some capacity (as we wrote last week, the Gov has been asking Spitzer to “advise” him on several matters). Any ideas how?
As you know, AIG’s fourth quarter results came in– not so good!. In any case, Bobby B. is happy and wants the world to know it. AIG reported a loss of $8.9 billion in the fourth quarter, which is an improvement from the $61.7 billion loss in the year-ago period. And this, my friends, is making Bobby “proud” and he wants to thank you. Yes you, all of you. He “appreciates the support of the people in this country.” Bobby is also very thankful to have such wonderful employees. Employees, who not only work at the most despised company, but who do so “with commitment and enthusiasm.” He’s “very impressed with their attitude and the willingness to roll up their sleeves and make things happen.”
Also, he’s got a plan.
Senator Chuck Grassley would like Lloyd Blankfein to please stand up, leave his nuclear balls behind and explain what the deal is with the ad Goldman placed in Politico about being “one of the principal underwriters of the “Build America Bonds” program.
Specifically, Grassley is interested in finding out whether “the big Wall Street investment banks being so involved in, and profiting from, the Build America Bonds program siphons off a lot of taxpayer dollars that are meant to help cities and states.”
There were some rumors today that Citi hated the gays after the bank account of Web site Fabulis was shut down. But Citi now says it was all based on technical issues and the account has been unblocked, and Fabulis just wants to put the whole thing behind them. Also, Citi would like to remind everyone that they’re actually gay-lovers anyway. “In fact, this week Citi has announced the financing for the True Colors Residence, a housing facility for homeless GLBT youth in New York City,” the bank told us. So there. Carry on.
As you might have figured out, the SEC can’t do anything right besides ranking the best top 10 porn sites, and relies on “crazy-brave” people to go after gangsters and do all the legwork for them. Today, though, the agency really showed some initiative by charging Madoff’s director of operations, Daniel Bonventre, with some wrongdoing, more than a year after the Ponzi saga started.
As we wrote yesterday, Harry Markopolos has a book hitting the shelves next week. But, as Marko is realizing, the price of fame is high and calling Madoff the “lowest form of scum” can be hazardous. He now has to wear more disguises (mostly wigs) and is afraid for his safety. But he is “crazy-brave” and lemons-lemonade, he’s now being asked to look into the Kennedy assassination, so not all’s bad. Harry has some regrets however, and wishes he’d handled things in a different way, especially when it comes to Spitzer.
Ben Bernanke is looking into Goldman’s Greek shenanigans, which may or may not have been strictly kosher- depending on if you pray at the House of LB or the house of Taibbi. The deals were brokered in 2001, so yeah, nine years seem about a reasonable amount of time for the Fed to start worrying. Bernanke, testifying this morning before the Senate Banking Committee, said that the ever-so-quick-to-take kids over at the SEC don’t want to miss on the action either. They’re “interested in the issue.”
Mr. Bernanke said credit default swaps can be useful in hedging, but added, “obviously using these instruments in a way that intentionally destabilizes a company or country is counterproductive.”
John in-the past-we-took-comp-too-far Mack still thinks that the industry “doesn’t get it” and that the administration has been focusing too much on comp structure issues and not on size, which yes, is the only thing that matters. So the Mackster, who might be bored with his downtime and who does get it, is offering to arrange a little get-together with major banks and regulators to sort this whole thing out. “If we don’t do something, the government will do something,” he said.
ESL founder and Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert released his annual letter to shareholders yesterday, in which he unloaded a year’s worth of angst. First, the rating agencies. While Eddie understands that they sometimes err on the side of caution, he just doesn’t agree “with all of the critical qualitative conclusions.” Next, business leaders, regulators, public officials and journalists- they’re all the same. They “have become an echo chamber of self-support and self-congratulation, whether on TV, in print or at numerous conferences. Their words and their actions are often self-serving and they are typically regarded and reported on as if they were obvious and selfless.”
“They’re a bunch of idiots” the Whistleblower-in-Chief told New York Times magazine, demonstrating commendable restraint in not calling them “retards.” In related news, Marko’s book, No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller, co-written by hedge fund manager-cum-auteur David Einhorn, is hitting shelves next week. A signed copy is being sent Bernie’s way as we speak.
So the SEC voted 3-2 in favor of restricting short-selling today, at the risk of pissing off Goldman Sachs, whose head of US equity trading Paul Russo had been lobbying against the proposal for some time. However, even Mary Schapiro knows that no one can truly make a full frontal attack on GS, and mitigated the rule to take into consideration Russo’s advice, deemed to be the “least harmful”: trigger a circuit breaker any time a stock has dropped 10% in one day.