I really did invent the question mark

James Cayne would probably love it if he could place a hand on Lloyd Blankfein’s incredibly soft, smooth cheek (or head) and say, “You and me, we’re not so different,” but, according to Bloomberg, that’s never going to happen. Because Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns *are* different, despite the fact that both investment banks have guided their internal hedge funds through a sea of major-dare we say embarrassing-losses over the last few weeks. For starters, stocks and bonds-in GS’s corner, stock is trading at 2.2 times book value, and the risk premium on bonds is 35 percent lower than for Bear, whose shares are now radioactive and whose A+ rated debt is viewed, and this is just clinical terminology, as a pile of junk.
Another topical difference between the two concerns their approaches to failures. Now, you’re probably saying yourself, “Bear Stearns has A LOT more experience managing things that are the opposite of successful. So it should stand to reason that they’re better at it than Goldman, who, up until recently was perfect.” And you’d be wrong. Because when Bear Stearns fails, it sees its failure as an opportunity-to fail yet again. First, BS attempted to stave off a collapse in June by locking up money and unloading securities in order to meet lenders’ requests for more collateral. This strategy, not unlike the hedging strategies employed in the first place Bear Stearns’s High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies and High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage, failed. When Goldman lost several hundred truckloads of money, it turned to fellow money-changers Hank Greenberg and Eli Broad to take advantage of its “not a rescue.” While it’s certainly not winning any awards for excellence in hedge funditry, Goldman has managed to keep its funds afloat, while the Bear Stearns funds, for all intents and purposes, exist only on paper in bankruptcy court.
Let’s keep going with the diffs: you’ve got geography-Bear’s in midtown, Goldman’s way down on Broad Street. And confidence–people have some in Lloyd Blankfein/Goldman (in lieu of “confidence,” terms “respect for”, “fear of”, and the like work, too). The answer to the question, “Where can you find the bank’s CEO at approximately 3 pm on a Tuesday?” (A. Blankfein-his office; Cayne-the golf course, except on the last Tuesday of every month, when it’s “at a bridge table, not doing a very good job of earning the title ‘championship bridge player’.”) Laxity versus stringency regarding health codes. Company-mandated hairstyles. Etc.
Blankfein-Cayne Spread Widens to ’01 High in Flight to Quality [Bloomberg]

From a report that’s poised to win a cornucopia of awards for its breakthroughs in the field of human behavior, scientists—yes, scientists—have determined that “US executives have been able to secure more favorable research ratings for their companies from investment banks by bestowing professional favors on Wall Street analysts.” Time out. Did they just say what we think they just said? Let’s watch the tape again: “US executives have been able to secure more favorable research ratings for their companies from investment banks by bestowing professional favors on Wall Street analysts.” They did, indeed! Hang on. We need a second.
Okay, we’re going to try and muscle through this. “Unprecedented research” performed on 1,800 equity analysts found that an executive could greatly increase the odds of his company getting a happy face emoticon instead of the one with a foot where the mouth should be, by offering analysts favors ranging from recommending them for a job to agreeing to speak with their clients to blow job y backrub combos. Jesusmaryandjoseph! Keithrichardhahn! Johnfranciscarneythethird!
We’re not finished— analyst receiving two favors were 50% less likely than non-favor receiving colleagues to downgrade a company. We’re not finished—“favor-rending” to analysts in order to reduce the chances of a downgrade in the wake of poor results or a controversial deal is “widespread.” Meaning it happens a lot? In what kind of sick, fucked up, alternate universe was this study conducted?
Are you ready for this biggest kicker of them all? Kurt Schacht, director of the Center for Financial Market Integrity at the CFA Institute, which represents more than 80,000 analysts and fund managers, said that “Activities such as these are in clear breach of our code of conducts and standards…and are unethical.” Someone hand us a Molotov cocktail.
Executives find favours bring better ratings [FT]

Blind Item: Smells Like Bear Stearns

eyeliner4.jpgCross-dressing tranny investment bankers (is that redundant?) being our beat, it’s kind of a blow to the ego that we can’t get this one:

WHICH multifaceted investment banker has been freaking friends
out with his atrocious attire? The formerly fashion-forward mogul has
recently been spotted by close pals “wearing muumuus, kimonos and

This is an out-and-out plea. I have no [real] job, no money, no woman, no prospects, nothing on the horizon, no action at all, and no conceivable reason for even getting up in the morning (though I like to get the Daily News). I NEED to know. Help me now.
Just Asking [NYP]
The Keys [Seinfeld Scripts]

Trader Monthly (a long-term investing publication) submits that Chicago, and not New York, is the “greatest trading city in the world.” Discuss. (And see related).
Chicago is “greatest trading city” [Reuters]