The Latest

Bob Gross The Cat, who rose to prominence as an honorary CIO of the world’s biggest bond firm and had the uncommon intellectual capability to understand when her owner was on television, died last week. She was 14 years old. Bob is survived by her loving masters, Bill and Sue. Read more »

  • 03 Apr 2014 at 11:00 AM

The Profits Of Neutrality

The Swiss have never let unprovoked aggression deter them from doing business with the aggressors, and this long, proud tradition of profiting at others’ expense continues. Plus, they’ve already given up enough lucrative endeavors at the behest of Washington. Read more »

Remember Frank Perkins Hixon Jr.? Made something of a name for himself when he became the first Evercore employee in history to be accused of insider trading, which he apparently did in part to raise funds to support the child he had with Destiny Wind Robinson? He may be going away for a while. Also, he’s sorry. Read more »

Opening Bell: 04.03.14

Moody’s Is No-Show in Bond Deal Rating (WSJ)
When the sale of more than $1 billion in commercial-mortgage bonds went off without a hitch last week, one name was conspicuously missing from the prospectus: Moody’s Investors Service. The ratings firm, known for adopting more-cautious stances than its rivals, has been a mainstay on such deals during the aftershocks of the financial crisis. But with investors scrambling to buy higher-yielding bond deals, the underwriters on this one took a gamble that they could still sell the securities without the rater’s seal of approval. When the market was tougher, bankers “were not willing to [sell a bond] without putting a Moody’s rating on it,” said Lea Overby, head of commercial-mortgage-backed securities research at Nomura Securities International. “It’s worth a shot to try it now” given the market’s strength, she said.

Judge tosses man’s claim of ownership of Facebook (AP)
A federal judge has officially closed the book on a New York man’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit claiming half-ownership of Facebook. Judge Richard Arcara has granted Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s motion to dismiss Paul Ceglia’s lawsuit. Last week’s ruling affirms a magistrate judge’s recommendation from a year ago saying the lawsuit should be thrown out because the contract Ceglia based it on was faked. Ceglia is from Wellsville. He claimed he and Zuckerberg signed a 2003 software development contract that included a provision entitling him to half-ownership of Facebook in exchange for startup money for the budding company. Facebook lawyers say the two had a contract but references to Facebook were slipped in for the lawsuit.

Morgan Stanley CFO says companies need more female executives (Reuters)
Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat on Wednesday called on government and corporate leaders to encourage the promotion of women into senior business roles, saying the number of women in top positions at U.S. corporations is “an embarrassment.”

Yelp Reviews Brew a Fight Over Free Speech vs. Fairness (WSJ)
In early 2012, Joe Hadeed, owner of Hadeed Carpet Cleaning Inc., arrived at his office atop a 70,000-square-foot warehouse in Springfield, Va., to discover a critique posted on Yelp.com: “Lots of hype, a mediocre cleaning and a hassle at the end. Don’t go with Joe!” wrote a “Mike M.” A few days later, another review, by “M.P.” popped up: “I will never use them again and advise others to proceed with caution!” it said. Over the next several weeks, a string of similarly harsh reviews replaced more-favorable comments “as if someone had flipped a switch,” said the 47-year-old Mr. Hadeed, in an interview last month at his offices, where trucks drop off carpets to be washed, rinsed and dried…Following the rash of negative Yelp reviews, business sank 30% in 2012, Mr. Hadeed says. Last year, Hadeed cleaned just 20,000 carpets, down from 29,000 in 2011. Revenue fell to $9.5 million from $12 million in 2011. Mr. Hadeed said the business has let 80 workers go and sold six trucks, reducing its fleet to 54…In July 2012, Hadeed sued the seven reviewers for defamation, and demanded that Yelp turn over their true identities. So far, both the Alexandria Circuit Court and the Virginia Court of Appeals have sided with Mr. Hadeed, holding Yelp in contempt for not turning over the names. Yelp in January appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the reviews are protected under the First Amendment and that Mr. Hadeed offered scant evidence that they were fakes. This month the Supreme Court could issue an order granting or denying Yelp’s appeal, or schedule a hearing in Richmond, which could take place in the next 90-120 days.

Rachel Canning, teen who sued parents, picks college (USAT)
Rachel Canning, the New Jersey high school senior who made national headlines after suing her parents last month, has chosen a college. The 18-year-old Canning announced on her Facebook page in a public post Saturday that she plans to attend Western New England University as a biomedical engineering major on a $56,000 scholarship. “Decision made. WNE U class of 2018 BME Major w/ 56,000$ scholarship,” read the Facebook post. The post had more than 145 likes before it was removed or restricted to the public at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday…Canning sued her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning of Lincoln Park, for child support and college costs, filing a lawsuit on Feb. 24 in Superior Court in Morristown, N.J. After the judge denied Canning’s claim for immediate assistance on March 4, she moved back in with her parents March 11, and dropped her lawsuit the following day. Read more »

Write-Offs: 04.02.14

$$$ Lewis Likens Einhorn to ‘Dumb Tourist’ in Fixed Card Game [Bloomberg]

$$$ Lewis Calls Flash Boys Blowback ‘Thoughtless’ [BusinessWeek]

$$$ Investors Clamor for Risky Debt Offerings [WSJ]

$$$ Handler, Leucadia’s Chief, Takes Pay Cut in New Role [Dealbook]

$$$ Yoga Enthusiast, 68, Busted For Public Pleasure Session (But Not For Throwing Dead Animal At Passing Car) [TSG] Read more »

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  • 02 Apr 2014 at 8:10 PM
  • Banks

Blythe Masters’ Work Here Is Done

Having built and then been forced to sell JPMorgan’s commodities business, Blythe is going to take some me time. Read more »

  • 02 Apr 2014 at 5:19 PM

JP Morgan Fugutive Open To Dropping Fugitive Status

A lawyer for a former JPMorgan Chase & Co trader accused of helping to hide trading losses tied to a $6.2 billion financial scandal said on Wednesday his client was open to leaving France to voluntarily face U.S. criminal charges. Julien Grout, the former trader, is accused of participating in a conspiracy to hide losses within JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office in London by marking positions in a credit derivatives portfolio at inflated prices. He and another one-time trader at the bank, Javier Martin-Artajo, are considered fugitives by the U.S. government for not coming to the United States to face trial over charges stemming from the so-called London Whale scandal. But at a hearing in federal court in New York, Marc Weinstein, a lawyer for Grout, told U.S. District Judge George Daniels that talks were under way with prosecutors about a bail package that would enable Grout, a French citizen, to come to the United States. [Reuters]

  • 02 Apr 2014 at 5:00 PM
  • Banks

El Chapo Guzman May Still Be Banking With HSBC

Remember that time HSBC was found to be running a lucrative money-laundering business on the side, cheerfully doing business with Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, the Iranians, Burmese and the Cubans? And how it agreed to stop and be a good boy and oh yea pay about $2 billion if federal prosecutors agreed not to file criminal charges against it?

Well, coming up with $1.9 billion was the easy part. Making sure you’re not doing the thing that forced you to write that check in the first place? This is a stickier matter. Read more »