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goat7A few weeks ago, the hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel was walking through a wooded area on his 200-acre farm in Northport, Michigan, shouting at goats. “A droite! A droite!” he called, urging the animals to return to a path from which they had strayed in order to nibble on the surrounding brush. When Spitznagel was first launching his goat cheese farm, called Idyll Farms, around 2012, he hired consultants from France– but of course– to come to Michigan and help train him and his staff, and the goats have grown used to hearing commands in French. “A droite! A droite!” Spitznagel shouts, tapping on the ground with a long, hooked walking stick he sometimes uses to gently prod the animals….They seem intelligent, I said to Spitznagel. “They’re herd animals,” he responded. “They’re as smart as any investment manager out there.” [Worth]

  • 10 Dec 2014 at 8:45 AM

Pay Hike Watch ’14: Citigroup

citi07x-large-260x195At long last, the littlest members of Team Citi have gotten word they’ll be receiving raises to base pay, just like their fellow junior mistmakers across Wall Street. Read more »

Opening Bell: 12.10.14

browniesHarvard Business School Professor Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food (Boston)
Ben Edelman is an associate professor at Harvard Business School, where he teaches in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit. Ran Duan manages The Baldwin Bar, located inside the Woburn location of Sichuan Garden, a Chinese restaurant founded by his parents. Last week, Edelman ordered what he thought was $53.35 worth of Chinese food from Sichuan Garden’s Brookline Village location. Edelman soon came to the horrifying realization that he had been overcharged. By a total of $4. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4, you’re about to find out. (Hint: It involves invocation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and multiple threats of legal action.)

Ben Edelman email

U.S. extends scrutiny of Standard Chartered on sanctions compliance (Reuters)
Standard Chartered will face another three years of scrutiny by U.S. prosecutors for compliance with government sanctions against certain countries, according to documents filed on Tuesday that also noted another probe of the bank is underway. The original deferred prosecution agreements, struck with the U.S. Justice Department and the Manhattan district attorney over the bank’s violations related to U.S. sanctions on Iran and other countries, was due to expire on Wednesday. The agreement to extend the deals means that the bank will face enhanced oversight for a longer period of time and could be hit with harsher penalties.

After party claims, CTPartners pulls $11.9M stock sale (NYP)
Wall Street recruiter CTPartners pulled a public stock sale that would have raised $11.9 million after The Post published a complaint on Monday detailing sexual discrimination claims, including a boozy, naked romp led by the CEO. The stock, which tanked 24 percent the day of The Post’s story, closed up 8.8 percent at $15.23 on Tuesday after the company yanked the deal that would have diluted existing shareholders. The shares, which had risen 250 percent this year, are still down 18 percent from Friday’s closing price of $18.50. CEO Brian Sullivan and other honchos got so drunk they stripped bare and jumped into the ocean at the end of a four-day partner meeting at his home in May 2012, four workers alleged in a complaint.

Phibro To Shut Down US Business (WSJ)
Phibro Trading LLC is closing its doors in the U.S., marking the end of an era for a commodities firm that came to prominence under oil trader Andrew Hall. The 113-year-old company, founded in Germany by two scrap-metal dealers, is winding down its U.S. operations after it failed to find a buyer, according to a person familiar with the situation. The sale process for units in London and Singapore continues, the person said. Phibro specialized in physical trading of oil and other raw materials, seeking to profit by moving actual barrels and acting as an intermediary between producers and consumers. The pool of potential buyers for these kinds of operations has dwindled in recent years amid a regulatory crackdown on Wall Street banks’ involvement in these markets.

Student Charged After Teacher Eats Pot Brownie (AP)
Police say a Maryland teenager eating a pot brownie in class panicked when his teacher asked him for a piece of the treat, and that he is now charged for obliging. Anne Arundel County police said Tuesday that the 17-year-old didn’t tell the teacher that the brownie contained marijuana. She began feeling ill and acting disoriented, and was brought to the nurse’s office at Broadneck High School in Annapolis on Monday. The teacher told police that the student had given her the brownie during third period and that she suspected it contained marijuana. Read more »

Write-Offs: 12.9.14

$$$ Greece Lurches Bank Into Crisis Mode [Bloomberg]

$$$ U.S. Extends Scrutiny of Standard Chartered [WSJ]

$$$ William Rogers Salomon, who helped transform Salomon Brothers into an international banking powerhouse, died Sunday. He was 100 years old. [WSJ]

$$$ Jack Bogle: I Wouldn’t Risk Investing Outside the U.S. [Bloomberg]

$$$The enraged customer reportedly reached into his buddy’s pocket, pulled out a garter snake and threw it at a Tim Hortons employee because the onions on his breakfast sandwich weren’t diced.” [HP] Read more »

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James River Group Holdings Isn’t Interested In Labels

Claim.James River Group Holdings is owned by a hedge fund. And it kind of invests a little like a hedge fund. And it does some other potentially risky things, like insure Uber, which is a thing that hedge funds—and hedge fund managers—happen to enjoy. Still, it doesn’t want you to get the wrong idea, should you perhaps be interested in buying a couple of shares: James River Group is an insurer that cannot be pinned down or defined by a couple of stupid words, like “hedge” and “fund.” Read more »

Lehman BrothersIn fairness, no one has officially measured and reported the size of Jonathan Hoffman’s testicles. But you’d have to figure they’re pretty big to hugely big based on the fact that he’s put forth the argument that:

  • Barclays paid him the $84 million he was owed by Lehman Brothers for his work in 2008, which was quite nice of them…
  • …Having said that, that doesn’t leave Lehman Brothers off the hook…
  • …While Lehman contends that Barclays paid the bonus because it took over all the Lehman employee contracts…
  • …Hoffman delightfully argues that he and Barclays had their own separate contractual agreement because he was hired by the British bank independent of its deal with Lehman1
  • …and therefore the Lehman estate still owes him his god damn money…

Read more »

On the one hand....After an embarrassing predictive losing streak, Goldman resumed its customary winning ways on Election Day, when its millions helped put Mitch McConnell on the cover of Time magazine. And the bank has no intention of allowing its nascent winning streak to come to an end in guessing what the stock market’s going to do next year. Luckily, Team Lloyd has a plan. Two plans, actually. Read more »

macadamia-nutsMs. Cho, who is in charge of Korean Air’s in-flight services and hotel business and a daughter of Chairman Cho Yang-ho, was seated in the plane’s first-class cabin when a flight attendant served her an unopened bag of macadamia nuts. The problem arose after Ms. Cho said the flight attendant should have first asked her if she wanted the nuts, and then served them on a plate, not in the bag, per Korean Air in-flight service rules, according to a spokesman. Ms. Cho “screamed and scolded” the flight attendant and asked the purser in charge of in-flight administration and supply about the proper procedure for food service in first class, company officials said. Unsatisfied with his response, she demanded that he get off the plane, delaying the flight for about 20 minutes…According to South Korean aviation regulations, a plane preparing for takeoff should return to the ramp only if the pilot determines there is an emergency situation, such as one involving the safety of the aircraft or its passengers. Violators can face up to 10 years in prison. [WSJ]