The Latest

  • 19 Aug 2014 at 11:40 AM

Art Dealer’s Husband Thinks ECB QE Would Be Terrible

Remember Philipp Hildebrand? ‘Bout yea high? Firecracker of a wife? Had to step down as head of the Swiss National Bank because in between hedge-fund managing and art-dealing, said firecracker couldn’t resist the franc-dollar spread that her husband was helping create?

Well, Phil’s clearly itching to do some central banking again. And since he’s not allowed to do any actual central banking, he’ll do some back-seat central banking on some salmon-colored newsprint. And while he admires his fellow retiree Ben Bernanke, he just thinks Europe could be a little more European about how it solves its myriad problems. Read more »

  • 19 Aug 2014 at 10:15 AM
  • Banks

Standard Chartered-N.Y. Regulator Relationship On The Mend

Last time Standard Chartered had a little run-in with Benjamin Lawsky—you know, for money laundering for the ayatollahs—it walked away $340 million lighter. It also promised to pay some extra attention to the kinds of things that Benjamin Lawsky might want it to pay attention to.

And it has! Just, not to the extent that old Benjamin Lawsky wanted. But he’s going to go easy on them this time. Read more »

Opening Bell: 08.19.14

Bidding War Breaks Out to Dominate Dollar Stores (WSJ)
Dollar General Corp, the biggest dollar-store chain in the U.S., on Monday offered to pay $9 billion in cash for the second-biggest, Family Dollar Stores Inc., the latest in a wave of retail mergers that comes as companies struggle with weak traffic and a glut of stores. The offer is an attempt to elbow out the smallest of the three rivals, Dollar Tree Inc., which signed an agreement to acquire Family Dollar three weeks ago. Family Dollar’s board said on Monday that it would review the new $78.50-a-share offer, but continued to recommend shareholders vote for its $74.50-a-share deal with Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree declined to comment. Family Dollar’s stock closed above either price at $79.81, suggesting investors expect the bids to go higher.

Louis Bacon’s Bahamas battle reaches New York court (FT)
A battle over Clifton Bay, a postcard-perfect patch of turquoise waters off the western coast of the Bahamas, has raged for years between a billionaire hedge fund owner and a Canadian clothing mogul. It has now spilled into a New York courtroom in what one side hopes will finally settle the score. Louis Bacon, the billionaire founder of hedge fund Moore Capital Management, took legal action last week by asking a US court to try to gain access to videotaped footage he believes will help him prove that Peter Nygard, founder of clothing manufacturer Nygard International and his Bahamian neighbour, has engaged in a smear campaign against him. The backdrop is a long-running legal feud involving multiple lawsuits over whether Mr Nygard is, as Mr Bacon alleges, harming the environment around Clifton Bay, a beach made famous by James Bond movies, where both men have compounds… The setting for the feud is the exclusive Lyford Cay community on Clifton Bay. In 1993 Mr Bacon bought a 150,000 sq ft estate in a gated community. His nextdoor neighbour is Mr Nygard, who also owns a large estate and has been a permanent resident of the Bahamas since 1986. Mr Nygard has constructed a “Robinson Crusoe playground” with volcanic, smoking Mayan temples, a disco club and 20 themed cabanas where he has hosted celebrities, according to his website.

Goldman to face Libya’s sovereign wealth fund in court over trades (Reuters)
Goldman Sachs and Libya’s sovereign wealth fund are set to meet in a London court over claims the Wall Street bank exploited a position of trust by encouraging the fund to invest more than $1 billion in trades that ended up worthless…The fund, which became a Goldman client in 2007, alleges that the bank deliberately exploited the relationship of trust and confidence it had established with LIA staff, causing the fund to enter into the disputed trades. The LIA estimates that Goldman made substantial profit of around $350 million on the trades, while it was left with “colossal” losses.

BofA’s Montag Becomes Sole COO as Darnell Seeks Transfer (Bloomberg)
Bank of America’s’s Thomas K. Montag, the lender’s top-paid senior manager, will become sole chief operating officer as co-COO David Darnell takes a new title so he can move to Florida. Darnell, 61, will be vice chairman and continue overseeing global wealth and investment management, as well as business banking, Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan wrote in a memo to employees. Montag, who has split the COO job with Darnell since 2011, will still run the investment banking and capital markets businesses.

Steven Cohen’s Firm Loses Another Top Executive (WSJ, earlier)
Thomas Conheeney, who rose over 15 years to become president of Mr. Cohen’s giant hedge-fund firm, resigned Monday, capping a tenure as head of the firm during which eight current or former employees were convicted on criminal charges related to insider trading. Mr. Conheeney was one of the firm’s most vocal defenders during the government’s prosecution of SAC Capital Advisors LP, now called Point72 Asset Management. He will be succeeded by Douglas Haynes, a former director at McKinsey & Co. who was appointed earlier this year to the hedge-fund firm’s executive committee. The turn to Mr. Haynes, 48 years old, is the latest in a series of changes the firm has made—or had thrust upon it—as it has grappled with the effects of the government’s insider-trading investigation.

The Reason We Yawn (WSJ)
To get to the bottom of yawning, scientists have performed dozens of experiments on groups of people and animals, including baboons and parakeets. Yawning is one of the animal kingdom’s great unifiers. It seems almost any creature with a backbone does it. A leading hypothesis is that yawning plays an important role in keeping the brain at its cool, optimal working temperature. The brain is particularly sensitive to overheating, according to Andrew Gallup, an assistant professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Oneonta. Reaction times slow and memory wanes when the brain’s temperature varies even less than a degree from the ideal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Man Fakes Death To Avoid Wedding (HP)
August 15 would have been Alex Lancaster’s wedding day — if her fiancee hadn’t faked his own death. Lancaster, 23, of the United Kingdom, reportedly met Tucker Blandford, also 23, in August 2012, when she was attending college in Connecticut. The two fell quickly in love. “He was such a gentleman. He showered me with jewelry. We would go out for a posh dinner on the tenth of every month to celebrate the day we got together,” Lancaster said, according to the Mirror. “I’d never been in love like that before. I met his family and they treated me like a daughter. His mum and I became so close.” Lancaster feared their good thing would come to an end when she returned home, so when Blandford proposed marriage, she was eager to say yes. The two talked every day and started planning a wedding in Connecticut. Lancaster said she spent money on a dress, invitations and for flights for Blandford so he could see her in the U.K. Things changed a few months ago, when she got a call from a man who said he was Blandford’s father. “He told me Tucker had been deeply depressed and wanted to die, so had thrown himself in front of a car,” she said, according to Yahoo! News UK. “The man explained that they had been trying to send Tucker off to a psychiatric unit for help. But it was too late. I couldn’t breathe. It was absolutely devastating.” She got off the phone emotionally shattered, but things took a weird turn when she called the family back a short time later. Blandford’s mom answered the phone, but had no clue that her son had died. In fact, he was alive and well. “She said Tucker was absolutely fine –- but she also thought we’d split up,” Lancaster told Reveal.co.uk. “She knew nothing about the wedding.” Lancaster quickly discovered that the venue they had supposedly reserved for their wedding had no record of their booking. Although Blandford has since texted to say he was sorry, and has paid back half the $1,200 he owes her for wedding-related expenses, Lancaster refuses any contact…Blandford admits Lancaster’s allegations are true. “I’m a terrible, awful person. I know I shouldn’t have told her I was dead, but I didn’t know what else to do,” he said. Read more »

Write-Offs: 08.18.14

$$$ Jana Says It Received Anonymous Tip in PetSmart Campaign [Dealbook]

$$$ Treasury Officials Prepare Options to Address Inversions [WSJ]

$$$ Dollar General Enters Bidding for Family Dollar [WSJ]

$$$ Mr. Bharara, who like Mr. Springsteen grew up in New Jersey, is a die-hard fan. The Boss also posed for a photo with Mr. Bharara’s son, an image that is now pinned on Mr. Bharara’s office wall; nearby hangs a picture of Mr. Bharara’s mother with the rocker. [NYT]

$$$ After performances by Gladys Knight, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting and Pharrell Williams at Ronald Perelman’s East Hampton estate, Oscar winner Foxx called out to Christie in the audience, “I know you’ve got a dance in you, Chris Christie.” Christie, there as a guest of Bon Jovi, raced to the stage for some rambunctious gyrating. Not to be upstaged, Sen. John McCain then joined Foxx and performed the robot dance before McCartney and Spike Lee showed off more muted moves. [NYP] Read more »

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Wait! Bill Ackman Has Something Else To Say!

Between suing the government for taking all of the profits from two companies that it began taking all of the profits from more than a year before he bought 10% of each of them, and Friday morning, the Pershing Square Capital Management chief had another brilliant idea, and decided to sue the government again. Read more »

The Bitcoin movement has a Tea Party, the cryptoanarchists, and some of them—including at least one accused felon—have made a slick new video declaring the virtual currency’s independence from, well, something high-minded, we’re sure. Read more »

The firm, which is accused of lacking the objectivity and integrity expected of consultants but not actually breaking the law, agreed to pay the fine and accept the two-year sidelining of its regulatory consulting unit. PricewaterhouseCoopers appeared to have had little choice: Mr. Lawsky’s office, which has the authority under a little-known New York law to censure erring consultants even without a legal violation, threatened to otherwise inflict a more sweeping and lengthy prohibition…The settlement involves the firm’s work for the Japanese banking giant, which regulators long suspected of routing money through its New York branches on behalf of nations blacklisted by the United States. The bank voluntarily hired PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2007 to quantify its improper transactions with Iran and other sanctioned countries. [Dealbook]