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Bill Ackman Knows How To Fix Herbalife

First thing you do....If he cared only for himself, he’d keep the secret of turning a pyramid scheme into a legitimate business to himself. But the Pershing Square chief is back in the black vis-à-vis HLF, and feeling generous. So, here’s his recipe for success, as laid out in a kindly letter to Herbalife’s new compliance chief:

Step One: Throw everything out.

Step Two: Start over and build something that doesn’t violate every law on the books and every clause of the constitution and every tenet of human decency. Read more »

  • 07 Nov 2014 at 1:02 PM

Real Ponzi Scheme Possible With Fake Money

Hard to believe this guy was (allegedly) running a bitcoin scam.Inevitably, somebody was going to run a Ponzi scheme with bitcoins, and so it has (allegedly!) come to pass: Trendon Shavers of exurban Dallas won the race to be hit with the first such criminal charges, although some of the element of surprise went out of it when the SEC fined him $40 million for the same thing two months ago.

But Shavers was not content merely to enjoy the proceeds of said (alleged) Ponzi scheme. As old friend Matt points out over at Bloomberg View, in a feat of confidence worthy of Bernie Madoff, he actually bet someone 5,000 bitcoins that his enterprise was not a Ponzi scheme. But do not say Shavers is without honor; say he is without intelligence: Much to his lawyers’ current chagrin, he (allegedly) ‘fessed up that it was, in fact, a Ponzi scheme, and made good on the bet. Read more »

Opening Bell: 11.07.14

mark-zuckerbergAllianz Raises Payout, Confirms Target Amid Pimco Trouble (Bloomberg)
Allianz SE pledged to pay a higher share of profit to shareholders and confirmed its full-year profit target as the Pimco asset management unit struggles to contain outflows following the departure of Bill Gross. “Starting with the financial year 2014, the intention is to propose an increased regular payout to Allianz shareholders of 50 percent of net income,” the Munich-based company said yesterday in a statement. That compares with a pay-out ratio of 40 percent at Europe’s biggest insurer in the past.

Morgan Stanley Among First to Add Uber to Travel Policy (Bloomberg)
Morgan Stanley employees can use Uber Technologies Inc. cars for company trips, making the bank one of the first firms to make it policy to reimburse employees for the service. “Employees expressed their strong affinity for the convenience Uber offers them in their personal lives and wanted that flexibility for their business travel needs as well,” Jeff Brodsky, human resources chief at New York-based Morgan Stanley, said today in a statement.

Luxembourg vows to end banking secrecy (FT)
Luxembourg has pledged to overhaul its culture of financial secrecy, and has fought back against accusations that it helped leading multinationals avoid billions of dollars of tax. The claims could prove highly embarrassing to Jean-Claude Juncker, the new president of the European Commission, who was prime minister of Luxembourg when the corporate tax deals were allegedly struck. Officials were responding to a report that more than 340 multinationals, including such global names as Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and JPMorgan, made secret deals with the Grand Duchy between 2002 and 2010 that saved them billions of dollars in taxes. The commission is already investigating whether rulings agreed by the Luxembourg tax authority with Fiat Finance and Trade, the financial arm of the car company, and Amazon, the ecommerce company, which were also issued during Mr Juncker’s premiership, amounted to improper state aid. Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg’s finance minister, refused to blame Mr Juncker on Thursday for past practices, but insisted that his own government was now forging a new culture of financial transparency.

Mark Zuckerberg says ‘The Social Network’ hurt his feelings (NYP)
“They just kind of made up a bunch of stuff that I found really hurtful. They made up this whole plot line about how I somehow decided to create Facebook to attract girls. The real story is a lot of hard work. If they were really making a movie [about his starting Facebook]…it would be of me sitting there coding for two hours straight.”

Ex-Billionaire Insider-Trading Case an Anomaly (Bloomberg)
Less than three years after Eike Batista was dubbed by President Dilma Rousseff “the pride of Brazil,” prosecutors will try to send the former billionaire to prison for alleged insider trading in a trial set for later this month. He’d be the first. In a nation where most big deals leak, no one has ever been imprisoned for using insider information in the 13 years since such activity was made illegal. And fines are small: Of the 57 cases of insider trading ruled on by securities regulator CVM between 2006 to 2013, all but seven involved fines of less than $160,000.

Man eats 100 Olive Garden meals in 6 weeks with $100 ‘pasta pass’ (Today)
The pass, sold in a limited quantity of 1,000 during a recent stunt by the beleaguered casual Italian dining chain, grants its bearers as much pasta, salad, soup, breadsticks and soft drinks as they can consume during the seven-week promotional period. On November 5, Martin ate his 100th meal at the Olive Garden near his home, gluten-free rigatoni with spicy meat sauce and meatballs. “I try something different every time,” said Alan Martin, who has now become something of a celebrity at the restaurant. “I tried chasing him out the door,” said Burlington Olive Garden manager Jeremy Byrnes. “I just wanted to congratulate him. Mr. Martin’s like part of the family now.” So far Martin has eaten over $1,600 worth of food after paying $100 for the pass. His goal is to hit $1,800. Each meal has a value of about $16. Getting through the first week was tough, even though Martin and his family love Olive Garden. But by the second and third week, “I was craving it,” said Martin. “I started getting there earlier and earlier.” Now, six weeks in and with days to go before the free pass runs out, “it’s hard eating other food,” he said. Martin says he currently weighs 212, the same as when he started. To keep the pounds off his 5 foot 11 frame, he’s kept up his weightlifting routine and watches the calorie count. The average Olive Garden pasta bowl with toppings is 500-600 calories, of which he usually eats half. Each breadstick is 180 calories. The salads can be another couple hundred depending on which you order. “I just eat enough to knock out my appetite,” said Martin. His doctor doesn’t know about the pasta diet yet, but Martin, who’s been taking vitamins since beginning his campaign, isn’t worried. “I’m going to let him fix me if I’m broken,” he said. Previously, Martin won free breakfast for a year at Chick-Fil-A. “That whet my appetite for this kind of contest,” he said. Read more »

Write-Offs: 11.06.14

$$$ The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare [Rolling Stone]

$$$ Hundreds of Companies Seen Cutting Tax Bills by Sending Money Through Luxembourg [NYT]

$$$ Caught in Insider Trading Crackdown, Ex-Galleon Trader Turns It Around [Dealbook]

$$$ Jobless Claims Fall to Second-Lowest Level of Year [WSJ]

$$$ Burglar Breaks Into Woman’s House to Eat Cookie Dough Out of the Freezer [Daily Intel] Read more »

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There it is.If yes, he’ll need a few extra bucks to pay for that something.

“Keep in mind that some of our major financial institutions are spending more on cybersecurity each year than our agency’s entire budget,” he said at an industry conference in Chicago.

CFTC’s Cybersecurity Checks Hurt By Budget Constraints, Chairman Says [WSJ]

brian_moynihan_bofaBank of America Corp. reduced third-quarter profit by $400 million because of higher litigation expenses related to probes of the firm’s foreign-exchange business. The lender adjusted results for the three months ended Sept. 30 to a net loss of $232 million, or 4 cents a share, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America said today in a statement…Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. lender, previously said it had $5.6 billion in third-quarter legal expenses, according to an Oct. 15 presentation, with almost 90 percent attributed to the mortgage settlement. The firm had posted a surprise quarterly profit before today’s disclosure. [Bloomberg]

Not too worried.Have you been to Brighton Beach? It’s just like the Crimea, except without the Russian troops. And since the government has declared not-entirely-but-kinda open season on all things Russian, and since the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York can practically see Little Odessa from her office, why shouldn’t her office be the one to go after one of Vladimir Putin’s buddies for money laundering? Read more »

  • 06 Nov 2014 at 3:45 PM

Bill Ackman Doing Alright For Himself This Year

bill_ackman_600x450Herbalife failing to fall off a cliff notwithstanding, the hedge fund manager and his clients have a lot (of money) to smile about. Bonus: it looks like Bill won’t have to bust his ass to find houses to flip in South Florida just yet. Read more »