The Latest

Write-Offs: 04.08.14

$$$ Big Banks to Get Order To Raise Capital Level [WSJ]

$$$ Greece Plans to Issue Long-Term Bond on Wednesday [WSJ]

$$$ Stanford Eclipses Harvard as Applicants Eye Innovation Focus [Bloomberg]

$$$ Banker Dumps Wall Street to Boost Taxes on New York Rich [Bloomberg]

$$$ E-cigarette explodes in English pub, nearly engulfs barmaid in flames [NYDN] Read more »

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If anyone felt the remarks went too far, well, James Kidney is sorry you feel that way. Read more »

Deutsche Bank AG was ordered to give four traders fired in a rate-rigging investigation their exact jobs back while a court is hearing an appeals bid by the lender over the issue. The lender must pay a penalty equal to the men’s monthly salary unless it reinstates them in their original positions, Frankfurt Labor Appeals Court spokesman Wolfram Henkel said in an interview today…The Frankfurt Labor Court ruled last year the terminations were illegal and the bank must reinstate the employees, who made submissions for Euribor and Swiss Franc Libor. The court found “indications” that the fired staff wrongfully took derivatives trading positions into account when deciding what rates to submit. While it’s against bank rules to fix rates, the lender couldn’t use this as a reason to fire them because it didn’t have sufficient guidelines on rate submissions, didn’t control the process, and had systems in place that fostered the behavior, the court wrote in the judgment. [Bloomberg]

  • 08 Apr 2014 at 3:30 PM

Dear Paulson Investors

March didn’t turn out as well as everyone had hoped but, on the bright side, it could’ve been so much worse. Read more »

Bart M. Schwartz, the outside consultant tapped by Steven A. Cohen and federal prosecutors to monitor the operations at Mr. Cohen’s new family office, has closer ties to the firm than previously known. The son of an executive at Mr. Schwartz’s nationwide compliance consulting firm is a portfolio manager at Point72 Asset Management, the firm formerly known as SAC Capital Advisors. Mr. Schwartz said that the potential conflict was disclosed to Mr. Cohen and his legal team and that federal prosecutors and all sides were comfortable with the situation. Mr. Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor, said that he disclosed the matter to the parties soon after he was approached about serving as the outside consultant for Mr. Cohen’s firm. [Dealbook]

In a few short weeks from now, Berkshire Hathaway will hold its annual shareholder meeting in Omaha. For many, this is the social event of the year, a chance to buy deeply discounted products owned by the company and a rare opportunity to stand in close proximity to Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett. But for the last number of years, a dark cloud has hovered over the festivities, thanks to local hotels who see the meeting, to which thousands of people flock, as a convenient time to hike their prices. The opportunistic increase in rates rankles many, but none more than Buffett, who has reportedly had it up to here with the bull shit. And this is what he’s doing about it:

The billionaire investor is planning to mention the [Airbnb] at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s upcoming annual shareholders’ meeting on May 3 as a low-cost alternative for shareholders who don’t want to pay the jacked-up rates that Omaha hotels charge while the gathering is taking place every year…This price-gouging annoys Mr. Buffett, who says shareholders shouldn’t have to pay through their noses for a trip that, when the plane flight and other expenses are included, can add up to several thousand dollars. (Another annoyance for Mr. Buffett: Airlines also raise their Omaha fares for the weekend.) Many shareholders bring their spouses or families along for the weekend, where Berkshire’s more than 70 operating companies offer discounts on their wares. What’s more, many hotels enforce a two- or three-night minimum stay for the weekend.

If it seems unusual for the CEO of a multinational conglomerate to get involved in details like the accommodations of shareholders, you’re right, it is unusual. Brian Moynihan doesn’t call up the Marriott and try to negotiate a better price for investors flying in for the weekend and Jim Gorman doesn’t stock welcome bags with bottled water and pretzels for stakeholders coming in to see him. But Warren Buffett isn’t a regular old CEO. He’s one part chief executive, two parts self-described Mama Bear. Read more »

El-Erian the Man gets the Dealbreaker bag o’ Dealbreaker koozies after benefitting from an extremely low-scoring second half. He comfortably defeated Jos. A. Bernanke to win the fourth annual Dealbreaker NCAA Tournament Challenge. Jos. A. Bank gets quite the consolation prize though, six Pimco pens.

How did El-Erian do it, you ask? Read more »

Opening Bell: 04.08.14

Citi Is Bracing to Miss a Profit Target (WSJ)
Citigroup Inc. is warning investors it may miss a key profitability target after the Federal Reserve rejected the bank’s capital plan last month, people familiar with the matter say. The Fed on March 26 shot down the New York bank’s proposal to boost its dividend and ramp up stock buybacks, saying it had failed to measure potential risks to its operations during a severe economic recession. The rejection makes it unlikely Citigroup can hit its 2015 goal for return on tangible common equity.

Intrade’s New Gamble Is Sports Betting (BusinessWeek)
Contests on Tradesports will consist of a series of markets, where players buy stock based on events within a game. To not run afoul of the law, players cannot simply buy stock on whether the San Antonio Spurs will win; the position must also include a bet on, say, how many rebounds Tim Duncan will pull down. A pot is set in advance, and the stocks can be traded throughout the game. When the final buzzer sounds, players holding stock with the highest combined value win the pot. The company takes a cut of the entry fees.

Bank Regulators Set Vote on Big Jump in Capital Requirements (WSJ)
Under the new “leverage ratio,” scheduled for a vote by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve, the eight biggest U.S. firms would have to double the amount of capital they hold as protection against every loan, investment, building, security and other asset on their books—not just the risky ones…The biggest companies would be required to maintain loss-absorbing capital worth at least 5% of their assets, and their FDIC-insured bank subsidiaries would have to keep a minimum leverage ratio of 6%. The amounts, which are line with what banks expected from regulators, compare with the 3% set out by international accord. For the largest banks, satisfying the new requirement will likely be manageable in the near term, but analysts warned it could constrain future growth since it would limit each bank’s ability to increase its asset base, forcing it to either raise more cash from investors or shed assets elsewhere if it begins to bump up against the ratio’s limits.

Tech Firms May Find No-Poaching Pacts Costly (Dealbook)
A high-stakes negotiation is taking place in Silicon Valley among some of the biggest names in the industry — Apple and Google among them — over accusations that they were involved in a collusion to prevent their employees from being hired at rival companies. The employees filed a class-action suit, contending that the illegal hiring practices cost employees $9 billion in lost wages. Now the companies are locked in mediation sessions, hoping to settle the case in the next several weeks. The question being whispered all over town now is how much will Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe ultimately have to pay? The companies privately scoff at the $9 billion figure that the plaintiffs are seeking, contending it amounts to extortion. The employees, who number about 100,000, suggest that the facts are so damning against the companies — and so embarrassing — that they won’t settle for anything less than a blindingly high number.

Cohen firm has new name, still makes big money (CNBC, earlier)
In an internal email issued Monday morning, the company’s president, Tom Conheeney, praised employees for their loyalty…In a telling line of the morning’s memo, Conheeney spoke of the mark the former hedge fund had made in the business. “At its best, SAC was looked upon as the industry’s leading long/short hedge fund, the place where everyone wanted to work and be,” he wrote. “Our goal, certainly my goal, is to see us reach those heights as Point72, but in a manner that no one can ever claim is the result of anything other than your hard work, integrity and smarts.”

Woman Allegedly Calls Cops To Complain About Weed Quality (AP)
Lufkin police Sgt. David Casper said Monday that an officer went to the home of 37-year-old Evelyn Hamilton to hear her complaint that the dealer refused to return her money after she objected that the drug was substandard. Casper says she pulled the small amount of marijuana from her bra when the officer asked if she still had it. She was arrested Friday on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Hamilton said Monday she spent $40 on “seeds and residue.” She says she called police when she got no satisfaction from the dealer’s family. Read more »