The Latest

Opening Bell: 09.25.14

Goldman Sachs-Led Group Near Deal to Buy Messaging Startup Perzo (WSJ)
Wall Street firms led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are close to a deal to create an instant-messaging service to rival that of Bloomberg LP. A buyout of messaging startup Perzo Inc. could be announced as soon as next week, according to people familiar with the matter. While it could be months before the firms have a product ready for trading desks, the project is gaining momentum, the people say. The number of banks and money managers working with Goldman on the purchase has swelled to 14 in recent weeks, as Wall Street’s search for an alternative to the data and media giant’s chat services turns rivals into allies. Banks and money managers have long relied on Bloomberg terminals to keep their employees up to speed on market moves and to help them communicate with one another electronically. But increasingly they have griped about the $20,000-a-year price tag that Bloomberg charges for each terminal, and the data company’s refusal to sell many services on an a la carte basis.

JPMorgan tops investment bank league table in first half (Reuters)
JPMorgan was the top performing investment bank in the first half of the year, making $11.5 billion in revenue and ranking first for both its fixed income and deals advisory businesses, data showed on Thursday. The U.S. bank ranked ahead of Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, who shared second place, according to industry analytics firm Coalition. They were followed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citi, then Morgan Stanley in sixth, Credit Suisse seventh, Barclays eighth, UBS ninth and then BNP Paribas.

Lucarelli pleads guilty to insider trading (NYP, earlier re: attire)
Lucarelli, the cocaine-addled former Wall Street executive, pleaded guilty Wednesday to using inside information to pocket nearly $1 million in fraudulent profits. The former investor-relations honcho, on his 52nd birthday, admitted using advance knowledge of clients’ upcoming quarterly results to profitably trade in those stocks. Lucarelli made more than the usual ripple of news caused by common white-collar crooks because after his initial appearance in Manhattan federal court in August, he was seen on video running away from reporters in his sweatpants and a tanktop. He must have been late for a very important meeting that afternoon, because he ran right out of his flip-flops and continued east down Pearl Street barefoot — barely missing a beat.

Griesa to decide whether Argentina’s in contempt of court (NYP)
Federal judge Thomas Griesa has agreed to hold a hearing Friday to decide whether to find the country in contempt for passing a law to allow bondholders to swap their bonds into local Argentine law bonds to avoid paying a small group of so-called holdout creditors, including Singer, some $1.6 billion. The hearing was requested by the holdout group, which has proposed sanctions of $50,000 a day and attorney’s fees, which at this point probably are in the tens of millions of dollars. Most Argentine bondholders did not get the $539 million in interest payments due in June because Argentina refused to follow the court’s order that the country pay the holdouts at the same time they paid the others. The case stems from Argentina’s debt default in 2001. After the default, 93 percent of the bondholders agreed to exchange their debt for bonds with a 70 percent haircut, while a few hedge funds held out for the full 100 percent. On Friday Argentina will have to show why it should not be held in contempt for violating the US federal court orders.

Teacher Resigns After Allegedly Talking Of Robots Killing Misbehaving Students (AP)
U-T San Diego reported Tuesday that Tuyet-Mai Thi Vo was allowed to resign last year and receive a $92,000 settlement instead of being fired. Oceanside Unified School District officials investigated complaints that Vo said in 2012 that if robots were teachers, she would program them to shoot students when they misbehaved. The district report says the 48-year-old told her class she would program robots to kill all of the students. The teacher maintains the allegations are untrue, and she has a positive recommendation letter from then-Superintendent Larry Perondi to vouch for her ongoing fitness for the classroom. Read more »

Write-Offs: 09.24.14

$$$ Hedge Funds Are Still Finding Love, Just Not at Calpers [Dealbook]

$$$ Yellen Warning on Unsettled Rate Timetable Ignored by Investors [Bloomberg]

$$$ The polar bear who took on Wall Street [WaPo]

$$$ In a recent study, 61 participants from the Northeastern U.S. were asked to choose between monetary options that differed in the level of risk. Questions included: “Would you prefer a 50 percent chance of receiving $5 or would you rather take a 13 percent chance of winning $50?” and “Would you prefer $10 for sure or a 50 percent chance of receiving $50?” Researchers found that individuals with more gray matter in a specific part of their brains tend to tolerate more financial risks, says Agnieszka Tymula, an economist at the University of Sydney and co-author of the findings. [BusinessWeek]

$$$ No, iOS 8 Does Not Allow You To Charge Your Phone In The Microwave [Consumerist] Read more »

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Squatters’ Real-Estate Speculation Fighters’ Rights!

Last year, Tony James argued that private-equity firms should fight their bad reputations with a rebranding effort. But “clarity equity” just never took off, because, you know, it was really stupid.

Now, James’ firm may have another rebranding crisis on their hands after buying up 40,000 foreclosed properties in Barcelona. Because Italian ecological economics professors who aren’t paying for the six-bedroom, two-swimming pool houses to protest Spanish banks’ roles in the country’s economic crisis (also: to live in six-bedroom, two-swimming pool houses in Barcelona gratis) aren’t just going to stop doing so because Tony James says they can’t anymore because these nice people who will pay rent would like to. Read more »

MTV’s “Jersey Shore” star Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino and his brother were indicted Wednesday on charges of filing false tax returns involving $8.9 million income. Michael was charged with two counts and his brother Marc with three counts of filing false tax returns for 2010 through 2012, according to the Department of Justice. Michael Sorrentino was also accused of failing to file a tax return for 2011. “The brothers allegedly also claimed costly clothes and cars as business expenses and funneled company money into personal accounts,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. “The law is absolutely clear: Telling the truth to the IRS is not optional.” [CNBC]

  • 24 Sep 2014 at 2:09 PM

Any Guesses? (UPDATE)

[via @cgasparino]

The situation is fluid. We’ll keep you posted.

Update: It involved sleeping in a pod on the sidewalk and taking a fairly gruff tone with the inventor of said pod. For future reference, Gasparino is not impressed with fancy looking sleeping devices. All this man of simple tastes requires is a place where he can take a three hour nap and rejuve for the gym. Read more »

Earlier today, it was reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission has been “investigating whether bond fund manager Pimco inflated the returns of its Total Return Exchange-Traded Fund run by founder Bill Gross.” The probe is said to have sped up in recent weeks but has been going on for “at least a year.” Which means that it was happening when Mohamed El-Erian announced he was leaving the firm. Which means that it’s possible not all but some of Bill Gross’s behavior surrounding El-Erian’s departure could be attributed to stress related to the look-see by the SEC, a theory we decided to explore further. Our findings:

* Enforcing total silence on the trading floor with the expectation that Pimco employees will neither speak to, look at, or breathe in his general direction: Gross has long been known to run the trading floor at Pimco with a “Before you even think to open your mouth, shut the fuck up” policy. This was not a new development. Survey says: can’t be blamed on the investigation. Read more »

  • 24 Sep 2014 at 11:55 AM

The Hustler Club Is Going Public

Technically, it’s Larry Flynt’s entire empire (magazines, websites, a TV network, etc) but the thing to focus on here is that when you step into the Hustler Club, whose Greek Temple-inspired facade can be viewed from the West Side Highway, you’ll be stepping into an investment opportunity. Read more »

  • 24 Sep 2014 at 11:25 AM

Good News Keeps Rolling In For The British

First, they got to keep their country intact. Now, their IPO market is heating up. Will the good times ever stop?* Read more »