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A former UBS AG banker gave a primer on the workings of Swiss bank secrecy to a Florida jury hearing the tax-conspiracy trial of Raoul Weil, who once ran the bank’s global wealth-management business. Hansruedi Schumacher told Fort Lauderdale jurors today that he oversaw UBS accounts for about 15,000 U.S. clients in 1999, and most were structured to cheat the Internal Revenue Service. Clients shunned calls or account statements from their Swiss bankers, preferring personal visits, usually in hotels, he said. Bankers often changed hotels to avoid suspicion from the staff. [Bloomberg]

Any report that says the fetid swamp that serves as capital of this country is a more expensive place to live than the greatest city on earth is suspect to begin with. It becomes even more highly so when it suggests that Baltimore is pricier than Boston and Detroit than Miami. But the final nail in the coffin is certainly the news that said report is taking into account $100,000 A-frames in the Poconos for purposes of comparison.

Still, we need more, because if we’re paying $5K a month for a two-ish bedroom, this had better be the most expensive city in the country. And it is, except by one measure, under which Honolulu is the most expensive, which we can live with a damned sight better than D.C., which, by the way, is cheaper than Queens. Read more »

Nice try attempting to pay employees bonuses while calling them “role-based allowances,” “role-based payments,” “a little something extra for your trouble,” etc, but the European Banking Authority is on to you. Read more »

Remember Tim Sykes? Starred in the inaugural, pre-crisis season of Wall Street Warriors, where his claim to fame was that he’d turned $12,415 in Bar Mitzvah money into “a pre-tax sum of $1.65 million”? Was named to the now defunct Trader Monthly‘s 30 Under 30 list, and subsequently disinvited to one of their party, a turn of events he did not take well? After he closed his fund– Cilantro Partners–, claiming the SEC had “fucked” him, Sykes continued to send out daily investment columns/penny stock advice/I will make you rich/what have you emails, but last night he made his return to the small screen with an appearance on Bravo’s Below Deck and thank god he did. Highlights from the episode include:

  • In addition to his 19 year-old lady friend, bringing a group of “stock trading students” on the trip with him, who all wear “Timothy Sykes” tee-shirts and tell the crew “he turned his Bar Mitzvah money into $3 million” and “he moved out of the trading world into the teaching world”
  • Refers to the crew as his “slaves”
  • Forces the crew to gather ’round while he gives them “stock lessons,” says things like “There are people out there who promise to get people rich…I back it the fuck up. I’m the fucking American Dream. That’s why I have this [takes off American flag he's been wearing as a scarf]…any questions?”
  • Takes out a stack of money and says to the captain, “Let’s talk tip. I’ve got a big wad of cash here. I planned to give you $22,000 but there were some things wrong. So out of the 22, we’re going to give you 17,” like he’s Dick from 3rd Rock From The Sun.

Read more »

Some might say that a bank shouldn’t suggest that some of its regulators would be better out on the street than in a comfy office nit-picking what some other regulator has already nit-picked. Indeed, Citi Chairman Michael O’Neill said so himself. But he just can’t help it, so he’s going to come out and say it: When his bank inevitably does something wrong again, he’d really prefer to take only one irate phone call, rather than three. Read more »

Carl Icahn, his lawyers assure the bankruptcy judge, really will pour $100 million into a casino that’s losing $8 million a month. But only if he gets his way, and that way is $175 million in tax breaks and other state aid and, oh yea, the bankruptcy judge ripping up the casino’s contract with its union. And he’ll do it even if the now-contractless union goes on strike, because, really, can the Trump Taj Mahal really be a worse business without them than with them? Read more »

  • 15 Oct 2014 at 1:22 PM

Square Footage Watch ’14: Bill Gross

Gross is reportedly losing office space faster than assets but the good news is that if he’s ever feeling cramped, he can take a quick walk over to his old digs and stretch his shit out, assuming his old Pimco ID still works, which is admittedly a big if. Read more »

Opening Bell: 10.15.14

BofA Posts Profit on Trading After Mortgage Settlement (Bloomberg)
Net income was $168 million, down from $2.5 billion a year earlier, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said today in a statement. Adjusted earnings per share, which exclude an accounting gain, were 40 cents, beating the 32-cent average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan, 55, who was named chairman this month, has booked more than $70 billion in costs tied to his predecessor’s takeovers of Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. He’s said that the firm’s underlying earnings power would become apparent once the litigation costs subsided.

BlackRock Results Top Expectations (WSJ)
Analysts are closely watching the results of BlackRock to see how much the Sept. 26 departure of investor Bill Gross from Pacific Investment Management Co. has helped the world’s largest asset manager. BlackRock has been one of the beneficiaries of money flowing out of Pimco, and it said it saw $11.1 billion of investor inflows into its fixed-income division during the quarter, the most of any of its product segments.

Apple, Facebook to Pay for Female Workers to Freeze Eggs (Bloomberg)
Facebook started providing the benefit, which applies to employees and their spouses or domestic partners, in January. The Menlo Park, California-based social network offers full coverage, or as much as $20,000 in expenses, related to the procedure, which could include surrogacy or court fees. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said it will start offering similar coverage next year. In a statement, Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said the iPhone maker wants to “empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.” The decisions come amid a debate about the best ways to recruit and retain women in the technology industry, where women are underrepresented as a percentage of the total workforce. Apple and Facebook are among the first companies to offer an option to freeze eggs.

Where Do the World’s Wealthiest People Live? (RTE)
After the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Germany added more millionaires than any other countries last year. Of course, the U.S. has a lot of wealthy people because it’s a big country. But the analysis suggests that the U.S. is punching above its weight, even after accounting for population. Total wealth per adult increased by $340,340 in North America, or an increase of 10.2% from the prior year. Total wealth per adult grew by nearly $146,000 in Europe, an increase of 10.4%. By contrast, wealth per adult grew just 2.3% in China and it fell 1.9% in Latin America and 3.1% in India.

Fed Is Silent on Doomsday Book, a Blueprint for Fighting Crises (NYT)
The Doomsday Book, as it happens, is not a book. It is a collection of documents maintained by the New York Fed’s legal department. The contents include “an extensive legal history of Federal Reserve lending activities,” and memos on subjects that deal with the Fed’s authority to make loans to municipalities and restructure debts. There is no comparable collection in Washington. The New York Fed is the central bank’s firefighting department. The New York Fed keeps three full sets, plus an electronic version, and it circulates an index. These facts are on the first page of the index, which the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, David Boies, read aloud in the courtroom last week. Timothy F. Geithner, who led the New York Fed during the early stages of the financial crisis before becoming Treasury secretary, testified that he kept in his office an abridged version, in a binder about two inches thick, containing the index and a selection of memos. He said he had never seen the full work. Mr. Geithner in his testimony also played down the importance of the Doomsday Book, saying that he had consulted it infrequently during the crisis because the Fed was quickly forced to take measures beyond anything it had done before.

Prosecutor behind ‘crack hoes’ Facebook post cleared (MN13)
An investigation has cleared a prosecutor for Orange and Osceola County of any wrongdoing after he posted a controversial message on Facebook mentioning “crack hoes” on Mother’s Day. Assistant State Attorney Ken Lewis was demoted in May during an internal investigation to see if his comments or political views may have affected cases he worked on for the state of Florida. In an official letter obtained by News 13, Chief Assistant State Attorney Linda Drane Burdick told State Attorney Jeff Ashton she found no evidence that Lewis showed any bias related to his Facebook post in handling any cases assigned to him…Lewis later apologized to the public for his comments, admitting he used a “poor choice of words,” but adding his message was the same. Lewis said he didn’t think anyone but his Facebook friends would see the comment, but the post was published as public instead of Facebook’s optional “friends only” setting for status updates, photos, links and other information. Read more »