The Latest

Opening Bell: 07.21.14

Barclays Dark Pool Drew Early Alarms (WSJ)
Trading firms and employees raised concerns about high-speed traders at Barclays PLC’s dark pool months before the New York attorney general alleged in June that the firm lied to clients about the extent of predatory trading activity on the electronic trading venue, according to people familiar with the firms. Some big trading outfits noticed their orders weren’t getting the best treatment on the dark pool, said people familiar with the trading. The firms began to grow concerned that the poor results resulted from high-frequency trading, the people said. In response, at least two firms—RBC Capital Markets and T. Rowe Price Group Inc.—boosted the minimum number of shares they would trade on the dark pool, letting them dodge high-speed traders, who often trade in small chunks of 100 or 200 shares, the people said. Meanwhile, a number of Barclays employees privately expressed concerns to top stock-trading executives that the firm was giving high-frequency traders too much access to its dark pool without fully informing clients, according to people familiar with the complaints. Investment firms worry that high-speed traders can detect their orders in dark pools and trade elsewhere using the information, moving the price against the companies.

Barclays Dark Pool Volume Fell 66% Week After Lawsuit (Bloomberg)
About 66 million U.S. shares were traded in the dark pool in the week of June 30, down 66 percent from about 197 million in the previous week, according to data from the Financial Industry Regulation Authority. The drop follows a 37 percent decline from 312 million in the previous week, data show. Barclays lied to customers and masked the role of high-frequency traders as it sought to boost revenue at one of Wall Street’s largest private trading venues, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a complaint filed June 25. Barclays Chief Executive Officer Antony Jenkins, in a memo to staff, said the lawsuit represents “serious charges that allege a grave failure to live up to our values.”

U.K. Prosecutors Open Foreign-Exchange Rigging Investigation (Bloomberg)
U.K. prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into alleged manipulation of foreign-exchange benchmarks. “The Serious Fraud Office has today opened a criminal investigation into allegations of fraudulent conduct in the foreign exchange market,” the London-based agency said in an e-mailed statement today. Authorities around the world have been investigating whether traders rigged the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market after the Financial Conduct Authority, the British markets regulator, began a review last year. Regulators and prosecutors are scrutinizing allegations that dealers at the world’s biggest banks traded ahead of their clients and colluded to rig the WM/Reuters rate, a benchmark that pension funds and money managers use to determine what they pay for foreign currencies.

Australia Regulator Censures Royal Bank of Scotland (WSJ)
Australia’s securities regulator has censured Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC after the bank found some of its traders likely tried to influence the daily setting of the country’s benchmark interbank lending rate. As a result, an independent compliance expert will review the bank’s record with rules on contributions to interest-rate benchmark settings and will report back to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the regulator said. RBS also agreed to steps including a review of its communications-surveillance systems and giving refresher training to traders.

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West pay $500,000 for baby body double: report (NYDN)
British glossy magazine Grazia claims the couple held “auditions” in Los Angeles at a specialist agency to find a child who is the spitting image of North, according to The Mirror. The magazine also reports that the couple hired a body double nanny. Read more »

Write-Offs: 07.18.14

$$$ Yo, One-Word Messaging App, Is Valued at Up to $10 Million [Dealbook]

$$$ Blackstone, KKR Said to Discuss Settlement in LBO Collusion Case [Bloomberg]

$$$ Portuguese Railroad Company Was Really Into Snowballs [BloombergView/Matt]

$$$ Herbalife: Ackman is ‘Worst of Wall Street’ [NetNet]

$$$ Health Food Store Employee Suspected Of Using Company Check To Pay Hooker [AP] Read more »

Click Here

Because the bank does not want Judge Astrid Nungesser to do that for it. Read more »

Most of you know or have heard of Preet Bharara in the context of his day job as Manhattan U.S. Attorney. In this role, Bharara investigates and litigates cases against, among others, alleged terrorists, gang members, mobsters and white collar criminals. And while most of his predecessors and colleagues in the Southern District have long viewed their positions with the AG as steppingstones for even more powerful jobs, it’s obvious to onlookers that Bharara has other things in mind for his career.

It’s not that he doesn’t have aspirations–oh, on the contrary, he does. It’s just that they’re less U.S. Attorney General (or Supreme Court Judge) and more Comedy Central Roastmaster. After hinting at the dream for some time– peppering his press conferences with one liners, pausing for dramatic effect, etc– the prosecutor made his intentions quite clear on Monday night, at what Fox Business’s Charlie Gasparino reports was a “roast” for a former co-worker heading into private practice. Read more »

This is all just a big misunderstanding. Read more »

If You Should Happen To Run In To Carl Icahn…

At Marea, perhaps. Or in a rough-and-tumble Queens schoolyard. Or at a hedge-fund conference. Or on Twitter. Wherever. A word to the wise: Don’t try to break the ice with a crack about certain insider-trading investigations involving Uncle Carl and certain famed golfers. Read more »

  • 18 Jul 2014 at 1:04 PM

Chris Christie Needs An Economist

If you’re looking to make a career change and you’ve got a head for numbers, great news: the state of New Jersey is hiring. Even more good news: if you can handle getting your head bit off the first (and hopefully, for your sake, last) time you accidentally address Christie as “boss” (and are subsequently treated to a 10 minute lecture about how “There can only be one ‘Boss,‘ and he hails from Asbury Park; you can call me Governor or Sir”), it shouldn’t be too difficult to exceed expectations, as the last guy set the bar extremely low. Read more »

Opening Bell: 07.18.14

Buffett buys new Cadillac (AP)
Buffett sent his daughter, Susie Buffett, to the dealership to make the purchase. Warren Buffett says the saleswoman did a great job, including recommending that Buffett buy the XTS sedan he picked, not the CTS coupe that Barra had recommended.

Lawsky proposes new Bitcoin rules (NYP)
The proposed rules are the first step in companies obtaining a “BitLicense,” which would pave the way for a regulated exchange of the crypto-currency. The DFS started looking into new bitcoin exchanges for New York after the Japanese digital currency exchange Mt. Gox imploded earlier this year, apparently from hackers stealing $460 million in investor funds. The rules include anti-money laundering provisions that would include the identities and addresses of people trading the currency, as well as receipts for trades totaling more than $10,000 per day.

Ackman says Valeant’s bid for Allergan is a ‘happy’ one (NYP)
Ackman said Thursday he is trying to line up 45 percent of shareholders to call a special meeting to replace six directors — although he only needs 25 percent — because of what he called Allergan’s “unbelievably burdensome” requirements.

Morgan Stanley rebuilds in commodities trading (Reuters)
The Wall Street bank plans to hire about a dozen traders, sales staff and other professionals in the United States. It’s building up commodities trading and financing businesses that can profit despite tougher regulations, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A Case That Shows The Limits Of Insider Trading Laws (NYT)
In an unusual move, the judge in the case, Naomi Reice Buchwald, didn’t let most of the case get to the jury. After showing skepticism about the strength of the government’s case almost from the beginning, she dismissed two insider trading counts, leaving only a conspiracy charge for the jury to ponder. But conspiracy to do what? It’s no wonder a jury took less than four hours to find Mr. Rajaratnam innocent…Which raises a question: How might the jury have decided if it was allowed to consider all the evidence? The answer goes far beyond the Rengan Rajaratnam case, and raises some fundamental questions about the state of insider trading laws.

Shark Bites Off More Than It Can Chew, Chokes On Sea Lion (HP)
In a peculiar event that is almost too odd to seem true, a 13-foot great white shark in Australia died after choking on a sea lion. This video of a shark thrashing in shallow waters on Coronation Beach near Geraldton, Western Australia surfaced the day before the same shark washed ashore. “This could explain why the shark was exhibiting such unusual behavior in shallow waters off Coronation Beach. It is possible that the shark was trying to dislodge the blockage,” Dr McAuley, the principal research scientist who investigated the case, said in a Department of Fisheries press release. To make things even more interesting, this shark was also tagged in Southern Australia back in January, proving the incredibly mobile nature of the species. The Department of Fisheries in Western Australia concluded that the sea lion either damaged the shark’s internal organs, or the shark simply became stranded while trying to “get rid of the obstruction.” Read more »