As you may have heard, the Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte this week. As you may have also heard, some people who figuratively work on Wall Street have had their feelings hurt over the last several years by President Obama, who they believe could have chosen his words more carefully when speaking about the industry. Bankers, traders, hedge fund managers, and pissant first-year analysts have emotions too, y’know, and calling them things like “fat cats” really stings, almost as much as the things you don’t say, like “S-U-P-E-R, That’s what Wall Street bankers are” every time someone wins a deal, or just shaking general pom-poms of encouragement in the lobby as people arrive every morning.
So you can imagine that those working in close proximity to the convention were particularly nervous for what brand of emotional torture the administration had in store for them, and came into the week with their guards on high alert. Read more »
Two weeks back, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse perpetrated against young boys, including an alleged incident in which Sandusky raped a 10 year-old in the shower. Since then, even more victims have come forward, and it’s been difficult to imagine how they’re coping, particularly when Sandusky will only admit to “enjoying” young people, with whom he claims he has only ever touched on the leg (though not with sexual intent), hugged, showered and just generally “horsed around.” Beyond the actual victims, which is to say, the people who were touched in highly inappropriate ways by a man 40 and 50 years their senior who was often times naked when doing so, we’ve also heard about the aftermath struggles of others affected (in their minds) by the alleged crimes, such as Joe Paterno, the PSU undergrads for whom getting drunk and watching sports on a Saturday has been ruined!!! and the school store, where merchandising sales have taken a hit.
And yet there is another group of people who, in the last couple weeks, have been overlooked. People who’ve had their entire worlds turned upside down. People for whom we should consider saying a prayer. Naturally, we speak of the legion of Merrill Lynch brokers who graduated from Penn State in the last several decades. How are they holding up? Barely hanging on by a thread here, is how. Read more »
As you may have heard, the Galleon insider trading trial kicks off this week, with Raj Rajaratnam himself expected to take the stand at some point. Like every trial by jury, the process of selecting jurors will prove a formidable task, given the complicated nature of the case, and that the defense needs to make sure the fate of their client will not be left to biased individuals, with certain opinions about Wall Street and Raj in particular. The thing about prejudice, though, is that it doesn’t always present itself in the most direct possible way. Few people will probably offer, for example, that they’re “of the mind that anyone working in the financial services industry is a greedy, corrupt bastard guilty of whatever he or she has been accused of,” but if you took a gander at their reading material and saw highlighted and underlined articles by a certain writer for Rolling Stone you might get an inkling of their point of view. To that end, the questionnaire potential jurors will be asked to fill out for the Galleon trial hit on every possible area where one’s bias could be revealed. Here’s a sampling of the questions:
* Do you like to read books? ______ Yes ______ No If yes, What types of books do you read? ___________________________________
* What TV shows, newscasts, radio shows and internet websites do you enjoy on a regular basis?
* Do you have strong positive or negative views about any of the following individuals. Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI? ____ Yes ____ No Wall Street Executives? ____ Yes ____ No Technology Company Executives ____ Yes ____ No Prosecutors? ____ Yes ____ No Defense Counsel? ____ Yes ____ No If Yes, what are your views? ___________________________________
* Hedge Funds have been reported in the news over the past few years. Do you have any feelings concerning this industry? ____ Yes ____ No If Yes, please describe your feelings: _________________________
* How knowledgeable or familiar do you consider yourself to be about Hedge Funds? Please explain.
* How honest do you think Wall Street Executives are?
1 Not at All Honest
2 Below Average Honesty
3 Average Honesty
4 Above Average Honesty
5 Extremely Honest
Please explain your answer. ________________________
And here are some questions that will be posed in a follow-up session: Read more »
To research his role in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, Shia LaBeouf spent a good deal of time at John Thomas Financial, an Encino branch of Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs. It was there he learned how to stick $20,000 in an online brokerage account and turn it into $450,00-ish in a matter of months, wow the shit out of Lloyd Blankfein in the 47th round of interviews, and insider tips for passing Level I of the CFA. You know what he never did? Ask any of the guys he was shadowing about their feelings. Same goes for Penn Badgely, who spent some time on the Citi trading floor to prep for his role as a junior analyst in Margin Call (where he learned that “young traders sport ‘nice clothes that were not terribly tailored’ and that that the term ‘bucks’ means millions”). That’s because these two whippersnappers only care about the surface. They’re not interested in drilling down to the person underneath that suit and the fifties still stuck to your ass from the weekend. One guy who is? Kevin Spacey. He cares, deeply.
“I am trying to humanize bankers,” said Kevin Spacey, the Academy Award-winning actor, who plays a senior trader in Margin Call. “Everyone talks about facts, figures and debt. I was more interested in what they were feeling.”