Jefferies

The Journal had an article this morning about how cash equities traders are getting used to having computers as coworkers but I say unto you: can a computer do this?1

52. On March 31, 2010, Customer A, an investment adviser to a private fund, asked Jefferies to find buyers for several MBS, including Lehman XS Trust Series 2007-15N 2A1 (LXS 2007-15N 2A1) and Harborview Mortgage Loan Trust Mortgage Loan Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-10 2A1A (HVMLT 2006-10 2A1A). [Jefferies trader Jesse] Litvak approached a representative at AllianceBernstein about buying the MBS.

53. Litvak told the AllianceBernstein representative that the seller had offered to sell the HVMLT MBS at 58-00 and the LXS MBS at 58-8:

Litvak:

he will sell to me 20mm orig of hvmlt 0610 @ 58-00 but he is being harder to knock back on the lxs bonds … said that he thinks that one is much cheaper yada yada yada … he told me he would sell them to me at 58-8 (30mm orig) … I would be fine working skinnier on these 2 … but think you are getting good levels on these …

Representative:

is he paying u or am I?

Litvak:

all the levels I put in this room are levels he wants to sell me … I will work for whatever you want on these …. so to recap levels he is offering to me:
hvmlt 06-10 2a1a (20mm orig) @ 58-00
lxs 40mm orig at 58-8…

Bot em

Representative:

Can u wash the hvmlt and [add] 5 ticks to lxs?…

Litvak:

thats fine.

54. Litvak misrepresented to AllianceBernstein the prices at which Jefferies had acquired the MBS for re-sale. Litvak bought the HVMLT MBS at 57-16 (not the “58-00” he told Alliance Bernstein) and he acquired the LXS MBS at 56-16 (not “58-8” he represented).

55. Litvak also misrepresented the compensation that Jefferies would receive for these trades. AllianceBernstein purchased the $20 million HVMLT MBS at 58 and $40 million of the LXS MBS at 58-13. As a result, on the HVMLT trade, Litvak made 16 ticks for Jefferies; he did not work for free (or “wash” the trade) as he had agreed. And, on the LXS MBS, Litvak made 61 ticks for Jefferies; he did not work for “5 ticks” as agreed.

56. As a result of his misconduct, Litvak made over $600,000 more for Jefferies on the LXS trade and over $50,000 more on the HVMLT trade.

That’s from the SEC’s complaint against former Jefferies trader Jesse Litvak, who apparently made a habit of this sort of thing. He would (allegedly!) tell a potential buyer (seller) of RMBS bonds that he had a seller (buyer), but he would inflate (deflate) the price that he was supposedly getting from the other side in order to inflate his spread. This worked 25 times – that the Feds caught – and allegedly made Jefferies $2.7 million in deceptive profits. This is particularly lovable: Read more »

Back in the day, as in pre-crisis, bonus season on Wall Street was a happy time. Sure, you still had your miserable pricks who would bitch and moan about the fact that they hadn’t gotten as much as the guy who sat next to them, even they the guy who sat next to them was a “non-contributing zero who wouldn’t recognize alpha if it bit him in the ass,” but prior to to fall 2008, anyone who was unhappy about his or her bonus was a) quibbling over receiving a huge sum of money instead of an imperial fuck-ton of money and b) in a position to actually make good on a threat to jump ship, since firms were hiring. Now, with a few exceptions, bonus season makes people feel sad. Angry. Powerless. Frustrated. Confused. Like the world is out to get them. Not only has the total amount of one’s bonus come down, but many companies have decreased the cash portion, while increasing the deferral period on stock to, in some cases, almost half a decade. Then you have Jefferies. Last year it let employees decide between an all stock bonus or an all cash bonus with 25% lopped off.  This year the investment bank-cum-butcher shop isn’t even forcing anyone to choose, instead dumping a bag of cash on people’s desk and reminding everyone who loves ‘em. Read more »

Rumors began to circulate late last year that Jefferies could be acquired by a large bank, something that would surely result in layoffs. “When banks buy other banks, people lose their jobs,” said Richard Lipstein, managing director at executive search firm Gilbert Tweed Associates. “If you look at a sale of an investment bank, this is as close to perfect as it gets.” Leucadia, often compared to Berkshire Hathaway for its diverse set of holdings, already owns a 28% stake in Jefferies, meaning it intimately knows the firm and its culture, and believes in its direction, Lipstein said…As for layoffs, “there likely won’t be any,” said one headhunter who works with Jefferies and requested anonymity. “Now they’ll have a stronger balance sheet, and the ability to pick up slack where other firms have left off,” said the recruiter. [eF, earlier]

  • 01 Aug 2012 at 4:59 PM

Layoffs Watch ’12: Jefferies

Cuts are said to have down at the best paid bank on Wall Street. Read more »

Jefferies set aside $870 million in the first six months of its fiscal year, enough to pay its 3,809 employees an average of $228,407. Goldman Sachs set aside $225,789 for each of its 32,300 workers. Average pay for the 26,553 people in JPMorgan’s investment bank was $184,989, or at least 18 percent less than Jefferies’s and Goldman Sachs’s reported figures. It was 10 percent less than both in fiscal 2011…Goldman Sachs, run by Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, 57, includes consultants and temporary staff when reporting headcount. Jefferies, which has been luring talent from larger rivals to expand in the wake of 2008’s credit crisis, tallies only full-time workers in its disclosures. Jefferies’s reported headcount would expand by 10 percent to 15 percent if the firm included temporary workers, said a person with direct knowledge of the figures who requested anonymity because the information isn’t public. While that would place the firm’s average pay per employee below Goldman Sachs’s, it still exceeds JPMorgan’s and Morgan Stanley’s.  [Bloomberg]

  • 25 Jul 2012 at 12:45 PM

How Can Wall Street Feel Alive Again?

As some of you may recall, there was a time not too long ago when you could work on Wall Street and be compensated in a way that made you feel special. Appreciated. Loved. Eight, nine, ten-figures of love. Now, obviously, not so much. But that is not what’s eating the industry’s most fragile spirits of late. They are fine taking pay cuts. They could care less about the money. What they’re not fine with is having the rush, the intensity, the adrenaline-pumping fear that comes with, say, putting on a trade in which maybe the firm will make $1 billion or maybe it’ll lose $10 billion, WHO KNOWS, IT’S ALL RELATIVE, I CAN’T FEEL MY LEGS, THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT SO EXCITING taken away from them. Take Sean George. He used to spend his days destroying company property and now, thanks to financial regulation, has had to get his kicks elsewhere.

Sean George kneeled in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. He wasn’t praying. A gash below his right brow bled into his eye and down his nose before a knee to his groin sent him to the floor. George, 39, head of credit-derivatives trading at Jefferies, was making his Muay Thai debut at the church June 22 in a sport that allows kicking, elbowing and kneeing. His eye was swelling shut by the time he lost in a split decision. It was the happiest he’s been all year, he said.

“Right now at work I’m making less risk decisions — and I enjoy taking risks,” George, who headed investment-grade credit-default-swap trading at Deutsche Bank AG before he joined Jefferies last year, said in an interview. “If you’re in it for the game and the fight, the game’s over and the fight’s over.” Risk is what drew George and the colleagues he respects to Wall Street, he said. He could bring in millions of dollars in a single month at his peak, and trading was so intense that during one credit-default-swap deal he smashed a phone against his desk, sending part of it three rows away, “one of the records for the best break,” he said.

Ethan Garber’s lost that tingly feeling in his plums. Read more »

What is the best thing about these Jefferies bonuses? For me it’s this:

For 2011, we offered our employees the option to receive the stock portion of their year-end compensation in the form of either shares or cash, with the cash amount being equal to 75% of the grant-date amount of the stock that an employee would otherwise receive. The election resulted in a decrease to share-based compensation expense of approximately $23.3 million, as certain employees elected to receive reduced cash awards lieu of the full grant-date amount of the shares. This offset increased cash compensation expense by approximately $17.5 million. The net effect of this election on total compensation and benefits expense was a reduction of approximately $5.8 million. While these cash awards were fully expensed in 2011, they will legally vest in future periods.

When I first skimmed the headline I thought, okay, paying a 25% discount for liquidity makes sense. I, anyway, would be a lot wealthier had I gotten … really almost any percentage of my stock-based comp in cash rather than vaporizing most of it and leaving a small stub subject to a nondisparagement agreement when I left (I love you guys!), but that is neither here nor there. Because that’s not actually what the Jeffererers got. The people taking the “cash” got no more liquidity or vestedness or, um, cash, than the people taking the shares. They got … at a first approximation, they got an illiquid JEF bond. If they’re around, and Jefferies is around, and the cash is around, in three years or whenever this stuff vests, then they get a fixed amount of money. If not, not.

So the only thing that the Jeffers got for giving up 25% of their stock-based comp was … avoiding the risk that Jefferies stock would decline by more than 25%. Here’s a silly coincidence: Read more »