Gather ’round for story time with Uncle Bill.
Book excerpt: Adam Baldwin’s “Heroes and Villains of Finance” is a fascinating dive into the history of money as an institution, highlighting the fifty most significant figures that, rightly or wrongly, are responsible for the financial landscape we live in today.
Paraphrasing, but only slightly.
…per the instructions enclosed in a letter sent out by CEO Richard Handler and Chairman […]
Bill Gross’s Investment Outlook for May is called “Achoo!” and begins like this: There’s nothing […]
JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. bank by assets, had a “tin ear” when […]
In person, the FT reports, he’s a sweetheart.
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It’s not exactly Hemingway, or even Dan Loeb, but Maurice Taylor, CEO of tire manufacturer Titan, may have achieved a diplomatic incident with his very undiplomatic letter to France’s industry minister.
Last November, hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman penned an “Open Letter To The President Of The United States of America,” in which he detailed the many ways Barack Obama was pissing him off. The Omega Advisors founder accused the President (and his “minions”) of engaging in class warfare, expressed disbelief that he could attack “capitalists who…fill store shelves at Christmas” and still sleep at night, and advised Obama to “eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy,” lest he lose* Cooperman’s vote the next year. While LC says that he received a major outpouring of support for his words (“[he] keeps a bulging manila folder of congratulatory notes in his office”), others were less than pleased at what they saw as a guy who actually has done pretty okay under Obama lashing out because his feelings were hurt on the occasions the president was perceived to have a “tone” in his voice when discussing the mega-wealthy (“If I knew where you lived, I’d put a bomb in your car,” one person wrote Cooperman to say). Similarly, Cooperman’s suggestion, on at least two occasions, that America should be worried about the startling parallels between Obama’s rise to power and that of Adolf Hitler,** was met with mixed reviews, including one by his wife in which she called him a “schmuck.” And while some*** have found it preposterous that Cooperman would paint himself as a victim of Obama, their astonishment speaks to not knowing the whole story, i.e. exactly what this man- no, this monster– did to Leon.
Last July, before he had written the letter, Cooperman was invited to the White House for a reception to honor wealthy philanthropists who had signed Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least fifty per cent of their net worth to charity. At the event, Cooperman handed the President two copies of “Inspired: My Life (So Far) in Poems,” a self-published book written by Courtney Cooperman, his fourteen-year-old granddaughter. Cooperman was surprised that the President didn’t send him a thank-you note or that Malia and Sasha Obama, for whom the books were intended as a gift and to whom Courtney wrote a separate letter, didn’t write to Courtney. (After Cooperman grumbled to a few friends, including Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, Michelle Obama did write. Booker, who was also a recipient of Courtney’s book, promptly wrote her “a very nice note,” Cooperman said.)
Now do you understand? Now do you understand? Even Hitler would have sent SOMETHING.
Super-Rich Irony [New Yorker]
Earlier: Leon Cooperman Doesn’t Like The Tone Of President Obama’s Voice
*Just messing about him ever being in a position to “lose” it, of course.
**Settle down, he wasn’t saying Obama IS Hitler, would would be biologically impossible, he was just saying Obama is the second coming of Hitler, which is something people should be aware of:
“You know, the largest and greatest country in the free world put a forty-seven-year-old guy that never worked a day in his life and made him in charge of the free world,” Cooperman told the New Yorker in May. “Not totally different from taking Adolf Hitler in Germany and making him in charge of Germany because people were economically dissatisfied. Now, Obama’s not Hitler. I don’t even mean to say anything like that. But it is a question that the dissatisfaction of the populace was so great that they were willing to take a chance on an untested individual.”
***Mrs. Cooperman, for example.:
She is still a liberal, a position that puts her in the minority in their social circle. “She can be a socialist because she’s married to a capitalist,” Cooperman says of his wife, who is strongly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. She calls Todd Akin, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry “morons,” and she worries about the underclass. “I care more about the disadvantaged people of America,” she said, comparing her politics with those of her husband.
They’re not there yet, however; first, they’re going to send James Gorman a strongly worded letter and make a decision based on his response. They do sound pretty miffed though, so God help the guy if his answer is anything but “I’ve got my tool kit and I’m on the way over.”
Several dozen Morgan Stanley Smith Barney advisers who manage tens of billions of dollars of client money are considering leaving the firm, saying that widespread technology problems have made it very difficult for them to do their jobs, according to people familiar with the matter. The group has hired a lawyer to argue that they should be able to keep lucrative retention payments even if they quit, and they have also drafted a letter to Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman outlining their concerns, though the letter has not yet been sent, the sources said.
Rebecca Rothstein, one of the firm’s top advisers based in Beverly Hills, spoke to him on the group’s behalf, two sources familiar with the conversation said. Rothstein, who is close to Gorman and not part of the group, told him about the difficulties advisers and their clients are having – from trading delays and problems with foreign currency transactions to inaccurate account statements and bounced checks – and warned the group was planning to quit, one of the sources said…Morgan Stanley spokesman James Wiggins said the firm was aware that brokers have been voicing complaints about the new technology, but did not know anything about this specific group of advisers. “No such letter has been sent to management and no mass exodus has been threatened,” he said. “Management’s door is always open to discuss with any concerns they may have.”
As you may have noticed, Jamie Dimon has had some unwanted attention thrown his way over the last several weeks, on account of one of his employees losing a few billion dollars. Though the JPMorgan CEO has been dealing with public displays of hate previously reserved for Lloyd Blankfein and Goldman Sachs, and will certainly be on the receiving end of a lot more tomorrow when he testifies on Capitol Hill, he has had a few people come to his (and his bank’s) defense. Yesterday Stephen Schwarzman told Bloomberg to lay off JD and JPM, noting that “occasional losses are inevitable” and “publicly excoriating JPMorgan serves no purpose except to reduce people’s confidence in the financial system,” while former Goldman exec Bill Archer said the whale fail makes him just “kind of shrug.” Lee Bollinger, who is President of Columbia and chairman of the Federal Bank of New York’s board of directors told the Journal that Dimon shouldn’t step down from his post as a director, as some have requested, and that those who cite conflicts of interest have a “false understanding of how [the Fed] works.” Some individuals from the Columbia community read Bollinger’s comment and, spoiler alert, are not happy. Enter, a strongly worded letter.
Mr. Lee Bollinger
President of Columbia University
Office of the President
202 Low Library
535 West 116th Street, Mail Code 4309
New York, NY 10027
Dear President Bollinger,
As faculty, alumni and students of Columbia University, we are writing to express our deep disappointment in your recent decision to support JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon’s continued membership on the Board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
As the Chairman of the Board of the New York Fed, your unambiguous duty – as stated by the Guide to Conduct – is to maintain “the integrity, dignity, and reputation of the Federal Reserve System . . . and to avoid actions that might impair the effectiveness of System operations or in any way tend to discredit the System.”
By supporting Mr. Dimon’s tenure you abdicated this basic responsibility. By echoing Mr. Ben Bernanke’s remarks that it is up to Congress to address this problem, you denied your duty to ensure the integrity of the Fed. By stating that Congress has more pressing issues to address than this one, you, in essence, urged inaction by all parties capable of affecting this important change. Surely you understand that a functioning financial system is a pre-requisite of our country’s economic recovery. By characterizing those who wish to see Mr. Dimon resign as “foolish” and in possession of a “false understanding” of how the Fed works, you have added insult – and inaccuracy – to the injury of encouraging this institution to continue in its current form.
It is worth reminding you that JPMorgan Chase is currently under investigation for its recent $3 billion trading loss – a loss Mr. Dimon initially denied and then characterized as a ‘tempest in a teapot.’ It may also bear repeating that Mr. Dimon has long campaigned aggressively against important regulatory reforms designed to prevent excessive risk taking by Too Big To Fail institutions – institutions the Federal Reserve saved with $3 trillion dollars in special lending facilities and which Congress bailed out with $700 billion of taxpayers’ money. Certainly Mr. Dimon has no place as a leader of this institution.
We urge you to reverse your support for Mr. Dimon and call for his immediate resignation. By way of reminder, there is precedent for this kind of action. In April 2011, Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO of General Electric, stepped down from the NY Fed after it was clear that GE Capital would be regulated by the Fed as a ‘systematically important’ financial institution. As one of the largest banks in the world, JP Morgan is similarly – if not more ‘systemically important.’
As an educator, you have a special responsibility to demonstrate moral and intellectual credibility, something you have failed to do in this situation. As the president of a university, you have a responsibility to ensure that students have the best possible opportunities upon graduation. Surely you understand the connection between the unemployment crisis facing young people in America and the 2008 financial collapse. That collapse not only threatened the employment potential of millions of American students, but also risked the fiscal health of the parents and grandparents who co-signed their educational loans. That you would choose to uphold the interests of major financial institutions over students and their families is unimaginable. We certainly hope that the contributions made to Columbia by JPMorgan – sums north of $500,000 – had nothing to do with your decision.
Three years after the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the country is struggling to rebuild its economy. A stable and appropriately governed financial system is a critical pre-requisite of our recovery. As the Chairman of the NY Fed, we urge you to take the obvious step of demanding Mr. Dimon’s resignation.
Current Students, Alumni and Faculty of Columbia University
Graduate Student and Alumnus
Professor of Economics
President of the National Housing Institute Charles H. Revson Fellow, 2004
Asst. Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry
Alumnus and Adjunct Faculty
CC Class of ’09
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Class of 2012
Alumnae -GS of Arch & HP
William D. Hartung
Center for International Policy
Columbia College Class of 1978
Faculty, Medical School
Columbia College, ‘95
Adjunct Faculty and Alumni
Union Theological Seminary
Professor of Clinical Psychiatry,
Alumnus College ’76, GSAS ’78, P&S ’82
School of the Arts Alumni
Professor of Philosophy
Columbia College Class of 1991
Class of 2016
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Columbia College 1980
Alumnus Class of 2012 & SIPA student Class of 2014
BC Alumnus, Class of 2011
Eric J. Schoenberg
Adjunct Associate Professor
Columbia Business School
The Honorable David Segal
Former RI state representative
Founder and Principal, ASO Communications, Columbia College ’99
Current student of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Class of 2013
Denise J. Tartaglia
Co-Founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Columbia University alumni, SOA ’07
Thomas J. Yager
Associate Research Scientist, Mailman School of Public Health
In fact, Dan Loeb and Co. find this “embarrassing episode” painful to watch.
Dear Board of Directors:
Six days have passed since Yahoo! acknowledged the fabrications in Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson and Director Patti Hart’s resumes. Since then, the following has occurred: (i) shareholders have been told that Mr. Thompson’s errors were “inadvertent”, (ii) Mr. Thompson made a classic “I’m sorry you feel that way” non-apology without actually accepting responsibility, (iii) Ms. Hart announced she will not seek re-election to the Board presumably due to her leadership of the botched CEO hiring process but intends to serve out her term, and (iv) the Board has formed a special committee to conduct a “thorough review” into Mr. Thompson’s academic credentials.
It appears very clear to us – and to many corporate governance experts, Yahoo! employees, and fellow Yahoo! shareholders – that Mr. Thompson’s fantasy degree was in no way an “inadvertent error”. The evidence shows he had been using false credentials for years. Mr. Thompson’s “apology” was clearly insufficient and it seems that the only thing he actually regrets is that he has been caught in a lie and publicly exposed. Without any explanation or accountability, Yahoo! has been left to flounder under a discredited leader for an undefined period. So, after six days, we must ask – what is this Board waiting for?
It seems farcical to us that the Board will most likely spend more time deliberating over whether Mr. Thompson should be fired than it did properly vetting whether he should have been hired. The necessary investigation into whether certain senior executives and Board Members knew of Mr. Thompson’s deceptions before hiring him should not delay decisive action over his ethical breaches.
Third Point has over $1 billion invested in Yahoo! and we take no joy in witnessing this carnage. This Board’s unchecked value destruction must stop once and for all. Therefore, we once again call upon the Board to immediately (i) place Third Point’s entire slate on the Board replacing Mr. Thompson and Ms. Hart, (ii) appoint an interim CEO—we would suggest CFO Tim Morse or Head of Global Media Ross Levinsohn (assuming neither had any knowledge of Mr. Thompson’s fabrications) and (iii) allow Third Point nominee Michael Wolf to Chair the Search Committee for a new permanent CEO (Mr. Wolf will waive the $15,000 fee that Ms. Hart received for her work as Head of the Search Committee last year, which we expect she will promptly disgorge).
This is the only way for Yahoo! to move past this embarrassing episode.
Daniel S. Loeb
Chief Executive Officer
Third Point LLC
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