…if I were in charge I would probably reorganize the movement around a single, achievable goal: a financial boycott of the six “ too big to fail ” Wall Street firms: Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo. We would encourage people who had deposits in these firms to withdraw them, and put them in smaller, not “too big to fail” banks. We would stigmatize anyone who invested, in any way, in any of these banks. I’d try to organize college students to protest on campuses. Their first goal would be to force the university endowments to divest themselves of shares in these banks…I think we could create a run on a bank. [TDB]
Michael Lewis’s tour of Europe lands him in Germany this week, where he writes an unbelievably raunchy epic and relies on an elaborate metaphor to justify some sightseeing that Tabitha Soren might not otherwise approve of:
The Hamburg red-light district had caught [anthropologist Alan] Dundes’s eye because the locals made such a big deal of mud-wrestling. Naked women fought in a metaphorical ring of filth while the spectators wore plastic caps, a sort of head condom, to avoid being splattered. “Thus,” wrote Dundes, “the audience can remain clean while enjoying dirt!” Germans longed to be near the shit, but not in it. This, as it turns out, was an excellent description of their role in the current financial crisis.”
We are not the only ones to find this metaphor a little strained. In any case, when he’s not looking for shitshows of the literal variety, he’s in town to try to figure out why German state-owned Landesbanks lost so much money on subprime CDOs peddled by American banks:
Hedge Fund Manager/Big Short Character Sues Michael Lewis, Steve Eisman For Making Him Look Like A Guy Investors Might Want To Think Twice AboutBy Bess Levin
Wing Chau, a manager of collateralized debt obligations, according to a complaint filed Feb. 25 in Manhattan federal court, claims the book unfairly casts him as one of the “villains” responsible for the 2008 financial collapse. The book “depicts Mr. Chau as someone who ignored his professional responsibilities, made misrepresentations to investors, charged money for work that was not performed, had no stake in the CDOs he managed, was incompetent or reckless in carrying out his responsibilities, and violated his fiduciary duties by putting the interests of ‘Wall Street bond trading desks’ above those of his investors,” according to the complaint…Steve Eisman is described in the complaint as “one of the principal sources Lewis relied on in writing ‘The Big Short.’” [Bloomberg]
When one is a best-selling author of many popular books and can work at his leisure, he is afforded the time to marinade on things that tick him off. Whereas others must let life’s annoyances roll off their backs rather than spending hours on end working themselves into a lather over, say, the guy who cut them off in the parking lot this morning, the barista who put too much foam in his vanilla bullshit latte cappa thing or the thieving investment bank downtown, this person has the inclination and the free afternoons to think about the stuff that’s pissing him off. Today we find out that a couple of things have been sticking in Michael Lewis’s craw. First, off there’s the leeches at Goldman Sachs. Sayeth Mike:
“The world would be better off without Goldman Sachs, and I don’t think it is just Goldman Sachs the world would better off without. If you waved a wand and wiped out Goldman Sachs, someone would step in and occupy that place. I think the world would be better off without the idea that Goldman Sachs embodies, which is that financial manipulation is a legitimate way to get really rich. If you look at the story of Goldman Sachs in the last six or seven years, you’ll see that they made an awful lot of money getting people to do stuff that never should have been done.”
Bothersome, really bothersome, yes, but not something he’ll have to worry about much longer, as the Oracle predicted back in June that Goldman is doomed and it’s only a matter of time before they shutter that dump. What has really been riling Lewis is a little thing in Greece called the Acropolis and its utter mismanagement. So poorly is it run that Lewis knows of a former businessman-cum-writer who could do a better job with the place if someone thought to ask. Read more »
Michael Lewis Has Clearly Not Heard That In An Unprecedented Move Goldman Sachs Has Been Deigning To Speak To, Buy Sushi Lunches For ClientsBy Bess Levin
If he had, I don’t think he would’ve made the following prediction, or the even insanely ballsier one that some GS employees will leave the firm to start hedge funds.
“This is a prediction that is going to come back and haunt me, but I think that Goldman Sachs is doomed. I don’t think that in its current form it can survive. We could be looking at four to five years, but the proprietary activities will split off, those people will end up in their own hedge fund – that is if new regulation doesn’t forbid it anyway.” The PR problems, Lewis thinks, will just be insurmountable. “Their relationships with customers on every front are poisoned, and they can’t function as an investment consultant if they have this problem of honesty.”
“While debating changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) told his colleagues: “Read this new book, ‘The Big Short.’” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was decrying Republican obstructionism on the floor when he said, “I recommend everyone within the sound of my voice to read the book.” It’s terrific for people who haven’t spent a lot of time on” the subject, Levin said. “My wife is really into it. I read it, marked it up for my staff, underlined it, made copies and asked them to read it.”
The Big Short A Hot Read On Hill [Politico]
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
The problem this time around, according to ML? Was that “most of the dicks were stupid.” Stewart’s two cents: “The entire financial market was a bunch of George Costanazas, telling lies they believed.” (And banging their cleaning ladies on the desk, do not forget that.) Also, note the cat-calling for Einhorny from the audience. Nice to see others finally getting on board.
“To put it in the crudest possible way, these firms have to be smaller and less profitable,” Lewis told Reuters. “If they were regulated properly and the rules of their game were sane, it would be less profitable to be a trader at a big Wall Street firm … It is really a war over money.”
A word of advice to any asshats currently hard at work figuring out how to cause the next financial crisis: AK Barnett-Hart is watching you. In fact, you’re the reason the second year investment bank analyst, who wrote her senior thesis about the market for subprime mortgage-backed CDOs (which Michael Lewis called “more interesting than any piece of Wall Street research on the subject”), got into this line of work. To police you fuckers, and clean this place up. From Deal Journal: Read more »
Michael Lewis: “No Intelligent Person Who’s Sitting On Wall Street Can Think Of Themselves As Anything But Overpaid”By Bess Levin
Of course, we loved bringing you the marijuana defending, tired-of-you-stupid-limited-partners-already, I’m picking up my toys and going home farewell letter of former hedge fund manager Andrew Ladhe. Our referring you to the coverage of said letter by Michael Lewis (really, don’t you think he’s gotten very bittery-sour-grapes-like about markets since Liar’s Poker?) is more a duty-bound kind of obligation. Still, it has its moments.
We fully expect that the likes of Lewis (and market schadenfreuden everywhere) will get quite vocal in the weeks to come. Might as well get used to it now.
This Hedge Fund Manager Tries to Short Himself [Bloomberg]