Ed. note: This is a new weekly column by Elie Mystal, Managing Editor of Above the Law Redline, wrapping up the week that was in law and finance. Elie is not a practicing attorney, and anything he says that you listen to can and will be used against you.
Issue #1: The $4.3 billion chat room.
The big news this week is that six firms will pay $4.3 billion to a suite of international regulators in the first set of punishments from rigging the foreign exchange market. Of course, it’s not at all clear that what Forex fixers did was that big of a deal. The Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K. says that “[t]he traders put their own interest ahead of their customers, they manipulated the market — or attempted to manipulate the market — and abused the trust of the public.” That’s lawyer-speak for “that’s not fair.” The fines amount to a $4.3 billion “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty.
At a gathering on Monday night at 740 Park Avenue in Manhattan for Diana Taylor, the girlfriend of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, some of New York’s wealthiest considered a future without the billionaire in charge. There was considerable alarm about Bill de Blasio’s lead in the polls, along with his plan to raise taxes on New York’s upper echelon. “I fear for New York City if Mr. de Blasio gets elected,” said Muffie Potter Aston. “He just wants to tax everyone to smithereens. You have to be fair to everyone. You have programs that support all of the people of New York. But if you continue to tax what you see as the upper-income brackets, it’s still only going to be providing a small percentage of additional income.” [...] “I would love to support a fourth term for Mike Bloomberg. So if we can float that, you can say Muffie Potter Aston wants a fourth term for Michael Bloomberg,” she said. Her concerns about de Blasio were shared by her cohort. “I’ve never understood why New Yorkers vote against their own interests,” said Jacqueline Weld Drake. “New York is a city of financial entrepreneurs, of genius stock traders and bankers. It would be a smart idea to keep it that way. It’s not a city that’s going to benefit from high taxes because people who have substantial incomes have a choice. They have a choice of venues. New Jersey beckons. Florida beckons. All kinds of other states who do better at job creation. We are really biting the hand that feeds us. No question about it.” [WWD via Dealbook]
As you may have heard, things are not going so well for New York City* of late. Lower Manhattan has been without power for days. A hundred or so houses that once stood in Queens are now rubble. Staten Island has been destroyed. Those living uptown and in other areas that emerged relatively unscathed are dealing with survivor’s guilt. In spite of all that, Mayor Bloomberg has declared that the Marathon, scheduled for this Sunday, will go on, a decision that has been met with major outrage by people who believe the considerable resources that go toward putting on the race should be put to more critical use elsewhere, that the city does not need the strain of putting up an additional 40,000 people, that the supposed economic benefit would be a drop in the bucket of what NYC needs, that the generators sitting in Central Park right now could be helping those sitting in darkness, and that considering dead bodies are still being pulled of the water, it’s generally “too soon.” One guy who’d beg to differ? Ed Koch. Twenty-five years out of his mayorship, he still gets these people and while the media would have you believe holding the marathon has caused an enormously heated debate, he’s here to tell you that’s bull. New Yorkers want this and if Koch were still King? He’d be throwing a parade come Sunday, with A-Rod as Grand Marshal. Read more »
The City of London Corporation, which oversees the U.K.’s main financial district, issued eviction notices to anti-capitalist protesters camped outside St. Paul’s Cathedral. The City authorities served a legal notice demanding the protesters move their tents and equipment away from the public highway within 24 hours, John Park, a corporation spokesman, said in an e-mail today. The move followed a decision yesterday to clear demonstrators from the area, he said. “We are getting reports about vulnerable people, cases of late-night drinking and other worrying trends, so it’s time to act,” the corporation’s policy chairman, Stuart Fraser, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, “From now on, we will have to have any talks in parallel with court action — not instead.” If protesters do not comply with the eviction order, proceedings will be issued in the High Court, he said. [Bloomberg]