Morgan Stanley

  • 29 May 2013 at 5:29 PM

Emma Lasry’s Got Competition

Mr. Gorman sent an e-mail on Wednesday promoting the music career of his daughter, whose band, Madness and the Film, released an EP, four songs on iTunes, over the weekend. “She recorded the music with a British musician over the past six months,” Mr. Gorman wrote in the e-mail. “They co-wrote lyrics, music and play and sing the songs. He is lead vocals and she sings back-up and plays numerous instruments.” In an interview, Mr. Gorman said Caroline, 17, has always had a passion for music and plays piano in her school’s orchestra. When she was 15, Ms. Gorman was playing in bars and had booked studio space in Chelsea. She spent every Friday night for months recording her first CD. “She plays everything,” he said. Last year, while in upstate New York, Ms. Gorman met David Breeze, a British musician, and the two of them joined together to form Madness and the Film. The songs released on iTunes have a melodic, indie pop rock feel to them. [Dealbook, related, related, related]

If you’re a Morgan Stanley shareholder on the fence about whether to give the bank your non-binding vote in favor of its executive-compensation plan this year, and would like a proxy firm to make your non-decision for you, you are out of luck. Read more »

The Fed has some “large U.S. financial services firms” by the balls. Morgan Stanley is not among them. Read more »

  • 16 Apr 2013 at 2:44 PM

Wily 22 Year-Olds Force Morgan Stanley’s Hand

For the last number of years, private equity firms and hedge funds slowly moved up the time at which they recruit that gotta-have-it talent, junior banking analysts, until it got to the point that they were making offers of employment to people who had graduated college and started working on Wall Street but months earlier, and still had a year and half of servitude left at their respective banks. While employers were used to having second years check out vis-à-vis doing any kind of productive work a couple months before moving on, they finally decided enough was enough. Feet were put down, expectations (that people would stop interviewing shortly after their first day on the job) communicated.

Knowing it’s one thing to smile, nod, and then tell Apollo HR that you look forward to seeing them on Monday and another to put your name on a contract promising you’ll do no such thing or risk getting canned, Morgan Stanley sought to get a little extra assurance its worker-bees would fall in line, requiring them last summer to put it in writing or beat it.

And while the fear of god was successfully put into some, the craftier ones were having none of it. Read more »

One might think that being terminated by Goldman Sachs for taking “inappropriately large proprietary futures positions in a firm trading account” and “violating investment-related statutes, regulations, rules or industry standards of conduct” might make it hard to get another job on Wall Street.

Not at all. It might make it hard, however, to get your deferred compensation after you plead guilty to fraud, re: said inappropriately large futures position. Read more »

Every once in a while I almost write “I don’t envy big bank CEOs,” and then I consider my own finances and the mood passes. But it does seem hard, no? The job is basically that you run around all day looking at horrible messes – even in good times, there are some horrible messes somewhere, and what is a CEO for if not to look at them and make decisive noises? – and then you get on earnings calls, or go on CNBC, or sign 10Ks under penalty of perjury, and say “everything is great.” I mean: you can say that some things aren’t great, if it’s really obvious that they’re not. If you lost money, GAAPwise, go ahead and say that; everyone already knows. But for the most part, you are in the business of inspiring enough confidence in people that they continue to fund you, and if you don’t persuade them that, on a forward-looking basis, things will be pretty good, then they won’t be.

Also, when you’re not in the business of convincing people to fund you, you’re in the business of convincing people to buy what you’re selling and sell what you’re buying, which further constrains you from saying “what we’re selling is dogshit.”1

Anyway I found a certain poignancy in Citi’s correspondence with the SEC over Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, which was released on Friday. Citi and Morgan Stanley had a joint venture in MSSB, and MS valued it at around $9bn, and Citi valued it at around $22bn, and at most one of them was right and, while the answer turned out to be “neither,” it was much closer to MS than C. Citi was quite wrong, and since this was eventually resolved by a willing seller (Citi) selling to a willing buyer (MS) at a valuation of $13.5bn, Citi had to admit its wrongness in the form of a $4.7 billion write-down, and the stock did this: Read more »

Financial innovation gets kind of a bad rap, and one of my favorite parts of this job is when I get to celebrate it just for being itself. Sometimes this means breathtaking magic like the derivative on its derivatives that Credit Suisse sold to itself, or elegant executions of classic ideas like the Coke shares that SunTrust sold for regulatory purposes but not for tax purposes. Other times it’s a more prosaic combination of already-existing building blocks to allow people who were comfortably doing something to keep comfortably doing it in the face of regulations designed to make it more uncomfortable.

Yesterday a reader pointed me to a Bond Buyer article that, while perhaps neither all that scandalous nor all that beautiful, is sort of cozy. It’s about a new issue of callable commercial paper issued by a Florida municipal financing commission, and here’s the joke:

JPMorgan came up with the new product as a solution for variable-rate municipal issuers facing impending Basel III regulatory problems. The proposed regulations would require banks to have a certain higher value of highly liquid assets to be available to turn into cash to meet liquidity commitments that could be drawn within 30 days. Maintaining higher liquidity would be expensive for banks, which may try to pass on costs to its issuers, according to an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service. “What we did, starting over a year ago, is ask what we can do to change the product that will still work for all the players, including issuers, investors, and the rating agencies,” Lansing said. “And the ultimate result was this product.” The new product allows banks to continue to support variable-rate products after the regulations are implemented. The paper has a variable length of maturity, but always at least 30 days. Several days before the paper would have 30 days left to its maturity, the issuer calls the paper.

The joke isn’t that funny, though I giggled at the phrase “a solution for variable-rate municipal issuers facing impending Basel III regulatory problems.” Municipal issuers face no Basel III problems: municipalities are not subject to Basel III. Read more »