Russia may have the kind of official corruption that would make a Sicilian blush, a fairly weak grasp on the rule of law, a pair of would-be czars trading its top two political posts and, now, more orphans than it can give away. It also may have a stock exchange worth as much as the big one with the columns down on Broad Street.
The Moscow Exchange is going public, and wants the share-buying public to pay between US$4 billion and US$4.6 billion for it. By contrast, the London Stock Exchange has a market cap of about US$5.3 billion, and the New York Stock Exchange is selling itself—and the stock markets in Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon and Paris, and the super-desirable Liffe futures exchange—for US$8.2 billion.
Of course, buying the Micex may be a bit riskier than buying NYSE Euronext, what with everyone’s favorite former KGB agent already weighing in. Read more »
The House Of Dougan has apparently said Do svidaniya to a handful of comrades. Read more »
Back in the day, as in 2007, Wall Street compensated its employees in a way that made them feel loved. In a way that allowed them to repress the true passions they would have been going after if the price were not oh so right. Now, obviously, not so much. Combine that with suffocating regulation and you’ve got a bunch of financial services hacks who are saying fuck this shit– I refuse to waste another day here while my dream of opening a line of Russian saunas in New Jersey slips away. So far just one guy– a Goldman trader in Moscow– has said that, but presumably the floodgates are about to open. Read more »
Remember Anna Chapman? She was among the ten Russian spies deported last year and since returning to the motherland has been pretty busy. She posed in Maxim in her underwear holding a deadly weapon. She started hosting a TV show called “Secrets of the World.” She adopted a lion cub. She posed in a magazine called Heat and then got in trouble for posting outtakes of her ass on Facebook. She waved off a rocket launch. She modeled in a fashion show (in which carried a gun and stuck it in a male model’s neck). For her next project, Chapman has teamed up with Vladimir Putin to “lure technology investment to Russia.” Apparently tech has always been a passion of Chapman’s (“I’ve always been fascinated with technology,” she told Bloomberg) and now, she says, “I want to make my own input into developing this industry.” For you thinking Chaps will have a hard time being taken seriously, think again. According to Moscow hedge fund manager Roland Nash, she’s “very well known and respected in Russia, by Russians in general and young Russians in particular, so in that sense she’s quite an imaginative solution.” As for the West, Nash concedes, “she’s got to turn around part of her image.” Read more »
She’s part of the former Treasury Secretary’s reading material this month. Read more »
“With Nassim Taleb in Moscow. Dr Black Swan and Dr Doom,” Dr Doom tweets, referring to himself in the third person. Read more »
President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia plans to create a “special sovereign fund” to attract foreign capital as he tries to shift investors’ attention from a deadly terrorist attack on Moscow’s busiest airport this week. “It may make sense now to think about creating a special sovereign fund that comprises state property and money to attract an array of private investments from abroad and within the country,” Medvedev said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. [Bloomberg]
A handbook for the bank’s trainees gives a country-by-country behavior guide. In Russia, it tells employees to be prepared to hold your drink at business engagements and to “never reject an invitation to the sauna.” [AP]
Vitaly Borker was born in Russian and moved to the United States with his family as a small child. After graduating from college, he held a smattering of jobs, none of which he was particularly passionate about. After a stint in law enforcement, he “gravitated to Wall Street” and held down gigs at “a variety of firms,” including Lehman Brothers. But working back office the pay wasn’t great and he decided to supplement his income by running the online component of a friend’s eyeglass store. He got sued a few times for hocking counterfeits but it was no sweat of Borker’s sack– his internet business did just fine and he was able to maintain the site while working on Wall Street “for years” and in fact expanded his online venture to include several destination for peddling his wares, the flagship being DecorMyEyes. Unfortunately his successful side job soon left little time for Lehman Brothers and several months before the firm went under, Borker quit to focus solely on his burgeoning pet project (obviously setting LEH up for a fall, given that he was holding that place up like Atlas).
This weekend Borker’s business was the subject of a Times profile. He says he’s “fantastically profitable,” and the secret to his success? Threatening to put his boot up customers’ asses, which, following their vocal complaints, helps makes his online storefront a popular Google result. Here’s a glimpse into the process (Borker, when interfacing with customers, uses the name Tony Russo):
* When a woman complained about having placed an order only to be told they were out of her brand of choice:
Russo called to say that DecorMyEyes had run out of the Ciba Visions. Pick another brand, he advised a little brusquely. “I told him that I didn’t want another brand,” recalls Ms. Rodriguez, who lives in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. “And I asked for a refund. He got rude, really obnoxious. ‘What’s the big deal? Choose another brand!’ ”
* When she received a pair of frames that were clearly counterfeits, that she was overcharged $125 for, which she told Russo she would be disputing with her credit card company:
Until that moment, Mr. Russo was merely ornery. Now he erupted. “Listen, bitch,” he fumed, according to Ms. Rodriguez. “I know your address. I’m one bridge over” — a reference, it turned out, to the company’s office in Brooklyn. Then, she said, he threatened to find her and commit an act of sexual violence too graphic to describe in a newspaper.
Read more »
FYI, it’s the patriotic thing to do in Mother Russia. [Telegraph]
For whatever reason the Russians are sort of the of the suburban teenager of the ultra-rich age. They go absolutely crazy at the mall when they have a few bucks in their pocket, and melt down into a pile of sobbing Jell-o when the funds dry up. Russia is very much a bellwether of the luxury market with 18 month latency in this way. Their spending excess on last year’s trend gives firms like Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton a perfect opportunity to dump two-season ago hot items that have backed up inventory and charge premium pricing to do so. The risk, of course, is getting stuck when the oligarchs start sucking wind. That would be circa now.
Moscow had 74 billionaires a year ago, more than any other city in the world. Now it has 27, according to Forbes magazine. The 25 richest Russians lost a combined $230 billion during six months last year as the value of their companies plunged along with commodity prices, according to Bloomberg calculations.
As if this were not enough, the degree to which the Muscovite oligarch depends on the acquiescence of the Kremlin in all of his affairs makes the cross attention of Putin an experience that makes being a bailout spending, private jet flying Big Auto executive look tame. After all, Obama, for all his bluster, was never a member of the KGB. (We’re pretty sure on this one).
Sounds like it might be time for Western consultants to hire a pair of AK toting “guides” and head over to draw some consulting fees again. Who’s in?
Party Ends for Russian Rich After $230 Billion Losses [Bloomberg]