Michael Lewis Knows How To Fix Wall Street

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"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."

Earlier: Michael Lewis: “No Intelligent Person Who’s Sitting On Wall Street Can Think Of Themselves As Anything But Overpaid”

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How Can Wall Street Feel Alive Again?

As some of you may recall, there was a time not too long ago when you could work on Wall Street and be compensated in a way that made you feel special. Appreciated. Loved. Eight, nine, ten-figures of love. Now, obviously, not so much. But that is not what's eating the industry's most fragile spirits of late. They are fine taking pay cuts. They could care less about the money. What they're not fine with is having the rush, the intensity, the adrenaline-pumping fear that comes with, say, putting on a trade in which maybe the firm will make $1 billion or maybe it'll lose $10 billion, WHO KNOWS, IT'S ALL RELATIVE, I CAN'T FEEL MY LEGS, THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO EXCITING taken away from them. Take Sean George. He used to spend his days destroying company property and now, thanks to financial regulation, has had to get his kicks elsewhere. Sean George kneeled in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. He wasn’t praying. A gash below his right brow bled into his eye and down his nose before a knee to his groin sent him to the floor. George, 39, head of credit-derivatives trading at Jefferies, was making his Muay Thai debut at the church June 22 in a sport that allows kicking, elbowing and kneeing. His eye was swelling shut by the time he lost in a split decision. It was the happiest he’s been all year, he said. “Right now at work I’m making less risk decisions -- and I enjoy taking risks,” George, who headed investment-grade credit-default-swap trading at Deutsche Bank AG before he joined Jefferies last year, said in an interview. “If you’re in it for the game and the fight, the game’s over and the fight’s over.” Risk is what drew George and the colleagues he respects to Wall Street, he said. He could bring in millions of dollars in a single month at his peak, and trading was so intense that during one credit-default-swap deal he smashed a phone against his desk, sending part of it three rows away, “one of the records for the best break,” he said. Ethan Garber's lost that tingly feeling in his plums. “There’s no sexiness, there’s no fun, there’s no intellectual intrigue, either,” said Ethan Garber, who ran proprietary credit-arbitrage portfolios for Credit Suisse Group AG and Bear Stearns Cos. “A lot of my friends who actually lingered for the last four years are all now getting fired anyway,” said Garber, 45, currently CEO of IdleAir, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based firm that provides electricity at truck stops. “The air is taken out.” Robert McTamaney has been reduced to doing his best impression of a whiskey-swilling, cigar-chomping newspaper man from the 1940's, who we assume addressed Bloomberg's Max Abelson as "toots" here. “The socks are higher, the skirts are longer,” said McTamaney, who helped run Goldman Sachs’s equities- trading business in Asia. “It’s like styles: They change, and you’ve got to change with it or be left behind.” Former King Street Capital and Bank of America trader Sam Polk isn't gonna lie, the worst part of Wall Street 2.0 is not being able to feel like a god by dropping $10,000 for bottle service on Wednesday nights, and sometimes even Thursdays. “You could be a 20-something trader three years out of school, able to go to any restaurant or club or ballgame on any night that you wanted, and it was totally paid for,” he said. “It was a tremendous feeling of power.” Michael Meyer is dying a slow, painful death. “The light at the end of the tunnel is dim,” said Meyer, now co-head of sales and trading at New York investment bank Seaport Group. Clearly, it's not pretty. But here at Dealbreaker we're about offering solutions, not whining about problems. How can these guys and girls replicate the feelings they once got by taking on risk on the job, if, unlike Sean George, getting kicked in the balls is not their thing? Drinking the carton of milk in the break room that's been sitting out for two days, telling the boss's wife it looks like she's gained a couple pounds, having unprotected sex with a junkie, shouting "You go girl!" at yourself in spin class after being kindly told to "Shut the fuck up" or else, and leaving dirty dishes in the sink all seem like good jumping off points but we can do better. These people need our help. Bloodied Trader Pines For Risk As Wall Street Retreats [Bloomberg]

Bloomberg: How Wall Street's Stomachs Fared During The Hurricane

...when Falcone and five LightSquared colleagues met over a meal of white-truffle pasta and Barolo at a Washington restaurant in January, they failed to come up with anything they could have done differently, according to a person who was there who asked not to be identified because the meeting was private.-- Falcone Waits For Icahn Doubling Down On Network When JPMorgan, which earned the most of any of the six banks over the four quarters, decided to thank employees for their performance this year, it sent 161,680 individually wrapped buttercream-frosted, chocolate chip, oatmeal-raisin and sugar cookies to retail branches and call centers in the U.S., U.K., Philippines and India.-- No Joy On Wall Street As Biggest Banks Earn $63 Billion Cooperman, 68, said in an interview that he can’t walk through the dining room of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, without being thanked for speaking up. At least four people expressed their gratitude on Dec. 5 while he was eating an egg-white omelet, he said.--Bankers Join Billionaires To Debunk 'Imbecile' Attack On Top 1% American International Group Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche, 66, a Kappa Beta Phi member who disclosed in October that he was undergoing treatment for cancer, was there. He looked energetic, the two attendees said. In 1930, the dinner was beefsteak. This year, the meal featured lobster salad, shrimp, pigs-in-a-blanket, lamb chops and pistachio ice cream.-- Wall Street Secret Society Kappa Beta Phi Adds Dealmakers With Lehman Rite Wall Street headhunter Daniel Arbeeny said his “income has gone down tremendously.” On a recent Sunday, he drove to Fairway Market in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn to buy discounted salmon for $5.99 a pound.--Wall Street Bonus Withdrawal Means Trading Aspen For Coupons The clam-juice cocktails at the private Stock Exchange Luncheon Club, where brokers lined up three deep at the raw bar, contained tomato juice, cooled water from boiled chowder clams, ketchup, celery salt and the option of a freshly shucked clam. Add vodka and they called it a Red Snapper.--How America Ceded Capitalism's Bastion To German Boerse Seizing Big Board As someone once said, you can find out a lot about a man or woman's character during moments of great crisis. Do they fall apart? Do they become shells of their former selves? Do the worst parts of them come out? Do they turn their backs on everything they supposedly once stood for? Or do they, even in moments of darkness, rise to the occasion and demonstrate the morals and values they held when times were good are the very same ones they choose to live by when times are bad? For Bloomberg News reporter Max Abelson, Hurricane Sandy was a test. Would he turn in an article containing few if any reference to the food people consumed during the natural disaster? Or would his commitment to bringing readers exhaustive details re: what his Wall Street subjects eat (see above, here, and here) burn ever bright, to the extent that sources and interviewees elaborating on their situation beyond provisions would find themselves cut off and told, "Just the food and drink, toots. I got a lotta calls to make"? Luckily for us, it was the latter. Herewith, an accounting of things stuffed down the gullets of Wall Street over the last two days: * Murry Stegelmann, Kilimanjaro Advisors: expensive wine, green tea. “I had to go to the wine cellar and find a good bottle of wine and drink it before it goes bad,” Murry Stegelmann, 50, a founder of investment-management firm Kilimanjaro Advisors LLC, wrote in an e-mail after he lost power at 6 p.m. on Oct. 29 in Darien, Connecticut. The bottle he chose, a 2005 Chateau Margaux, was given 98 points by wine critic Robert Parker and is on sale at the Westchester Wine Warehouse for $999.99. “Outstanding,” Stegelmann said. He started the day with green tea at Starbucks, talking with neighbors about the New York Yankees’ future and moving boats to the parking lot of Darien’s Middlesex Middle School. * Wilson Ervin, Credit Suisse: the most depressing breakfast ever. Erin...went to the bank’s office at 11 Madison Ave. afterward to work on evaluations of managing directors and financial regulation. He ate a lunch of Raisin Bran, coffee and a banana from the 7-Eleven downstairs, he said. * Pablo Salame, Goldman Sachs: sushi, the piece of which Abelson or his research assistant counted. He posted a picture of 21 pieces of sushi on a Twitter account in his name on Oct. 29. “Only in NYC, Seamless Sandy sushi delivery in TriBeCa, Monday 730 pm,” the post said. * Wilbur Ross, WL Ross And Co: a painting. “I was scheduled to come back Sunday night, and I decided not to, because everything during the week would be canceled anyway,” said Ross, chairman of private-equity firm WL Ross & Co. “I’m stuck in Palm Beach.” He stayed in touch with colleagues using a fax machine along with phone and e-mail. His Florida home includes a painting by Rene Magritte of petrified blue apples, an image that is also depicted on a custom-made Van Cleef & Arpels watch he owns, he told Bloomberg News this year. * JPMorgan employees: many of the culinary delights its cafeteria offers on a regular basis but NO DUMPLINGS. JPMorgan, which sent out more than a dozen hurricane updates to its employees featuring detailed weather maps, kept parts of its 270 Park Ave. cafeteria open yesterday. Danishes and scones were available near the salad bar, and the bank’s deli had sandwiches with grilled vegetables. The dumpling bar was closed. Wall Street Finds Sandy Silver Lining In Wine, Monopoly [Bloomberg] Related: Things People Have Eaten in the Presence of Bloomberg Reporter Max Abelson [Daily Intel]