Warren Buffett Rails Against Investment Bankers (NYT)
In his annual letter to shareholders, released on Saturday, Mr. Buffett takes umbrage with investment bankers, accusing them of being nearsighted and self-serving and pressing for deals that aren’t always in the best long-term interest of their clients. “The Street’s denizens are always ready to suspend disbelief when dubious maneuvers are used to manufacture rising per-share earnings, particularly if these acrobatics produce mergers that generate huge fees for investment bankers,” Mr. Buffett wrote. Particularly aggravating to Mr. Buffett was the notion that investment bankers were, well, doing their jobs and drumming up business.
Munger Praises Jain and Abel, Stoking Speculation About Warren Buffett's Successor (Bloomberg)
The billionaire left the world guessing on Saturday by reiterating that the Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s board has the “right person” for the job without identifying the executive in the document. Vice Chairman Charles Munger, 91, provided more fodder for speculation. In a separate passage, he highlighted two Berkshire managers -- Ajit Jain and Greg Abel -- as examples of “world-leading” executives who are in some ways better than Buffett. “Charlie just brought the two guys out to the balcony of the Kremlin and had them wave to the crowd,” said Jeff Matthews, an investor and author of books about Berkshire, including one on succession. “He wouldn’t have done it if he didn’t have a reason.”
CEO’s Job at Stake as Citigroup Awaits Fed Stress Tests (Bloomberg)
That’s when Citigroup Inc.’s chief executive officer will hear whether the Federal Reserve has blessed his 2015 capital plan after rejecting last year’s. Corbat has said he should be held accountable, and analysts and investors say he might lose his job if the New York-based firm fails a second time.
Despite Greece, euro zone is turning the corner (Reuters)
The heightened risk of a Greek default and/or exit comes just as there are signs that the euro zone is turning the corner after seven years of financial and economic crisis and that its perilous internal imbalances may be starting to diminish.
Cherry king’s secret pot farm likely made millions: expert (NYP)
“Cherry King” Arthur Mondella was likely making millions of dollars from his secret pot-growing farm, according to an expert in the city’s illicit ganja trade — former pot farmer and ex-Gambino gangster John Alite. Cops say Mondella grew at least 100 plants at a time in the basement of the Dell’s Maraschino Cherries factory in Red Hook — which could have earned him $10 million a year, according to Alite. Alite said he grew his own “wacky tobacky” in three- month cycles, with about 100 4-foot plants yielding approximately three pounds of weed each. The pot was sold for a minimum of $3,000 a pound, he said. “So that’s $1.2 million every three months,” he said. “If it’s higher quality we sold it for $6,500 a pound. So now you’re at about $2.5 million every three months.”
Tyco’s ‘Piggy,’ Out of the Pen and Living Small (NYT)
On the 35th floor of a two-bedroom rental overlooking the East River, L. Dennis Kozlowski lives with his new wife, Kimberly, in relative modesty — at least compared with his previous life as the extravagant chief of Tyco International. Gone are the Renoir and the Monet. There aren’t any souvenirs from that iniquitous $2 million Roman-orgy birthday he threw in Sardinia in 2001, complete with Jimmy Buffett on guitar and an ice sculpture of “David” urinating Stolichnaya. And there’s definitely no $6,000 gold-and-burgundy shower curtain — which landed him on The New York Post’s cover under the headline “OINK, OINK.” Ten years and a lifetime ago, Mr. Kozlowski reigned as the archetype of avarice. This helped lead to his conviction in 2005 for looting nearly $100 million from Tyco, for which he served six and a half years in prison. That showy shower curtain was in his corporate residence on Fifth Avenue — paid for with Tyco funds — and came to symbolize a life of unabashed excess. “I was piggy,” he said during a series of recent interviews with The New York Times. “But I’m not that person anymore.”
How the Boxer Brief Got Into America's Pants (Bloomberg)
Boxer briefs have “become the expected product, rather than the experimental one,” says NPD's Marshal Cohen. “It started out as very avant-garde—a statement piece. ... The shock factor of what it was, and why it was, is gone.” How did the style go from a sexy curiosity to total ubiquity? The biggest reason for the great boxer brief takeover is the desire for comfort. Pants shrunk as fashion trends slimmed silhouettes, driving men away from boxers that risk bunching up underneath tight jeans or chinos. Men are also largely shopping for their own clothes these days, researching fabrics and styles and coming to see even the color of their underwear as an interesting choice.
Jefferies boss’ extravagant Fifth Avenue buy (NYP)
It’s been tough times for investment bank Jefferies since the Sage Kelly drama, but company president Brian Friedman is doing just fine. Friedman has gone into contract on a sprawling $16.5 million apartment at 910 Fifth Ave., real-estate sources said. The full 12th-floor residence has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a wood paneled library, a frescoed dining room, and stunning views of Central Park and down Fifth Avenue. A second source insisted that Friedman is still negotiating over the property.
European Banks’ Reciprocity Draws Scrutiny (WSJ)
Behind the scenes in Europe, banks regularly dole out lucrative work to their competitors, partly based on how much business they will receive in return. The practice, known as reciprocity, is emblematic of the industry’s clubby, tightknit nature, bankers say. In the U.K., the Financial Conduct Authority in February launched an investigation into competition in investment banking. Reciprocity is one of the practices on the regulator’s radar because of its potential to be anticompetitive, although the agency hasn’t yet decided on the precise scope of its investigation, according to a person familiar with the regulator.
Institutions Pour Cash Into Bond ETFs (WSJ)
Bond ETFs took in $32 billion globally this year through Feb. 26, according to data from Bloomberg LP, in what has been the strongest start to any year since the funds began in 2002.
After Wall Street's closing bell, on the hunt for burgers in New York (CNBC)
Seated among a large group of friends, Puma is at The Chester in Midtown Manhattan on a Tuesday night. These guys, however, are not just any group of Wall Street workers decked out in suits, ties and pocket squares. That—and the absence of talking shop during the Gotham Burger Social Club's monthly meeting—give onlookers a clue. Puma is the director of investments for a Wall Street firm's private client group. He is the founder of the group, which reviews a different Manhattan restaurant's burger each month. It all began in October 2013, "with the idea of just getting old friends together once a month," he told CNBC. The men, many of whom worked together at one time and most of whom are in the financial field, rate burgers along four categories (bun, patty, toppings and fries) using a scale of 1 to 10. Then, they calculate the average and post a review on Instagram.
Taco Bell Testing Cap'n Crunch Donut Holes Stuffed with Milk Icing (FoodBeast)
Taco Bell recently invited us over to their test kitchen to try a top-secret new dessert they plan to release. That said, here are our own photos of the new Cap'n Crunch Delights going into test immediately. Made with Cap'n Crunch Berries cereal and a warm, gooey milk icing, the Delights are the newest addition to Taco Bell's dessert lineup.