A Pay Gap Narrows on Wall Street (WSJ)
The gap between what bank CEOs and their staffs take home in pay has narrowed significantly since the financial crisis, driven mostly by a drop in compensation for the leaders of the five biggest Wall Street firms, according to a Wall Street Journal review of bank regulatory filings. The average pay for a worker at the five companies jumped to new highs in 2014, but pay remained well below precrisis levels for chief executives. The CEOs last year on average made 124 times the average worker at the banks, down 55% from 273 times in 2006.
Greek finance minister to discuss reforms with IMF chief (Reuters)
Talks with lenders have been have been tense and slow-moving. Greek officials suggested this week that the government would prioritize spending on wages and pensions over meeting the conditions necessary to unblock a roughly 450 million euro loan tranche to the IMF due on April 9, making markets nervous and reviving fears of a Greek default. Athens denied that was its intention, with government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis saying there is "no chance that Greece will not meet its obligations to the IMF".
Merrill Doesn’t Hesitate to Ax Big Producers, Sending Message (WSJ)
The new, tougher approach is seen largely as a response to increased scrutiny from regulators and heightened oversight by the brokerage itself. The message was delivered in dramatic fashion: In September and again last month, the Bank of America Corp.-owned brokerage fired longtime financial advisers handling very large and lucrative accounts. According to the firm, they had violated its policies for dealing with clients and handling transactions. In both cases, Merrill surprised the advisers—and many of their colleagues—by opting for immediate termination over a less severe sanction that would have allowed them to remain on the job.
Bank of America accused of ‘tarnishing’ Merrill Lynch (NYP)
Bank of America’s integration of the prized brokerage empire is spooking many Merrill financial advisers, who are balking at CEO Brian Moynihan’s arm-twisting, corporate culture, people familiar with the company say. The Charlotte, NC, bank’s efforts to wring profits from its Merrill unit is turning off many of the Herd’s professionals, Merrill advisers said, privately complaining that BofA’s persistent push to cross-sell banking and brokerage products is the problem. Former advisers and industry insiders accuse BofA of tarnishing the proud Merrill brand.
Oklahoma police seize Easter Bunny containing $30,000 worth of meth (UPI)
A package containing an Easter Bunny doll with $30,000 worth of meth inside has been seized by Oklahoma police. The stuffed animal had a hole in the bottom where two condoms full of meth had been inserted. The meth weighed one pound. A woman named Carolyn Ross has been arrested for the crime, and she has already admitted she knew the drugs were in the stuffed animal. She said she was supposed to send them to someone who could redistribute them, according to Fox 23.
Court Rejects Bharara’s Plea to Reconsider Insider Trading Ruling (Dealbook)
On Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied Mr. Bharara’s request to reconsider a ruling in December that sharply narrowed the definition of insider trading. That ruling, issued by a three-judge panel of the court, tossed out the convictions of two hedge fund traders and threatened to dissolve other signature convictions and pleas secured by the office of Mr. Bharara, the United States attorney for Manhattan. The latest denial from the appeals court now leaves Mr. Bharara with few legal options. With the approval of the United States solicitor general, Mr. Bharara could seek to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, but legal analysts have described his chances there as a long shot.
Big Investor Involvement Could Boost Bitcoin (WSJ)
Among the companies at the forefront of this move is DRW Holdings LLC, a high-frequency trading firm in Chicago founded by former options-pit trader Donald Wilson in 1992. DRW is a founding investor in a new bitcoin financial-services firm called Digital Asset Holdings that launched last month. Cumberland Mining & Materials LLC, a DRW subsidiary, has “begun to experiment with cryptocurrency trading,” DRW said.
Goldman: Here's Where U.S. Investors Should Put Their Money for the Rest of the Year (Bloomberg)
Taking a look at sector breakdowns, the firm is bullish on information technology, energy, and telecom services and bearish on financials and consumer staples.
A Reckoning With Weak Oil Prices (WSJ)
“It’s going to be ugly,” said Jason Gammel, an analyst at Jefferies. “It’s going to be a really bad quarter.”
Panda breaks sex record with epic session (NYDN)
Just a day after a record-setting mating session, giant panda Lu Lu exceeded expectations once again — but with a different partner this time. Lu Lu lasted 18 minutes and three seconds with partner Xi Mei during the marathon April 3 copulation. It was the second epic display of panda stamina in two days at the Sichuan Giant Panda Research Center, according to The Telegraph. Lu Lu became a Chinese Internet sensation after film was posted of an eight-minute April 2 lovemaking session with panda Zhen Zhen, reports The People's Daily. For the record, he lasted a full seven minutes and 45 seconds Zhen Zhen. But that record was blown away by Friday's romp with Xi Mei. Panda sex typically lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes. Lu Lu has been dubbed "The Enduring Brother" by zookeepers at the Sichuan Giant Panda Research Center.