The Banker-Turned-Seminarian Trying to Save Citigroup’s Soul (WSJ)
The bank describes his role as providing “advice and input to senior management.” His conversations with top executives like Chief Executive Michael Corbat filter through the organization. At a meeting with managing directors, for example, Mr. Corbat raised an idea that came from Dr. Miller. In an uncertain situation, Mr. Corbat said, ask the four M’s: What would your mother, your mentor, the media and—if you’re inclined—your maker think?
Edge or Liability? White House Ties May Cut Two Ways for Goldman (NYT)
When Goldman employees run into their former colleagues now working at the White House, “everyone just needs to learn to talk weather and sports,” said a Goldman spokesman, Jake Siewert, who left a job at the aluminum company Alcoa for a Treasury post in 2009 and faced similar issues. “For better or worse” at Goldman Sachs, he added, “we have learned to run our business under intense public scrutiny.”
Being bullish on China is no longer an outlier view (FT)
“We’re not saying everything is right with China — there are certainly causes for concern,” said Timothy Moe, Goldman Sachs’ chief Asia-Pacific equity strategist. “What we are saying, pretty emphatically, is that growth prospects have improved.”
Bitcoin ‘mining’ is big business in Venezuela, but the government wants to shut it down (WaPo)
“Miners are getting jailed and accused of terrorism, money laundering, computer crimes and many other crimes,” read one comment from a user who claimed to be Venezuelan. “It's getting crazy here and I really don't want to waste my life for money.”
Icahn Bets Against Renewables Market He Wants Trump to Overhaul (BBG)
Icahn participates in the market through CVR Energy Inc., the oil refiner in which his company owns an 82 percent stake. CVR is required to buy credits known as renewable identification numbers when it makes gasoline. But Icahn said he's delaying those purchases in a wager that prices will fall. In effect, he’s shorting the market. “I’m not selling ’em, I’m not buying ’em,” the 81-year-old investor said in an interview at his New York office last week. “Hey, this is what I do in the market. I’m taking a chance.”
The Active Equity Renaissance: Rejecting a Broken 1970s Model (CFA Institute)
The top 20 relative-weight holdings generate fund alpha, while the low-ranked holdings destroy it. So any restriction imposed on a fund that mandates holding anything other than the best idea stocks negatively affects a fund’s alpha. If enough mandates are added, a potential positive alpha is transformed into an actual negative alpha. The fund distribution system is full of such restrictions: Fund managers are required to hold many stocks for diversification purposes, manage to low volatility and drawdown, avoid tracking error and style drift, grow large, and impose sector-weighting constraints. In essence, the distribution system is a closet indexer manufacturing juggernaut.
A blind spot masks the danger signs in finance (WSJ)
Before 2008, economists did not see the danger signs emerging in the weeds of financial markets, such as credit derivatives, because they were trained to watch only “real” economy signals (such as inflation). After that crisis hit, central bankers briefly seemed to change their ways. But Mr Shin fears that this blind spot is returning again: most notably, economists tend to blame low rates on the real economy, instead of also looking in the weeds of finance.
Lack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute (NYT)
The appeals court on Monday sided with the drivers, saying the absence of a comma produced enough uncertainty to rule in their favor. It reversed a lower court decision. In other words: Oxford comma defenders won this round. “That comma would have sunk our ship,” David G. Webbert, a lawyer who represented the drivers, said.
Zoo Sues Producers For 'Traumatizing' Raccoon With An 'Erotic Video' Shoot (Gizmodo) Animals Aren’t Toys characterizes itself as a “contact zoo” and its motto is “little animals are not toys.” Reportedly, the zoo made a deal with Russian video firm called Art-Msk back in August for Tomas to be featured in a “regular advertisement.” Spokesman Viktor Kiryukhin tells the BBC that when the raccoon returned from his filmmaking adventure he was traumatized and “was attracted to women’s breasts.”