Opening Bell: 6.20.17

Crisis-era Qatar deal comes back to bite Barclays; Whole Foods' John Mackey says Amazon deal was sex; this tick might make you allergic to meat; and more.
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Barclays and former executives charged with crisis-era fraud (FT)
Barclays, its former chief executive and three of its other ex-senior executives have been charged with fraud by UK authorities over side-deals struck with Qatar during emergency cash calls to stave off a government bailout at the height of the financial crisis. The Serious Fraud Office case marks the first criminal charges in the UK to be filed against a bank and ‎its former top team related to activities during the financial crisis.

Blankfein Says He Tweets to Protect Goldman Sachs's Standing (BBG)
In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday, Blankfein said there are limited reasons for him to weigh in publicly on current events. “Either it’s something in our wheelhouse of expertise,” such as warning U.S. policy makers against defaulting on the nation’s debt, the Goldman chief executive officer said. Or, it’s “when things really affect the ability of our people to be who they are and do their job.”

'Love at first sight': The bizarre story of how Amazon's deal for Whole Foods went down (BI)
It’s been a whirlwind courtship. Because— little over six weeks after we met on this blind date, we’re— we’re f— officially engaged, (LAUGHTER) as of today. But like an old traditional marriage, where there are all kinds of rules and chaperones, we can’t consummate the marriage, (LAUGHTER) until we’re actually officially hooked up. This is not— this is not a Tinder relationship. (LAUGHTER) I got a feeling I’m off script.

Sluggish US growth has led companies to take the short view (FT)
A virtuous cycle reveals itself whereby accelerating growth leads to more investment now, which leads to faster expected future growth, and so on. Short-termism is a complicated issue and not all the criticisms are misplaced. But the single best thing critics can do is to spur policymakers to stimulate the economy using the available macroeconomic tools. Corporate long-termism is likely to follow.

Amazon's New Customer (Stratechery)
To the outside it may seem that Amazon is buying a retailer. The truth, though, is that Amazon is buying a customer — the first-and-best customer that will instantly bring its grocery efforts to scale.

A Tour of the Ethereum Token Bubble (Lyle Cantor)
People on both sides of these transactions smell easy money. The result is a potent combination of half-brained investment schemes and brainless investors trapped in a Keynesian beauty contest. Undoubtedly, this is a bubble. Undoubtedly, it will pop. But as with all bubbles, the trick is timing exactly when. And with that I am not able to help.

Has the meteoric rise of passive investing generated the “greatest bubble ever”? (13D Research)
At the heart of passive “dysfunction” are two key algorithmic biases: the marginalization of price discovery and the herd effect. Because shares are not bought individually, ETFs neglect company-by-company due diligence. This is not a problem when active managers can serve as a counterbalance. However, the more capital that floods into ETFs, the less power active managers possess to force algorithmic realignments. In fact, active managers are incentivized to join the herd—they underperform if they challenge ETF movements based on price discovery. This allows the herd to crowd assets and escalate their power without accountability to fundamentals.

The lost Goldman Sachs 1985 fixed income recruiting video (EFC)
Highlights of 1985 Goldman Sachs included smoking at the desk, endless coffee in paper cups, pagers in belts, big hair, big computers, a lot of telephones, a lot of paper and a lot of human beings. The video supplements this with an encouraging ’80s musical accompaniment.

Oh, Lovely: The Tick That Gives People Meat Allergies Is Spreading (Wired)
Yep, one bite from the lone star tick—which gets its name from the Texas-shaped splash of white on its back—is enough to reprogram your immune system to forever reject even the smallest nibble of perfectly crisped bacon. For years, physicians and researchers only reported the allergy in places the lone star tick calls home, namely the southeastern United States. But recently it’s started to spread. The newest hot spots? Duluth, Minnesota, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the eastern tip of Long Island, where at least 100 cases have been reported in the last year. Scientists are racing to trace its spread, to understand if the lone star tick is expanding into new territories, or if other species of ticks are now causing the allergy.

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Schapiro SEC Reign Nears End With Rescue Mission Not Done (Bloomberg) Admirers and critics agree Schapiro rescued the agency from the threat of extinction when she was appointed by President Barack Obama four years ago. Still, she hasn’t fulfilled her mission -- to overcome the SEC’s image as a failed watchdog by punishing those who steered the financial system toward disaster and by proving regulators can head off future breakdowns. “It was harder than I thought it was going to be,” Schapiro, 57, said during an interview in her office that looks out on the Capitol dome. “You have this nice little box of things you want to do all tied up with a bow, and you walk in the door and it’s very hard to keep at least one eye on that agenda while you’re dealing with the flash crashes and the new legislation and the whole range of things that happened,” she said. 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So far, that bet has been a loser: The Wall Street tycoon lost about $3 billion personally in 2011, according to people close to the hedge-fund manager, speculating that the economy would recover faster than it did. But through the downturn Mr. Paulson—whose net worth is estimated to be around $11 billion, according to people familiar with his situation—continued his real estate spending spree. Over the last eight years, he has spent more than $145 million on six properties, including two estates in Southampton, N.Y., two properties near Aspen, Colo., and two residences in Manhattan, where he is based, according to public records. (He later sold one of the Southampton properties, for $10 million in 2009, a year after buying a larger estate nearby). In June, Mr. Paulson snapped up a 90-acre Aspen ranch and an adjoining property from Prince Bandar bin Sultan for a total of $49 million, according to public records, one of the highest prices ever paid for property in the area. 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