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Deals Spree Puts Banks on Track for Busiest-Ever Year [WSJ]
In the first eight months of 2021, companies have announced mergers and acquisitions worth more than $1.8 trillion in the U.S. and more than $3.6 trillion globally, according to data provider Dealogic. Both figures are the highest at this point in a year since at least 1995, when Dealogic started keeping records…. Advisory revenue should continue to fuel banks through the rest of 2021. Bankers are paid when a deal closes, and many of the year’s biggest transactions are pending….
With summer vacations ending, bankers expect to get even busier. The deal pipeline at several banks ended the second quarter at record levels. Bankers cite a combination of factors, including a positive economic outlook, elevated corporate cash levels, flush private-equity firms and target-hunting SPACs.

Goldman Cuts U.S. Growth Forecast as Consumer Sees ‘Harder Path’ [Bloomberg]
“The hurdle for strong consumption growth going forward appears much higher: the Delta variant is already weighing on Q3 growth, and fading fiscal stimulus and a slower service- sector recovery will both be headwinds in the medium term,” said [economist Ronnie] Walker.

There’s a GameStop Book, Already [NYT]
Mezrich mans the conveyor belt at the factory that turns raw reality into its eventual slick cinematic depiction. He works fast. One does not have the sense that those gaps in knowledge ever haunt him as he goes…. Plotkin and Gill are pretty much the only two characters in this book who verifiably walk the earth. The other major voices — an anime-loving Duke senior who grew up on a boat, an Obama-then-Trump-voting nurse at a psychiatric hospital the author made up, a pregnant woman whose wedding and lifestyle upgrade were waylaid by the pandemic — appear to be either anonymized or composite characters, stand-ins for the WallStreetBets rabble, motivated alternately by vengeance, fun, desperation, boredom. All these characters can be ventriloquized whenever Mezrich needs to explain a concept in finance; they experience convenient revelations whenever the plot needs advancing.

Traders Return to London Metal Exchange’s 144-Year-Old Ring [WSJ]
The ring’s reopening came as the City awaited an influx of bankers, investors and lawyers who have mostly worked from home since March last year. Streets and stations in the historic financial district remain quiet. Companies such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. are encouraging staff to return after the summer vacation, though other big employers are delaying plans to bring back employees…. Traders must be fully vaccinated or take quick Covid-19 tests twice a week. The exchange said it would measure temperatures, provide hand sanitizer and install a one-way system to avoid unnecessary interactions….
Covid-19 almost brought about the ring’s demise. The LME backed down from a proposal to shut the arena for good after Sucden and its rivals said the ring enables dealers to execute complex trades on behalf of clients such as miners.

JPMorgan YouTube star reveals real reason for quitting [efinancialcareers]
[Ben] Chon, who worked for JPMorgan in the healthcare team in SF for nearly three years between 2015 and 2018, has a YouTube channel with nearly 40,000 subscribers and various hit videos. Many of Chon's videos are about crypto investing. But some of his most popular videos are about his time at JPMorgan….
Chon explained that on bad days at JPMorgan he woke up at 7am after finishing work at 4am the night before and had 50 emails in his inbox and a message he was supposed to have responded to 10 minutes previously…. On a more relaxed day at JPMorgan, Chon said he'd wake up at 8.30am, get into the office at 9.30am and leave the office at 11pm. Notably, the hours between 5pm and 7pm were spent doing very little while Chon waited for his 40-50 year-old MD to have dinner with his family and come back to him with suggested changes to the model or presentation.

Hedge fund ‘vampire’ sinks his teeth into $19M Miami home [N.Y. Post]
It is one of 18 homes in the Camp Biscayne gated community and boasts nearly 100 feet of private beach and a dock — as well as a pool, a movie theater with 12 seats and a garage for eight cars.
The gates may be helpful, as there have been protests outside his Hamptons property and Midtown offices.

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2022

Opening Bell: 12.9.21

Nubank’s new shares; the sun will come out… next year; GameStop’s new plan; and more!

lucid rendering

Opening Bell: 2.24.21

Irrational Lucidity; Carlyle eyes big payday; GameStop CFO gets one; hedge funds shake out of Alibaba; and more!

rollercoaster

Opening Bell: 4.1.22

Roller-coaster rides on the yield curve, GameStop shares, S&P500, Greenlight; and more!

gamestop

Opening Bell: 2.3.22

Facebook falls flat; GameStop does the inevitable; Raskin raked; and more!

super mario bros

Opening Bell: 4.5.21

Masa buys; GameStop sells; journalism saved?; chocolonely; and more!

tequilashots

Opening Bell: 7.16.20

Hong Kong security law NBD to bankers but higher taxes are another story; the no-more-Trumpers come out of the woodwork; the Amazin’ Sheldon Adelson; and more!

Opening Bell: 10.22.12

Some Investors Open to Higher US Tax to Shave Deficit (Reuters) In recent weeks, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon became the latest Wall Street heavyweights to say they would be willing to pay more in exchange for a deal to balance the country's books. AIG's Benmosche On Why Capitalism Still Works (NYM) As its vaguely omnipotent name suggests, American International Group contained a little of everything: a small bank, an airline-leasing company, and a terrifyingly vast array of international companies that underwrote everything from cows in India to satellites orbiting the Earth. To the emergency team that came in following the crises, the impulse was to get rid of everything, to disassemble this Frankenstein monster once and for all. This was the idea behind Project Destiny. Benmosche had a different one. “Say you’re sitting there, you have gangrene,” he says to me one morning, before I’ve even had coffee. “And I don’t have any instruments. All I have is an ax. And I’ve gotta grab the ax and cut that sucker off. But the ax is dull. And it makes a mess. That’s what they did, in the beginning. They whacked that sucker off. And they kept hacking. But there was value in the body that was left. The body could produce things. And it owed people. What are you going to do, kill the body? Want it to be so ugly and deformed that it could never live? No! What you do is you clean it up, make it more cosmetic. Maybe we can help them get a prosthesis. Maybe they can run in the Olympics one day, like a double amputee, as we saw. Can you imagine that? A double amputee running in the race.” Goldman Bonus System Corrupted In 2005, Smith Book Says (Bloomberg) Before 2005, the company determined workers’ annual awards “not just on how much business you’d brought in, but also on how good you were for the organization,” Smith, a former vice president, writes in “Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story.” “From 2005 until the present day, the system has become largely mathematical: you were paid a percentage of the amount of revenue next to your name,” a figure that could vary from 5 percent to 7 percent, wrote Smith, 33, without saying how he learned about such a change. “The problem with the new system was that people would now do anything they could -- anything -- to pump up the number next to their name.” 129 Minutes With Goldman Turncoat Greg Smith (NYM) Why I Left Goldman Sachs may disappoint those who hoped for a collection of sordid Wall Street bacchanalia. Smith saw no financial crimes in progress at the bank, and his tales of Goldman life are mostly anodyne workplace micro-dramas told with wide-eyed breathlessness. The book’s most lurid revelation is that Smith once saw Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein naked at the company gym. With the book done, Smith says he’s looking forward to resuming a normal life, possibly as a speaker and pundit. Among other things, he’d like to meet a woman. “I’m not anti-capitalism at all,” he says. “I want Goldman to be admired. I just don’t like this notion that ethics and capitalism are different things.” Argentina orders evacuation of ship seized by hedgie Paul Singer as collateral for unpaid bonds (AP) Argentina announced the immediate evacuation Saturday of about 300 crew members from the ARA Libertad, a navy training ship seized in Africa nearly three weeks ago as collateral for unpaid bonds dating from the South American nation's economic crisis a decade ago. Only the captain and a few other members of the crew of 326 sailors will remain on the three-masted tall ship, a symbol of Argentina's navy. Girl, 9, in black and white costume shot as relative mistakes her for skunk (NYDN) A 9-year-old girl was shot outside a Halloween party Saturday night in Western Pennsylvania, taking a bullet to the shoulder from a male relative who mistook her for a skunk. The condition of the girl wasn’t released Sunday, but police in rural New Sewickley Township said she was alert and talking as she was flown to a hospital in Pittsburgh, 30 miles away. Neither the girl nor her relative was identified. She was spotted on a hillside around 8:30 p.m. wearing a black costume and black hat with a white tassel, according to the Beaver County Times. The relative who accidentally injured her was carrying a shotgun. Police Chief Ronald Leindecker said the man wasn’t under the influence of alcohol, and was unsure whether he would be charged. Prince Alwaleed Praises Pandit for Citigroup Crisis Handling (Bloomberg) Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal praised Vikram Pandit for his handling of the financial crisis while chief executive officer at Citigroup, saying he helped position the bank for further growth. “Many companies like HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered shrank and went back to their roots,” Alwaleed, the largest individual investor in Citigroup, said today at a conference in Dubai. “Citigroup never blinked on that. It’s the only global bank at the moment and really the potential is there,” 57-year- old Alwaleed said, adding that Pandit did a “good” job as CEO. West Coast Will Be In 'Colossal' Mess In 5 To 10 Years, Says Marc Faber (CNBC) Faber argued that the political systems in place in the West would allow the debt burden to continue to expand. Under such a scenario of never-ending deficits, the Western world would rack up huge deficits. One day, the system would break, he said. “Eventually, you have either huge changes occurring in a peaceful fashion through reforms, or, usually, through revolutions,” he said. The U.S. is getting closer to such a revolution, he said, as is Europe. Vampire Pong: Ex-Goldman Banker Takes On A Pro (Fortune) Halfway through a recent match, set up by Fortune between Smith and Wally Green, one of the top pros in the country, Smith crouches, leans his head toward the table and serves. The pro swings and misses. Ace....Smith brought own paddle in a soft vinyl case to the match, which was held at Spin, a club in New York. The best part of Smith's game is his serve, which is a deceptive spinning wonder that appears to be going much faster than it is. His first serve of the match, like a number of others, goes right by Green. Smith is up 1-0. "That's a very good serve," says Green. Baby Walrus Adapts To Life In Brooklyn (NYT) A team of 15 is caring for him around the clock. His favorite toy is a plastic bucket. He has taken swimmingly to a large pool. And on Friday, he had his first taste of solid food — surf clams. “He’s hitting every milestone we’re hoping to see,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, director of the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn, part of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “He still has some issues with his bladder, but they are trending in the right direction. Behaviorally, he’s doing great and we’re feeling good about his progress.” He was describing Mitik, or Mit for short, one of two walrus calves separated from a herd in the Arctic Ocean and orphaned in Alaska in July. The Alaska SeaLife Center took them in and found new homes for each. (The other walrus, Pakak, went to the Indianapolis Zoo.) The New York Aquarium, eager for a young companion for its two older walruses, stepped up, flying a staff member, Martha Hiatt, to Alaska to work with Mit for a month. On Oct. 11, Ms. Hiatt, the aquarium’s behavioral husbandry supervisor, along with a veterinarian, accompanied Mit on a FedEx cargo jet from Anchorage to Newark. The walrus, believed to be about 16 weeks old, stayed in his crate during the six-hour flight. “It was loud,” Ms. Hiatt said of the trip. “He pretty much sang to us the entire time. We stayed with him, talked to him and hosed him off now and then.” [...] much of Mit’s day consists of play, which helps his development and encourages his cooperation during medical procedures and feedings. One of his favorite activities is to scoop up a giant white bucket with holes through it. “He loves to run around with that on his head and vocalize,” Ms. Hiatt said.

(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 2.8.22

Softbank loses and wins (barely); KKR kills it; Cathie Wood cuts Twitter; Manafort’s banker follows him to prison; and more!