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Wall Street whistleblowers risk retaliation, regulator apathy

The personal price of exposing financial wrongdoing can be devastating. Report for The Financial Times by William D Cohan, including interviews with whistleblowers formerly employed at Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase.
posted by far flung on Jun 1, 2014 - 20 comments

Microsecond mercenaries

It used to be that when his trading screens showed 10,000 shares of Intel offered at $22 a share, it meant that he could buy 10,000 shares of Intel for $22 a share. He had only to push a button. By the spring of 2007, however, when he pushed the button to complete a trade, the offers would vanish. In his seven years as a trader, he had always been able to look at the screens on his desk and see the stock market. Now the market as it appeared on his screens was an illusion.
In an excerpt/adaption of his new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Michael Lewis follows Brad Katsuyama from uncovering evidence of high-speed electronic front-running to the founding of the IEX exchange intended to discourage it. The Wolf Hunters of Wall Street (SLNYT).
posted by figurant on Mar 31, 2014 - 153 comments

Vampire Squid

The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks' Most Devious Scam Yet. "Banks are no longer just financing heavy industry. They are actually buying it up and inventing bigger, bolder and scarier scams than ever." This is the latest and last article for Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi, who is moving on to join First Look Media.
posted by homunculus on Feb 21, 2014 - 56 comments

Too big to ...?

Matt Levine writes in the Wall Street Journal: Morgan Stanley Now Obeying Rules, Reducing Risks, Eating Cupcakes
So while of course it's possible that this is just next-level perception manipulation and I've fallen for it -- that Morgan Stanley has found a novel way to take on immense amounts of complex risk and hide it behind an army of retail brokers and a layer of cream-cheese frosting -- I think that this story is what it appears to be. Morgan Stanley seems to be de-risking by cutting back on risky activities, and responding to new regulations by obeying them.
On the New Wall Street, Boring Is Better [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 21, 2013 - 27 comments

“Not many antagonize Goldman just for the hell of it,”

The Lonely Redemption Of Sandy Lewis
“The complicity on Wall Street is sickness!” Mr. Lewis says. He fixes you with his laser stare. “If you think the big firms are being honest” — his tone slides streetwise — “well, sweetheart, go think something else!” The temptation is to dismiss Mr. Lewis, 73, as a crank, except he once ruled as an eccentric genius of arbitrage, with a preternatural feel for the tectonic movements of the markets. He has railed for decades about venalities now on daily display. Rude truth is his currency.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 9, 2013 - 7 comments

The alchemists of Wall Street are at it again.

Wall Street begins playing again with the same matches that burned the economy in 2008 From the New York Times: "The banks that created risky amalgams of mortgages and loans during the boom — the kind that went so wrong during the bust — are busily reviving the same types of investments that many thought were gone for good. Once more, arcane-sounding financial products like collateralized debt obligations are being minted on Wall Street. " (View article on a single page) [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 20, 2013 - 57 comments

The untouchables

Wall Street's leaders have utterly escaped jail. "There have been no arrests of senior Wall Street executives." Frontline examines why the United States federal government didn't go after the financial titans. (via)
posted by doctornemo on Jan 23, 2013 - 159 comments

“PHILOSOPSHY”

Kevin Roose of Nymag.com posted about a brand new North Carolinian hedge fund that seemed less than impressive. The fund then started to use a sarcastic quote from Kevin's post as a kind of ringing endorsement on their website. Uh oh.
posted by The Whelk on Oct 6, 2012 - 43 comments

The JOBS Act is for Wall Street, not jobs

The JOBS Act or "Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act" is not really about creating jobs but about loosening regulations on companies planning to IPO. SOX compliance and other financial regulations have made going public an expensive and time consuming process for young companies, and many are now staying private or getting acquired rather than going public. Fewer regulations encourages more IPOs, but what are the unintended consequences of "exempting [companies] from independent accounting requirements for up to five years after they first begin selling shares in the stock market"?
posted by lubujackson on Apr 12, 2012 - 85 comments

A Vampire Squid with Muppets

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs. New York Time Op-Ed. March 14th 2012:
TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.
[more inside]
posted by Skygazer on Mar 14, 2012 - 150 comments

Buy more oregano

The Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi uses a paper bag to illustrate exactly how the sub-prime mortgage scam worked, and how we're still on the hook for the next catastrophe. [more inside]
posted by clarknova on Mar 3, 2012 - 56 comments

Fancy derivatives are mostly gone. Prop trading is gone. There’s less leverage everywhere. Mortgages are back to old-fashioned conservative mortgages—which is a good thing.”

The End of Wall Street As They Knew It
After surprisingly successful financial reform, public vilification, and politics that have turned against them, the Masters of the Universe are masters no longer.
posted by clearly on Feb 6, 2012 - 73 comments

An academic review of 21 books on the financial crisis

Andrew Lo reviews 21 books on the financial crisis. In a 41-page paper, Andrew Lo, from the MIT Sloan School of Management, does a comparative review of 21 books about the financial crisis - some from academics and some from journalists and Secretary Paulson, looking for common threads. Tyler Cowen comments.
posted by falameufilho on Jan 22, 2012 - 30 comments

The SEC's Memory Hole

Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes? "A whistleblower claims that over the past two decades, the agency has destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals."
posted by homunculus on Aug 18, 2011 - 45 comments

An unfiltered view from the top of the pyramid

In an investment manager's view on the top 1% - referring to the richest Americans by wealth and income - we learn that one needs $1.2 million in net worth to barely slip in the door of the top 1%. But that's just a start: the real power and influence in the U.S., the author argues, resides in the top 0.1%. You can guess who you'll find there: bankers and large-cap CEOs. Relevant quotes include... [more inside]
posted by mark7570 on Aug 4, 2011 - 115 comments

Recent innovation and optimism from Goldman Sachs

Reuters reports that Goldman Sachs is storing aluminum in several warehouses outside Detroit. Apparently not much aluminum is actually leaving the warehouses. This may help explain the recent spike in the price of - any guesses? - aluminum. [more inside]
posted by mark7570 on Jul 28, 2011 - 155 comments

Bubbles and Public Facts

The Destruction of Economic Facts - "Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto argues that the financial crisis wasn't just about finance—it was about a staggering lack of knowledge" (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 23, 2011 - 35 comments

Oscar acceptance speech for "Inside Job"

In his Oscar acceptance speech, documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson reminded viewers worldwide that "not a single financial executive has gone to jail" for the fraud that created the 2008 financial meltdown. His film Inside Job (on Netflix DVD) explains, among other things, that the crisis was avoidable. See also the Inside Job trailer and a subsequent followup video in which Ferguson says that many sources "mysteriously backed out" before being filmed. He also spoke at MIT in January.
posted by mark7570 on Mar 2, 2011 - 55 comments

Checks Without Banks: The Irish Banking Strike

The Irish Banking Crisis: A Parable - What happened when the Irish stood up to the bankers in the 1970s? cf. Why Wall Street won't get shrunk & The Inequality That Matters [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Dec 17, 2010 - 38 comments

Researchers claim Tweets predict The Dow

Invented by Charles Dow in 1896, The Dow Jones Average ("The Dow") is perhaps the most widely known metric of equity market behaviour. Calculated as a price weighted average of thirty stocks, The Dow is generally eschewed by professional investors who prefer the broader S&P 500, a so-called market capitalisation weighted index consisting of 500 stocks. Regardless, proponents of the Dow claim its simplicity, long history and careful design as a reliable proxy of US economic activity as points in its favour. But can they now claim predicability as well? [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Oct 23, 2010 - 19 comments

Obama signs Wall Street reform bill

In a "Triumph of Policy Over Politics" President Obama today signed most sweeping Wall Street reform bill since Great Depression. Obamas remarks at the signing. A piece-by-piece guide to th financial overhaul law. Timeline of the laws effects. 10 Ways New Wall Street Reform Law Will Help You.
posted by Artw on Jul 21, 2010 - 141 comments

The Casino Called Wall Street

Maybe Microsoft is trading in London at a penny less than it's trading at the same moment in New York. A high-frequency trader will buy shares in London and wait for them to rise. Since the discrepancy lasts a mere fraction of a second, speed is key. [Tradework CEO] M. Narang boasts it takes only 15 millionth of a second for his computers to place a buy or sell order after detecting an opportunity. Or, as he puts it, "If you try to pick up the penny, we'll probably beat you to it." [more inside]
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 on May 15, 2010 - 62 comments

Heads I win, tails you lose...

"Although the word “entitlement” fits, it’s been used so frequently as to have become inadequate to capture the preening self-regard, the obliviousness to the damage that high-flying finance has inflicted on the real economy, the learned blindness to vital considerations in the pay equation. Getting an education, or even hard work, does not guarantee outcomes. One of the basic precepts of finance is that of a risk-return tradeoff: high potential payoff investments come with greater downside. But how did that evolve into the current belief system among the incumbents, that Wall Street was a sure ride, a guaranteed “heads I win, tails you lose” bet?"
Yves Smith writes an essay on 'indefensible men.'
posted by ennui.bz on Mar 19, 2010 - 38 comments

"Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them."

Darth Vader and an entourage of Storm Troopers rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on December 22nd. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 1, 2010 - 42 comments

The Devil and Goldman Sachs

Meet financial advisor Mike Morgan. He started an anti-Goldman Sachs website to examine "what part Goldman Sachs and their executives played in the current Global Economic Crisis." The investment bank and its lawyers told him to cease and desist. So Morgan sued Goldman (pdf). The response has been overwhelming. Morgan is now organizing volunteers to go after the other banksters. Want to help? There's a webinar scheduled tonight.
posted by up in the old hotel on Apr 15, 2009 - 40 comments

Michael Osinski wrote the software that turned mortgages into bonds

My Manhattan Project: How I helped build the bomb that blew up Wall Street. [print version]
posted by blasdelf on Mar 30, 2009 - 34 comments

What the FEC couldn't figure out

Matt Taibbifilter: Among other things, the GAO report noted that the entire OTS had only one insurance specialist on staff — and this despite the fact that it was the primary regulator for the world's largest insurer! This week's MeFi stories have generally failed to explain the reasoning that caused the recession, even though Jon Stewart was basically on the mark. Now, Rolling Stone's only reporter lays it all out The Big Takeover, a typical combination of zealous snark and the overlooked, damning facts needed to clear up a ridiculously complicated story.
posted by shii on Mar 20, 2009 - 111 comments

Pitchforks to the right, torches to the left

Washington Post reports that the American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year. The payments to A.I.G.’s financial products unit are in addition to $121 million in previously scheduled bonuses.
posted by dejah420 on Mar 14, 2009 - 93 comments

"Because the math is really complicated people assume it must be right."

They are known as “quants” because they do quantitative finance. Seduced by a vision of mathematical elegance underlying some of the messiest of human activities, they apply skills they once hoped to use to untangle string theory or the nervous system to making money. "They Tried to Outsmart Wall Street." [spoiler inside] [more inside]
posted by dersins on Mar 10, 2009 - 38 comments

Why Wall Street Always Blows It

Why Wall Street Always Blows It, and why we're always to blame, as told by banished securities analyst Henry Blodget.
posted by SeizeTheDay on Dec 30, 2008 - 37 comments

teh free markets, ur doin it wrong

LOLFed. Doan cry, emo banker! If you hate the latest financial crisis news, but love image macros, then this is the site for you. It's like I Can Has Cheezburger meets the Wall Street Journal.
posted by Asparagirl on Sep 22, 2008 - 61 comments

Sir John Templeton, 1912-2008, RIP and thank you for the investing lessons.

The simple phrase "it's different this time" are the four most expensive words in the English language. Sir John Templeton, 1912-2008, we thank you for this lesson and countless others. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Jul 9, 2008 - 67 comments

Dark pools of liquidity, or the secret stock market

The rapid growth of electronic trading since 1976 has benefited equity market participants by improving competition, reducing cost and increasing liquidity while insuring better pricing.

One unexpected side effect has been the recent emergence of "dark pools of liquidity", or the secret stock market. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on May 20, 2008 - 21 comments

Sell in May and go Away but buy back on St. Leger Day

Academic discussions of stock markets frequently reference The Efficient Markets Hypothesis; an idea that share prices are fairly valued, their prices reflecting all available information. However folklore such as "Sell in May and go away", which proved prudent in 2007, clashes with this theory. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on May 15, 2008 - 11 comments

Barings redux?

Credit Suisse will take a $2.65 billion hit to earnings and post it's first quarterly loss since 2003 due, to no small part, to deliberate mispricing of asset backed securities by several traders operating at all levels of seniority across the 143 year old institution. [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Mar 21, 2008 - 33 comments

Look out below...!

While the US equities markets were closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Day, stock markets around the world took a nosedive, losing billions in equity; the markets in Australia, South Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Germany, France, the UK, and more countries have dropped at least 5% each (Canada only fell 4.75%), even though most of those markets had already been seriously down for several days prior. India has been hit particularly hard, at one point down a whopping 11%, tripping their markets' automatic "circuit breakers" for a mandatory time-out period, before scraping back up to close at 8% down. US futures markets are currently predicting a 650+ point drop just at the open Tuesday morning, before even a single trade goes through. [more inside]
posted by Asparagirl on Jan 22, 2008 - 306 comments

And yes, the band did play on.

It was twenty years ago today... [more inside]
posted by Mutant on Oct 19, 2007 - 27 comments

Leave the SIV, take the cannoli

At a time when fed-up American citizens are petitioning Congress to end the imprudent financial practices that caused the housing bubble sub-prime mortgage crisis liquidity crisis impending recession -- including the banning of SIV's and refusing any bailouts for Wall Street, banks, or mortgage companies -- the United States Treasury Department has just announced the creation of a giant-mega-ultra SIV called "M-LEC" made up of assets from several of the largest American banks. Already unofficially nicknamed "Sivie Mae" (or worse, "the Frankenstein Fund"), it would be an off-balance-sheet way for these banks to pool and price the ABCP's that they've lately been having trouble pricing and thus selling -- i.e. the liquidity crisis. [more inside]
posted by Asparagirl on Oct 16, 2007 - 82 comments

This is what happens when you lend money to poor people.

"I had no idea how my open-handedness could be made to look, after the fact. At the time I bought the subprime portfolio I thought: This is sort of like my way of giving something back. I didn't expect a profile in Philanthropy Today or anything like that. I mean, I bought at a discount. But I thought people would admire the Wall Street big shot who found a way to help the little guy. Sort of like a money doctor helping a sick person. Then the little guy wheels around and gives me this financial enema. And I'm the one who gets crap in the papers!" -- Michael Lewis on the subprime meltdown
posted by GrammarMoses on Sep 8, 2007 - 42 comments

Minsky Meltdown ahead?

Minsky Meltdown ahead? Named after Hyman Minsky, an economist who was known for his research concerning financial crises, specifically asset bubbles based on credit cycles. [much more inside]
posted by umop-apisdn on Aug 29, 2007 - 75 comments

A world of Casey Serins

What's the link between:
1) the quickly-growing number of American homeowners becoming unable to pay their mortgages after their ARM's reset (a trend nicknamed "ARMageddon" -- applicable in the UK too), which is translating into soaring foreclosure rates, and in turn forcing at least 60 US semi-shady mortgage brokers to go belly-up in the past year (i.e. the "subprime meltdown"), and...
2) the recent implosion and impending financial bailout -- which may become the biggest since the Long Term Capital Management fiasco of 1998 -- of two Bear Stearns hedge funds which dealt in mortgage securities? [more inside]
posted by Asparagirl on Jul 11, 2007 - 123 comments

In Bowie We Trust... again?

An unexpected side effect of iTunes. Remember Bowie Bonds? Introduced in 1997, bonds tied to future profits of music artists (besides Bowie, James Brown and the Isley Brothers offered them) tanked with the advent of online filesharing. Thanks to iTunes, some on Wall Street are betting that the Bowie Bond is a concept with a future.
posted by me3dia on Aug 23, 2005 - 16 comments

Big Business as Usual.

Big Business As Usual. "In announcing their record settlement with 10 Wall Street firms accused of misleading investors with bogus recommendations, [the Securities and Exchange Commission] also released new e-mail records showing stock experts chortling about how they were making out like bandits at the expense of the average investor", and revealed troubling insights into the way Wall Street really works: "Merrill Lynch initiated coverage of LFMN on September 28, 2000 with a 2-1 [10-20% appreciation forecast short term, 20% appreciation forecast long term], when LFMN traded at $22.69. At that time, Merrill Lynch was pursuing an investment banking relationship with LFMN. After Merrill Lynch initiated research coverage, LFMN's price declined to the....$3-5 range in December. On December 4, 2000, Blodget e-mailed a fellow analyst,'LFMN at $4. I can't believe what a POS [piece of shit] that thing is. Shame on me/us for giving them any benefit of doubt.' Merrill Lynch's research report on LFMN dated December 21, 2000, [reiterates] a 2-1 rating..."
And the "record settlement" with these common swindlers in three piece business suits from our brave SEC? For Wall Street, Fines Are A Day's Pay.
posted by fold_and_mutilate on May 7, 2003 - 23 comments

Someone we trust says something reassuring.

Someone we trust says something reassuring. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, arguably the most powerful man in the world, blames "infectious greed" for the recent panic-like tail-spins on Wall Street, but says that the economy is on the way to recovery. One comment held that Greenspan was finally able to let out how he feels about what's going on, without shrouding his opinion in economic jibber-jabber.
"For once he really spoke his mind. He usually tends to obfuscate things quite a bit."
But really, how many of you expected Greenspan to say anything other than "the fundamentals are in place for a return to sustained healthy growth"? Does Greenspan actually feel this way? Could it be that he is actually majorly pessimistic, but is using his soothing sweet-song voice and obvious clout and earned respect to somehow buck recent trends? Bush's speech didn't do much for our faltering economy, but will Greenspan's? Can one man's mere words possibly change the course of history? Well?
posted by Hammerikaner on Jul 16, 2002 - 27 comments

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