Tag Archive | "scientists"

DB At The Movies: Too Big To Fail

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If you’ve been keeping up with your HBO original programming schedule, you know that Too Big To Fail, the movie based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s 2009 book, airs next Monday evening. Last night was the premiere at the Museum of Modern Art and while the trailers looked promising, in order to make sure none of you wasted any of your precious time or DVR space in the event it wasn’t worth it, I attended to see how things turned out and report back. Warren Buffett did the same, though was initially met with some opposition at the door, in an encounter that went like this:

Door girls: Do you have your ticket?
Buffett: Uh…no…
Door girls: You need your tickets.
Buffett: Oh, uh…we were invited..
[One of Buffett's dates]: This is Warren Buffett.
[The group is seated]

Other people in attendance who did have their tickets, included but were not limited to: George Soros (with a entourage of lady friends), Meredith Whitney in a white pinstriped suit, Becky Quick, Rodgin Cohen, Regis Philbin, Michael Douglas and all the actors from the flick (William Hurt, Paul Giamatti, Billy Crudup, James Woods, Bill Pullman, Evan Handler, Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Modine, Ed Asner), though not all the real life people they portray (Jamie Dimon was getting ready for today’s JPM shareholder meeting in Ohio, Fuld was probably busy plotting his comeback).

The movie condenses Sorkin’s 539 page book into about 90 minutes and traces the slightly tense moments that were 2008 just after Bear Stearns was bought to the day Paulson locked the top bank CEO’s in a room and and forced them to accept his capital injections. William Hurt does a pretty badass Hank– who gets the most screen time by far– having spent a few days fishing with him in preparation for the role (during which one would hope HP described what it was like threatening to send Ken Lewis home in a body bag if he backed out of the Merrill Lynch deal). I liked it, you probably will too.** Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Who Will Like TBTF

- Hank Paulson: The former Treasury Secretary is the lead role; the movie shows his sleepless nights, his afternoons spent vomiting, and his attempt to SAVE AMERICA, all without shotgunning just one beer or a single tablespoon of Pepto-Bismol like you know he wanted to but which Christian Science prohibits. The movie even gets into his bird fetish, opening with Paulson observing a majestic red tailed hawk outside his window.

- Tim Geithner: Who producers decided resembles Billy Crudup (who plays “freaked the fuck out” pretty well)

- Ben Bernanke: Paul Giamatti grew a beard and (adorable) jowls to play the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, which he mostly does from the shadows- in a poorly lit room where he and Paulson discuss the fact that the economy might collapse over breakfast or emerging from a corner, where he might as well be holding a flashlight under his chin as he informs Congress or the bank CEOs that they can 1. do what he and Paulson are telling them to do or 2. don’t and be responsible for a Depression worse than the one he studied at Princeton (his pump up speeches are some of the best parts of the movie)

- Jamie Dimon: Every time JD- played by Bill Pullman- appears on screen we’re told in one way or another that he’s the smart banker, the responsible banker, the King of the Bankers (**Dimon’s only gripe may be that Bill Pullman doesn’t entirely pull off the innate coolness, which isn’t his fault- Jamie was born this way and some things can’t be taught; it’d be like asking Pavarotti, “teach me to sing like you.”)

- Lloyd Blankfein: The Goldman CEO is described as “a superstar,” but more importantly, Evan Handler actually nails the various The Lloyd Face(s), which some of us (me) were very skeptical anyone could do

- John Mack: While Tony Shalhoub’s Southern accent is more of a cross between a Southern and Western accent, Mack’s character fares well and gets one of the funnier (fictional?) lines of the movie: “Great, here comes E-Harmony,” when Geithner is calling him about the idea to merge the investment banks with commercial banks.

- Vikram Pandit: If he can get past the “no one knows if he’s running Citi or Citi’s running him” line, and is ready to laugh about all this, the actor who plays him does justice to the scene in which Pandit turns down Lloyd.

- CNBC: The network financial crisis coverage is threaded throughout the movie with Erin Burnett, Maria Bartiromo and Steve Liesman getting the most shout-outs

- Christian Scientists: They ought to appreciate the scene in which Hank Paulson flushes the sleeping pills someone on his staff gave him, as a commitment to his faith.

- Andrew Ross Sorkin: Someone got a cameo

- The (Our) Lehman Coffee Cart Guy: Oh yeah, there’s a nice lingering shot of his setup.

People Who Will Not Like TBTF

- John Thain: If the (unintentionally hilariously) bad toupee on Matthew Modine doesn’t do it, the fact that he’s pointedly made to look like the world’s biggest prick in every scene he appears might do it (Thain is portrayed as “selfish” (Paulson/Hurt’s words), conniving and greedy, and arguably comes off worse than Fuld)

- Charlie Gasparino: Who is not featured in any of the CNBC footage

- People Who Are “Tim Geithner Can Go Fuck Himself” Purists: This group will likely not appreciate the rewrite of the line uttered by John Mack while trying to do a deal with Mitsubishi and being repeatedly called by Tim Geithner. In the movie, he tells his secretary to pass on the message, “Tell Geithner he can blow me”


- Warren Buffett: On the one hand, when discussed by other characters, the point is driven home that he’s The Most Important Banker/Elder Statesman/ What Have You in the world. On the other, Ed Asner is about 40 pounds heavier, looks like a slob throughout the movie and deploys no folksy business wisdom con aberrant sex fetish. On the third, Buffett said at the 4 Seasons party afterwards that he thought the movie/Ed were great (and that “he did an excellent job portraying such a glamorous guy”)

- Alan Greenspan: Probably proud of the mention (Paulson to Bernanke: “Greenspan suggested we buy up all the vacant houses and burn them down”) but miffed at not having the entire movie be about him and his reign as Grand High Poobah

- Chris Cox: Comes off as kind of a pussy/imbecile but perhaps he’ll appreciate the accuracy?

- Barney Frank: Totally at a loss for whether or not he’ll approve of the outside the box casting of Dan Hedaya.

- Dick Fuld: Hear me out on this one. Yes, the movie (accurately) depicts Dick Fuld thinking that everything at Lehman was all good in the hood, that the only problem was “the god damn shorts,” that Lehman, as late as August 2008, would “stand strong and eat Goldman’s lunch,” that he wouldn’t fuck up the potential deal with Korea Development Bank by coming in and making the case that Lehman’s real estate holdings had a lot of value. But Fuld is also portrayed as actually caring about the bank and it’s employees, in his own way (which, if he wanted to show he cared, shouldn’t have blown a hole in their balance sheet and done some other stuff but retrospect, etc). Plus, he gets to watch himself be played by James Woods and who wouldn’t like that?

- Blankfein Humor Scholars: These people will likely be divided in their opinion that LB’s quips are generally more of the more subtle variety than, when discussing Paulson’s failure to get the authority from the FSA to do the Barclays/Lehman deal, “He didn’t drop the ball- he dropped the ball, kicked the coach in the nuts and took a shit in the quarterback’s mouth”

**Although you might not like the closing captions which I think some of you should probably close your eyes for if you’ve got blood pressure/heart problems and which I want to mention so badly but I won’t so see it and then we can discuss.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 01.11.11

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Goldman Opens Up To Mollify Its Critics (WSJ)
In a 63-page report set to be released Tuesday, Goldman says that for the first time in its 142-year-history, it will start disclosing how much revenue comes from the firm’s own trading and investing, according to a copy of the report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The reporting change will begin with Goldman’s fourth-quarter results later this month…Other changes include procedures to make sure the firm doesn’t take advantage of clients, even accidentally. Thousands of Goldman clients will be put into a “matrix” that defines each client’s level of “sophistication.” That process will determine which types of transactions are most “suitable” for the client. Those wanting to breach those limits will need special approval from Goldman.

Morgan Stanley Model Gets Little Respect as Gorman Defies Slide (Bloomberg)
Morgan Stanley, which reports fourth-quarter results next week, lagged behind Goldman Sachs Group Inc.. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in fixed-income trading in the first nine months, the second year it has done so. The New York-based firm, the sixth- largest U.S. bank by assets with more than 62,000 employees, backed off its profit-margin goals for the brokerage in July, blaming the May 6 market crash that briefly wiped out $862 billion in equity market value for scaring away retail investors.

Get Ready For 8-12 More Inches
Everybody flip out: Two powerful storms bearing down on the city will join forces tonight to dump up to a foot of snow here, forecasters say. The miserable mix of snow and 35-mph wind gusts will be gone by tomorrow night — but don’t expect much melting until daytime highs go above 32 degrees over the weekend.

Big Snow Returns To Big Apple, Elsewhere (Metropolis)
Here’s something else to look forward to during the wee hours on Wednesday morning: the possible return of the thundersnow! A super intense jetstream roaring high above our rooftops at more than 150 mph could give this storm just enough energy to create some lightning

Harbinger Investment Officer To Launch Own Hedge Fund (WSJ)
Lawrence M. Clark Jr., who resigned Friday, was a senior analyst who reported directly to Harbinger founder Philip Falcone and had been a Harbinger partner since 2005. He joined Harbinger in 2002. “This is the right time for me. I’m very comfortable with taking on the risk. This is entirely about what’s right for me and reflects in no way on Phil or Harbinger,” Mr. Clark said in an interview Monday afternoon.

Short the Rumor Pays 14% on Takeovers That Don’t Happen (Bloomberg)
Electronic news services, brokerages and newspapers reported at least 1,875 rumors about potential buyouts of 717 companies between 2005 and 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A total of 104, or 14.5 percent, were acquired, the data show. While stocks that were the subject of takeover speculation initially jumped 2.9 percent, betting on declines yielded average profits of 1.2 percent in the next month, an annualized gain of 14 percent.

Portugal: We Don’t Need Aid (WSJ)
Portugal “won’t ask for any financial help because it’s not necessary,” Prime Minister Socrates told reporters. He noted that Portugal has the means to deal with its own problems, citing its better-than-expected progress in reducing its budget deficit and higher-than-expected economic growth.

Cave Drops Hints To Earliest Glass Of Red (NYT)
Scientists have reported finding the oldest known winemaking operation, about 6,100 years old, complete with a vat for fermenting, a press, storage jars, a clay bowl and a drinking cup made from an animal horn.

Greek Minister: Crisis Is ‘Systemic’ For Europe (CNBC)
Greek Finance Minister George Papanconstantinou sought to reassure investors over the country’s debt burden on Tuesday, saying spreads between Greek and German bonds were high because of broader market turbulence rather than a real threat of default.

Could The Federal Reserve Become Insolvent? (Reuters)
Varadarajan Chari, an economics professor at the University of Minnesota and a consultant to the Minneapolis Fed, says that at some point during its exit from easy monetary policies, the Fed actually may go broke – at least on paper. “The most obvious exit strategy is, when inflation starts to pick up, to stop and reverse asset purchases,” he said. “That’s likely to include requiring the Fed in an accounting sense to see a significant accounting loss.”

Judges Berate Lawyers In Foreclosures (NYT)
In numerous opinions, judges have accused lawyers of processing shoddy or even fabricated paperwork in foreclosure actions when representing the banks. Judge Arthur M. Schack of New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn has taken aim at an upstate lawyer, Steven J. Baum, referring to one filing as “incredible, outrageous, ludicrous and disingenuous.”

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening/Closing/Holiday Bell: 12.24.10

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Insider Trading Plea-Case By Witness Unsealed (WSJ)
The documents unsealed Thursday relate to cooperating witness Karl Motey, a California-based investment consultant, and they provide insight into how he was ensnared in the investigation and within months began to help authorities in their probe into the activities of analysts, hedge funds and mutual funds, among others. The extent of Mr. Motey’s activity suggests that the insider-trading probe could expand in coming months. More arrests are expected next year. Mr. Motey was identified by The Wall Street Journal on Monday as a cooperating witness who taped conversations with employees and consultants of Primary Global Research LLC, a Mountain View, Calif., “expert-network” firm, in order to help federal investigators.

Goldman Adopts Long-Term Incentive Plan to Deter Risky Bets (Bloomberg)
The bank said it may grant bonuses that depend on future earnings, in addition to stock performance. The awards would go to “key employees” and be tied to a variety of financial measures including revenue, net income and return on equity, a gauge of profitability, the New York-based company said yesterday in a regulatory filing. Awards may consist of cash, securities or other equity-linked components, and carry provisions allowing their cancellation or return.

Whitney vs. Wall Street (NYP)
The week’s smackdown of Wall Street analyst Meredith Whitney continued unabated yesterday as more naysayers came out to challenge the star analyst’s recent comments that up to 50 to 100 US cities could default on their municipal bonds over the next 18 months. Matt McCall, president of Penn Financial Group, told Fox Business Network viewers that Whitney unnecessarily “spooked” the muni bond market.

Reindeer Like Rudolph Get Blitzen On Magic Mushrooms (The Sun)
Scientists have found that the animals regularly eat the mind-bending fly agaric fungi in the wild. And Rudolph, Donner, Blitzen and pals are often seen staggering around, making odd noises afterwards. Scientist Andrew Haynes believes reindeer deliberately seek out the mushrooms to escape the monotony of dreary long winters. Writing in the respected Pharmaceutical Journal, Mr Haynes said: “They have a desire to experience altered states of consciousness. “For humans a common side-effect of mushrooms is the feeling of flying, so it’s interesting the legend about Santa’s reindeer is they can fly.” He also said herdsmen drink the reindeer’s urine to get high themselves.

China Trade Minister Sees ‘Chronic’ Euro Debt Problem (Reuters)
Commerce Minister Chen Deming said the 750-billion-euro ($983 billion) rescue fund set up for crisis-hit EU nations and ongoing bond sales from these countries did not solve the problem as the money would have to be paid back at steep interest rates, the Shanghai Securities News quoted him as saying. “These measures just turn an acute disease into a chronic one, and it’s really hard to say whether these countries that are in deep trouble over the debt crisis can recover in the coming three or five years,” Chen was quoted as saying.

BlackRock Blames Credit Crisis for Clean-Energy Fund Outflows (Bloomberg)
“The new-energy market and related stocks were significantly impacted by the credit crisis,” Robin Batchelor, manager of the $2.9 billion BlackRock New Energy Fund, said in an e-mail. Reduced demand for energy and “the fact that governments were perceived to have many new worries on their agenda combined to create a difficult environment,” he said. New York-based BlackRock is the world’s largest money manager.

$750,000 Art Heist (NYP)
A sophisticated thief stole a home surveillance system — along with a gallery’s worth of Andy Warhol limited-edition prints and other artworks, high-end watches and jewelry — from the Meatpacking District apartment of a wealthy beef heir, sources said yesterday. Police declined to identify the victim, but sources said the heist was at the Ganesvoort Street home of Robert Romanoff, president of the Nebraska Meat Corp. His collection, which also included prints signed by Roy Lichtenstein and Carl Fudge’s original oil painting “Live Cat,” was pilfered sometime between Nov. 24 and Nov. 28.

Icahn Sued by Blockbuster Creditor Over Conversion of Equity (Bloomberg)
Icahn, his companies and investment funds including Icahn LP used “their position of power and inside information to sell their equity interests and essentially convert them into a potentially controlling” amount of debt because the notes allowed Icahn to gain control of Dallas-based Blockbuster “during and after it emerged from bankruptcy,” according to the filing.

Woman Found Dead At Home Of August Busch IV (STL)
A 27-year-old woman was found dead Sunday at a home owned by former Anheuser-Busch chief executive August Busch IV. Adrienne N. Martin, of St. Charles, was pronounced dead at 1:26 p.m., according to Suzanne McCune, administrator of the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office. McCune declined to release a cause of death. Toxicology and other tests could take a few weeks. “There will be some tests that take some time to get results and nothing is finalized,” McCune said. A law enforcement source told the Post-Dispatch that the death was initially being investigated as a possible overdose.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker