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Oct 25, 2012
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Lazard advises Wall Street on how to take the pain

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Lazard is showing Wall Street how to take the pain. The M&A advisory and asset-management firm will slice off $125 million of expenses, or some 8 percent of the total, by the end of the year. That means Christmas has come early for investors, chiefly activist Nelson Peltz, though not for some of Lazard’s employees. While the firm still shells out more on its staff than rivals, the move is consistent with Chief Executive Ken Jacobs’ goal to boost shareholder returns.

Oct 22, 2012
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Goldman exposé doesn’t go according to plan

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Goldman Sachs exposé by a disgruntled former trader hasn’t gone quite according to plan. Greg Smith, who quit the bank earlier this year by publishing an op-ed in the New York Times, doesn’t blow the lid on anything new or untoward about Goldman or even the industry. The real revelation is what his tenure says about the firm’s apparent erosion of employment standards.

Oct 12, 2012
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Review: Bairing the strain of failed regulation

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

There is one clear and simple message from “Bull by the Horns,” Sheila Bair’s account of her five years in charge of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp: financial regulators still need a good kick up the backside. Bair is not one to pull her punches – she delivers her poor opinion of several financial CEOs in the first couple of pages of her tell-all, and doesn’t stop there in her critiques of America’s banking system.

Oct 11, 2012
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Wall Street, City pay still must fall by a third

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By Antony Currie and Richard Beales
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own. This view has been updated to reflect refined inputs to the Breakingviews calculator.

James Gorman is right that investment banking is overstaffed and overpaid, as he told the Financial Times last week. But neither the Morgan Stanley boss nor his global peers have proven adept at taking action. Last year, total wages at securities firms that are members of the New York Stock Exchange and the average pay per employee in New York increased even as industry profit fell, according to a report this week from the state’s comptroller.

Oct 2, 2012
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Maybe Jamie Dimon wasn’t so clever with Bear

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By Antony Currie

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Maybe Jamie Dimon wasn’t so clever with Bear Stearns after all. Back in March 2008, the JPMorgan chief executive looked pretty shrewd picking up the collapsed investment bank on the cheap, even after raising his offer five-fold to $10 a share. Dimon stuffed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with $29 billion of Bear’s worst-looking mortgage assets. Not only did those securities wind up making money, but a new lawsuit filed by New York’s top lawman shows that JPMorgan didn’t cover all its bases.

Sep 19, 2012
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Goldman’s Mr. 25 Standard Deviation hard to follow

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Goldman Sachs’ Mr. 25 Standard Deviation was a Wall Street rarity. Despite an outlandish 2007 characterization of the crisis – “We were seeing things that were 25-standard deviation events, several days in a row” – that raised concerns he didn’t understand fat-tail risks, David Viniar played a big role saving his bank from the mortgage rout and was the blue-moon banker who succeeds as a chief financial officer. He’ll be a tough act to follow.

Sep 17, 2012
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U.S. Treasury stake not the millstone GM makes out

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

General Motors’ Dan Akerson deserves an A for effort. The automaker’s chief executive and his colleagues reckon the U.S. government’s 26.5 percent ownership hurts the Motown manufacturer’s image and its ability to hire people. But it’s not the millstone they make out.

Aug 10, 2012
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Goldman takes 2 legal steps forward, 700 mln back

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It was a bittersweet Thursday for Goldman Sachs. The Wall Street powerhouse received a double dose of good news from Washington, a rare and welcome event for investors and Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein. First, the Securities and Exchange Commission dropped an investigation into a pre-crisis, Goldman-arranged $1.3 billion mortgage bond deal. Second, the U.S. Department of Justice decided it wouldn’t file criminal charges over the now-infamous Abacus deal. Yet Goldman was also forced to concede its legal worries are far from over. 

Reserves stockpiled for litigation expenses jumped by a quarter, from $2.7 billion to $3.4 billion, between March and June. That’s a big leap given that the last time the SEC pursued Goldman – over the Abacus transaction – the settlement stung the bank for a cool $550 million. 

Jul 27, 2012
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Jamie Dimon to Sandy Weill: drop dead

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Jamie Dimon’s management shake-up doesn’t just send a message to the bank’s employees and shareholders. The timing of the move – and the language in the announcement – serves as the JPMorgan chief executive’s response to the reignited debate over the structure of big financial institutions like his. Dimon lauded the idea of knitting JPMorgan’s parts together more tightly just as his former mentor Sandy Weill converted to the breakup cause. 

The JPMorgan reorganization has almost certainly been plotted for some time. But it’s also impossible to see the bank’s statements about “further unifying businesses around customer needs” and its “integrated approach” without reading into them a riposte to Weill’s arguments on Wednesday to separate commercial and investment banking from one another. It sure sounds like a raspberry from Dimon, whose working relationship with the modern Citigroup architect ended bitterly. 

Jul 26, 2012
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M&A Davids wallop Wall Street Goliaths

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By Antony Currie
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Size used to matter in M&A. That’s no longer the case. Dealmaking Davids are walloping the Goliaths. 

    • About Antony

      "Antony Currie has more than a decade of experience as a financial journalist, having worked with Euromoney since 1996, most recently as a U.S. editor. He has worked on assignments in the major financial centers of Europe and the U.S. and written stories on capital markets, global economies and the investment banking industry. He holds a bachelor's degree in German language and literature and a master's degree in politics and international relations from the University of Bristol."
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