Felix Salmon

Annals of white-collar crime, James Altucher edition

February 28, 2011

Rupert Murdoch is one of the most successful businessmen in the world. But his company is being buffetted hard by ethics scandals — phone hacking in the UK, and Roger Ailes allegedly suborning perjury in the US. It’s right and proper this should be the case: the allegations are extremely serious, and involve people very high up in the corporate structure. News Corp might still carry its founder’s aggressive and entrepreneurial DNA, but that’s no excuse, and in any case there are lots of aggressive entrepreneurs who never commit these kind of crimes.

18 questions for Martin Erzinger

December 31, 2010

M Schuler of Colorado leaves a blistering comment on my post about Martin Erzinger, the Morgan Stanley broker who bought his way out of a felony charge. It’s required reading for anybody who is inclined to believe Erzinger’s defense, that he fell asleep at the wheel, drifted off the road, and never had a clue that he’d hit anybody.

Why Martin Erzinger’s victim doesn’t need his money

December 22, 2010

Remember Martin Erzinger, the Morgan Stanley broker who bought his way out of a felony charge? He’s been sentenced now—a year’s probation, and 45 days of charity work. (Some people do that kind of thing voluntarily, and don’t consider it a punishment at all.) And Al Lewis has a magnificent column on the case, which uncovers an interesting twist: Erzinger’s victim, Steven Milo, is the son-in-law of Tom Marsico. Yes, that Tom Marsico, the one with $55 billion in assets under management.

How to buy your way out of a felony charge

November 8, 2010

One of the main contributing factors to the financial crisis was the feeling of impunity and omnipotence which pervaded Wall Street. No matter how egregious their behavior, financiers knew that they would end up wealthy and comfortable. That, in turn, made it much easier to overcome their natural risk aversion.

Ben Stein’s employer breaks the law

April 5, 2010

April 2 was meant to be a great day in the history of sleazy free-credit-report websites like Ben Stein’s employer Freescore. A new FTC rule came into effect (read all 22 pages of it here), forcing all such websites to have a huge notice across the top of every web page, saying that AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source for credit reports under federal law, and providing a prominent link to this page.

Inside a not-bailed-out bank

March 22, 2010

People have many legitimate reasons to have a grievance against their bank. In fact, it’s rare to find someone who hasn’t been extremely angry at their bank at some point. But rarely is there a case as clear-cut as this one, from Aaron Elstein:

Dead Bankers

February 16, 2010

I was off the grid for most of the long weekend, which allowed me to curl up with a pulpy thriller for the first time in many, many years. I’m by no means an expert on the genre, but if you’re a reader of this blog and you like such things then there’s a good chance that Dead Bankers, a novel by Philip Delves Broughton, might be exactly for you; there’s a paperback version here if you don’t have a Kindle.

Why harsh white-collar sentences make sense

December 21, 2009

Matthew Kelley asks whether the 14-year sentence for the former head of El Paso Corp.’s natural gas trading business isn’t excessive; my feeling is that it makes a certain amount of sense.

Lawless Russia

December 16, 2009

Just in case you were feeling all happy about the book giveaway, let me bring you down to earth by pointing you to Law and Order in Russia, a website set up by Hermitage Capital Management in memory of their noble Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. Do read his story, it’s horrific, and I hope it shames the Russian government to do more than simply fire major general Anatoly Mikhalkin of the Moscow Interior Ministry (although that’s a good start).