Banks poured billions into China banks, eyeing a foothold in a potentially lucrative company. But the promise began to fade over the past year or so, just as the need for more capital stepped up. Just like that, banks started to exit their large positions.
In a much-needed boost to the M&A market, Verizon is inching closer to buying Vodafone's the 45 percent stake in its wireless unit for a whopping $130 billion. The deal is so sweeping that just about all major investment banks have their hands in the pie in some way, either as deal advisors, debt bankers, or in some other capacity. Some $60 billion debt will need to be issued to finance the deal.
There are only a few people in a firm that can dress like a slob and get away with it. They tend to be at the very top. Their fashion peccadilloes can even be cool.
When it comes to the probe of JPMorgan's hiring of so-called "princelings" in China, the conventional wisdom has been that the charges were not likely to be forthcoming. All banks hire the sons and daughters of influential people, the argument went. This is bound to add up to little. But can it be that a smoking gun exists?
It would be surprising if the SEC's probe into the hiring of "princelings" in China will amount to much. The reality is that hiring the offspring of influential kids has been going on forever.
In terms of sheer tawdriness, this exceeds even the case of William Bryan Jennings, the Morgan Stanley executive who was charged with stabbing a cab driver while uttering hate speech near his home in Darien.
The tragic death of Moritz Erhardt, an intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London, has sparked some hand-wringing about the intern work culture at top banks. In the wake of any workplace tragedy, calls for some sort of reform are understandable. They will be heard. In this case, it would perhaps be unwise to conclude that all interns are being worked into the ground at all banks.
Recall that in the dot.com days, Internet stock analysts essentially became part of the investment banking team. The client could rest assured that the underwriter's analysts would be on their side, making clear to the world what a great investment the company would make. It got way out of hand, and when the bubble burst, banks agreed to a "global settlement" that imposed some restrictions that sought to keep the analysts objective and erect some walls between research and underwriting.
"We are on the precipice of a seismic down-sizing on Wall Street, the likes of which have never occurred before." So says Meredith Whitney, the independent analyst who isn't afraid of bold pronouncements.
If you were to read The Buyside, which I highly recommend, you might get the idea that Wall Street was a awash with salesmen who used drugs, alcohol and sex to get (and keep) clients in the truck. The real marketing in the hedge fund industry was a seamy sort of exercise, certainly not anything that could be literally described on an expense report. Those who are prone to addiction might find the environment especially challenging, if they were to think about it.