Another week slipped by on Wall Street, and it was a quiet one. For summer, that is.
And thank goodness. All the scandals, all the negative news, all the time, always something. I'm getting tired of writing so much.
It's my summer too, you know.
So, when my extraordinary good fortune led me into the company of a spectacular woman this past week, I escaped the Street reality, enjoyed the beach, the Hamptons… and did I mention a spectacular woman?
But just because I was out of touch (from reality) last week doesn't mean the surreal wasn't spilling out all over the Street.
Okay, so it was little stuff, but it's still stuff. And it's still surreal…
Like finding out that Vikram Pandit, CEO of that little banking outfit Citigroup, got paid more last year than the bank paid in taxes.
That's news you ask? No. Granted, we know that all those poor banks that suffered deep losses on account of a lot of sore-loser homebuyers who got the Street mantra wrong (it's "buy high, sell low," right?) won't have big tax bills for a while because they saddled the good-guy banks with huge tax loss carry-forwards.
Besides, Vik (can I call you that?) deserves it.
Can you imagine all the negative press he gets? He deserves more; I say give it to him and the other banksters who have to work so hard to keep their jobs while their firms don't have to work nearly as hard to not pay taxes.
And then I heard that Jon Corzine was thinking about yet another career move.
Yeah, that Jon Corzine. He, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, former senator and former governor of New Jersey, former head honcho at some sad outfit that sadly didn't make it after paying him $8 million last year… what's that company's name? Oh yeah, MF Global.
I don't remember what the MF stands for, but I think the firm's old customers know.
Well, J.C. (can I call you that?) thinks he's similar to that other J.C. fellow, and can walk on water too. He wants to maybe start a hedge fund.
I'd trust him. After all, he was a U.S. senator, you know. A man of the people. I hope he does it. I have some loose change I'd throw him. Why not? He runs a loose show and knows how to change people's lives. (Just ask his customers, who know what MF stands for.)
Yeah, like I said, it was a slow news week on the Street.
Wait, I almost forgot. That's because it's not news. Some bank somewhere is always "settling" with some idiot regulator who just wants to make his own career moves, or wants to fill the coffers of his own loose regulatory body's cavity.
Apparently, and I know you're going to just yawn, another bank was caught in a regulatory vice and had a fine extorted from it for doing nothing wrong.
Oh, the humanity! Will these poor banks ever be left alone to go back to doing J.C.'s work?
Standard Chartered, a little outfit (NOT) that was just keeping up good customer relations, had the unfortunate bad luck of getting caught naked.
Well, not exactly naked, not in the way you're thinking. Naked as in the "wire stripping" transactions it was processing for our closest ally (at least it used to be) in the Middle East, Iran.
I know, it's no big deal. They hid the fact that they were doing business through New York for Iranian businesses and maybe some "organizations." So what.
I mean, so what, they got caught. They ended up paying (I mean settling) a small fine (tip money, really) of $340 million to yet another regulatory extortionist ring.
I feel sorry for them. Why? Because now that their nakedness has been exposed, they're being sued by the estate of the U.S. marines killed in Lebanon in 1983.
What? Yeah, it appears that some lawyers think that the innocent bank (they never admit or deny, so they're innocent, you know), because it may have facilitated some interests inimical to the U.S., could have been responsible for that former ally not making good on a judgment rendered against it by a federal court in Washington, demanding it pay the Marines' families and estates some $2.6 billion.
Anyway, you're probably scratching your head and saying to yourself, "Boy, Shah must be desperate to find anything newsworthy this week, he's bringing up stuff from 1983!"
Sorry, that's what happens in the summer on Wall Street. There's nothing new. It's always the same.
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About the Author
Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.
The work he did laid the foundation for what would later become the VIX - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.
Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.
Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.
Today, as editor of Hyperdrive Portfolio, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with massive profit opportunities that result from paradigm shifts in the way we work, play, and live.
Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and MarketWatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's Varney & Co.