Daily Archives: November 23, 2015

These candidates are getting rich running for president

Yahoo Finance:

Here are rough estimates of the earnings of eight presidential candidates from select book sales in 2015. Totals for each author are highlighted in yellow:

Sources: Nielsen Bookscan, Amazon, Yahoo Finance estimates


Sources: Nielsen Bookscan, Amazon, Yahoo Finance estimates


Carl Icahn to Solicit Shareholder Support for AIG Breakup

Carl Icahn said he intends to begin a consent solicitation to give shareholders at American International Group Inc. the chance to express their views, a move he hopes will offer a mandate to force the insurer to consider his breakup plan.

The activist investor, who said he owns more than 42 million AIG shares, is pushing the giant insurer to pursue a split into three separate companies. A key part of his case is that if AIG were split up, each of the companies would be small enough to avert the “systemically important financial institution” designation.

Read on.

Banks eye less aggressive superintendent to lead NYDFS

It’s the Wall Street equivalent of Speaker of the House.

Regulating the big banks — a task that falls to the superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services — is getting a rep as one of the most thankless, unpopular and politically fraught jobs in the financial industry.

Five months after Ben Lawsky stepped down from the position, and with acting superintendent Anthony Albanese expected to leave at the end of this year, Gov. Cuomo is struggling to line up a permanent replacement to lead an office that has brought in billions to the state’s coffers, sources told The Post.

There are a couple of reasons why the position has gotten a bad rap recently.

First, potential candidates were turned off after reports surfaced last month that Cuomo was meddling with Albanese’s independence, such as demanding approval before subpoenas are issued in any investigation, sources said.

“It was always intended from the beginning that Mr. Albanese would be in the acting superintendent position on a temporary basis and that he would return to the private sector,” said Matt Anderson, a DFS spokesman.

“All enforcement decisions have been and are made independently by the Department of Financial Services.”

Read on.

A 1950s Superman Poster Says What We All Need To Hear About American Values Right Now

superman 1950.jpeg


This poster may date as far back as 1949, but its message is pretty relevant today.

Fear and prejudice in the wake of the Paris attacks makes this Cold War-era message as timely as ever.

The poster reads: “…And remember, boys and girls, your school — like our country — is made up of Americans of many different races, religions and national origins. So … if YOU hear anybody talk against a schoolmate or anyone else because of his religion, race or national origin — don’t wait: tell him THAT KIND OF TALK IS UN-AMERICAN.”

It’s not clear where this photo of the poster originated, though a post on Reddit and Imgur referenced it about a year ago. It also received a bump in April from the Twitter accountHistory In Pictures.

The fine print on the poster says it’s from 1956, but a 2008 auction listing for a non-color version on the Hake’s Americana & Collectibles website puts the copyright date at 1949. With a copyright for National Comics, the poster clearly predates the 1970s, when the company rebranded as DC Comics.

Read on.

“High Profile” CEO Of China Brokerage “Disappears”: “Company Says Can’t Find Him”


As we outlined in September, Beijing’s “kill the chicken to scare the monkey” campaign has brokers, hedgies, and even securities regulators so terrified, that one money manager said the following to his friend after being “summoned” by Chinese authorities: “If I don’t come back, look after my wife.”

Earlier this month, WSJ took a look at China’s case against Xu Xiang, who runs Shanghai-based Zexi Investment. Xu is accused of insider trading and stock manipulation and not only did Beijing detain him, they also froze his parents’ accounts. “After Xu Xiang was arrested, many people got nervous,” one fund manager told The Journal. “I don’t want to get arrested,” said another.

Around the same time the media picked up on the Xu story, another CSRC official was arrested in China. Yao Gang, vice chairman of the securities regulator, is now under investigation for graft, Reuters reported a little over a week ago, noting that Yao is the second official from the capital markets watchdog to come under scrutiny.

This is the backdrop against which Guotai’s Chairman and CEO Yim Fung went “missing” on November 18. 

New York AG Opens Probe Into Currency Manipulation

The New York Attorney General has opened an investigation into possible manipulation of options contracts tied to currencies of developing nations, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The regulator filed subpoenas last week to four brokers that operate platforms for trading the contracts: Tullett Prebon PLC, BGC Partners Inc., GFI Group Inc. and TFS-ICAP Ltd., the person said. The investigation was started after the attorney general’s office received a tip and is still at a preliminary stage, the person said.

The inquiries center on the alleged use of bids or offers by firms to bluff others into believing particular contracts had more buying and selling interest than they truly had, a practice also known as “ghosting” or “flying,” the person said. By increasing volume, brokers that operate trading platforms could gain more fees, the person said.

The office’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is leading the investigation. Representatives for the brokers who were sent subpoenas declined to comment.

Read on.

Fed’s Tarullo to Biggest Banks: Stress Tests Likely Will Get Harder

The Federal Reserve’s point man on bank regulation said the central bank’s annual stress tests are likely to get harder for the very largest banks.

Fed governor Daniel Tarullo said Monday that the Fed is likely to increase the minimum capital required for banks to pass the tests.

“I think there is a pretty good chance, in fact I think it’s more than a pretty good chance, that in the end of the day…there will be some net increase in the post-stress minimum capital requirements,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg TV.

That outcome has been among large banks’ biggest fears since this summer when the Fed raised capital requirements for eight of the largest U.S. banks. Those requirements apply during normal times, but the Fed left it unclear whether they would apply under the stress tests, which simulate a severe recession.

Firms such as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. already have shed or shrunk business lines and spent millions of dollars rebuilding internal systems in order to pass the current versions of the stress tests. By raising the “post-stress minimum,” the Fed effectively would be forcing them to take further actions to shed risky assets or raise more capital.

Read on.

Los Angeles Homeless Can Now Sleep in Cars & Public Buildings

This is really sad…

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Los Angeles leaders proposed a “state of emergency” and set aside $100 million in September for the city’s homelessness problem. And while city officials fell short of an official emergency declaration Tuesday, they enacted a “shelter crisis,” which includes initiatives that may help the city’s rampant homelessness problem.

Officials approved a program that would open up public buildings to the city’s homeless during upcoming winter nights, and allow the homeless to sleep in cars in certain parking lots. The City Council also softened a controversial law that allows authorities to seize the property of homeless people if it is stored on public sidewalks or in public alleys. Because of potential flooding caused by this winter’s El Niño warming pattern in the Pacific and a growing homeless population within the last year, officials have felt pressure to address the issue at the state and city level.

“There is no state of emergency, and there is no $100 million,” Gary Blasi, a lawyer with the group Public Council told the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Blasi, along with other critics, see the September state of emergency declaration as simply a “public relations” move.

International manhunt ends in arrest of field servicer provided services to one of the GSEs on child prostitution charges


[Editor’s note: The following story contains graphic details.]

Mickey Snow, the owner and operator of a multi-state field services provider that until recently provided services to one of the government-sponsored enterprises, was arrested in Thailand after leading authorities on a worldwide chase to avoid prosecution on child prostitution charges.

According to various media reports, Snow owns and operates Snow Enterprises, which operates in North Carolina, Florida and Kentucky. Snow Enterprises’ websitestates that the company provides appraisals, property inspections, property preservation, as well as other services.

Sources tell HousingWire that Snow Enterprises had a contract to provide services to one of the GSEs, until the sordid details that lead to Snow’s arrest first became public and the contract was canceled.

According to a report from Greensboro.com, Snow, 75, fled the country earlier this year after details of a child prostitution ring first shook the city of Eden, North Carolina in September.

The prostitution ring allegedly involved a mother pimping out her underage daughters to older men.

According to the Greensboro.com report, local police learned in early September that two teenage girls told the Department of Social Services they had been prostitutes since January 2013.

The report states that the girls said that their clients were older men and that their mother facilitated the deals.

From the Greensboro.com report:

Police that day charged their mother — 52-year-old Teresa Vanover of Carolina Avenue in Eden — with 24 counts of child abuse by prostitution and 24 counts of promoting prostitution.

The mother would take the girls to various men, who gave Vanover money in exchange for performing sex acts on the girls.

Inside the Money Laundering Scheme That Citi Overlooked for Years

When Antonio Peña Arguelles opened an account in 2005 at Citigroup’s Banamex USA, the know-your-customer documents said he had a small business breeding cattle and white-tailed deer, ranch-raised for their stately antlers. About $50 a month would come into the account, according to the documents.

A week later, Peña Arguelles wired in $7.09 million from an account in Mexico, allegedly drug money from Los Zetas, a violent cartel founded by former Mexican soldiers, documents in his money-laundering case in Texas say. In all, Peña Arguelles shuttled $59.4 million through the account, according to a confidential report by banking regulators that berated Banamex USA in 2013 for its failure to comply with anti-money-laundering rules.

Banamex USA didn’t file a suspicious activity report about the account, according to regulators, even after Peña Arguelles’s brother Alfonso was killed in late 2011, his body dumped at the Christopher Columbus monument in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, with a banner draped above it accusing Antonio of being a money launderer and stealing from the Zetas. The bank didn’t produce an activity report after U.S. prosecutors asked for the account documents at the end of that year or when Peña Arguelles was indicted in early 2012 for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. And it didn’t file one until May 2013, months after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the California Department of Business Oversight issued a written order in August 2012 demanding the bank check old accounts.

Read on.