Monthly Archives: December 2015

Buying into Showtime’s new Wall Street drama, ‘Billions’

Between takes on the set of “Billions,” Damian Lewis is standing amid a sea of Bloomberg computer terminals singing Hall & Oates to no one in particular. “Because your kiss, your kiss, is on my list,” croons the actor, clad in jeans, Pumas and a gray buttondown.

But don’t let the breezy vibe fool you: In the drama, Lewis plays a cutthroat hedge fund manager and self-made billionaire named Bobby “Axe” Axelrod whose extraordinary track record arouses the suspicions of a combative U.S. attorney, Chuck Rhoades, played by Paul Giamatti. Rhoades’ righteous zeal is tempered somewhat by a giant conflict of interest at home: His wife, Wendy (Maggie Siff), just so happens to be the in-house shrink and performance coach at Axelrod’s firm, Axe Capital.

The series, premiering Jan. 17 on Showtime and co-created by New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, arrives more than seven years after the financial crisis, at a time when anger at Wall Street remains a potent force in American culture, fueling campaigns for the White House (Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont) and Academy Awards (“The Big Short”).

Though it is set in a post-crash universe, “Billions” suggests that greed, ego and corruption are still alive and well in the financial industry. “Part of the goal of this show is to help spur conversation and debate around some of these larger issues of inequality,” Sorkin said, “around the 1% and the 99%.”

Read on.

Judge halts evictions of 3 families in foreclosure case

Three families facing evictions following tax foreclosures won a reprieve Wednesday when a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order halting the action for 14 days.

The order from U.S. District Judge Judith Levy comes amid a controversy involving several Wayne County suburbs that acquired tax-foreclosed properties from the county before its annual fall auction and resold them to developers.

Eighteen affected families filed suit Monday. Levy said the case raises “federal constitutional issues, violations of due process and equal protection,” but she only has jurisdiction in three cases whose owners hadn’t yet had eviction cases filed against them in local courts.

Another hearing is set Jan. 13.

Read on.

Is Nationstar about to completely rebrand itself?

It’s been a tough year for Nationstar Mortgage.

The company’s financial performance has left investors wanting, the company has seen several of its senior executives leave, and the company’s signature move of 2015, the transformation of Solutionstar, one of Nationstar’s wholly owned subsidiaries, into Xome, which boasted that it was “the world’s first integrated, end-to-end digital platform for real estate, with the promise of connecting every major touch point in the transaction process, from finding a home to closing the deal,” has underwhelmed.

But does the company have big plans to turn its fortunes? It certainly looks that way.

Buried deep on Nationstar’s website in a most unlikely place is a look at what the company could be planning for 2016. And it’s big…as in reshaping the company’s entire public image big.

The look into Nationstar’s plans is actually found on a job posting on the company’s job board. The job? Content writer. And the posting provides a glimpse into Nationstar’s future.

Read on.

Martin Shkreli’s KaloBios Files Chapter 11: Full Bankruptcy Filing

Poetic justice for the pill guy…


In its bankruptcy filing, KBIO lists $8.4 million in assets and $1.9 milion in debt.


How did the company’s truncated board decide on a Chapter 11 filing? From the filing:

Effective as of this 29th day of December, 2015, pursuant to a special telephonic meeting on the same date, the board of directors (collectively, the “Board of Directors”) of KaloBios Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Delaware corporation (the “Corporation”), upon a motion duly made and acting pursuant to the Corporation’s organizational documents, took the following actions and adopted the following resolutions:


WHEREAS, the Board of Directors has considered information regarding the liabilities and liquidity of the Corporation, the strategic alternatives available to the Corporation, and the impact of the foregoing on the Corporation’s business; and


WHEREAS, the Board of Directors has had the opportunity to consult with the Corporation’s management and financial and legal advisors to fully consider each of the strategic alternatives available to the Corporation; and


WHEREAS, the Board of Directors has been presented with a proposed petition to be filed by the Corporation in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (the “Bankruptcy Court”) seeking relief under the provisions of chapter 11 of title 11 of the United States Code, 11 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq. (as amended, the “Bankruptcy Code”); and


WHEREAS, the Board of Directors desires to approve the following resolutions


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that in the judgment of the Board of Directors, it is desirable and in the best interests of the Corporation, the creditors of the Corporation, and other interested parties that a voluntary petition (the “Petition”) be filed in the Bankruptcy Court by the Corporation to initiate a bankruptcy case (the “Chapter 11 Case”) under the provisions of chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code;




Man at center of Peyton Manning HGH scandal is an alleged real estate fraudster


The scandal stems from a report from Al Jazeera, which claimed that a former British hurdler named Liam Collins went undercover to pull back the curtain on supposedly rampant HGH use among American professional athletes.

The scandal roped in Manning by claiming that he had HGH delivered to his wife, which he then may or may not have used himself.

Manning has vociferously denied these claims, telling ESPN: “It stings me, whoever this guy is, to insinuate that I cut corners, I broke NFL rules in order to get healthy,” Manning said, reiterating that he did not use HGH. “It’s a joke. It’s a freaking joke.”

The reports initial claims now rest on somewhat shaky ground, especially since Collins’ main source on the story, Charlie Sly, may not have even worked at the clinic in question during the time that HGH was supposedly sent to Manning’s wife.

And more about Collins’ past is also coming to light as well, including getting into some legal trouble in England for real estate fraud.

Collins’ criminal real estate history was initially spotted by Business Insider in an article in which Sly claims he made up the entire story about Manning and other athletes using HGH to test whether Collins actually knew what he was talking about.

The Business Insider article provides some more details on Collins’ past, including a stint on “Britain’s Got Talent,” and an accusation of real estate fraud.

According to a report from the website (cited by Business Insider), Collins was banned from directing a company in England for 14 years and ordered to repay millions of dollars after being accused of real estate fraud.

Here’s a little more on Collins’ real estate history from

Liam James Collins gained national fame as a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 as part of the dance duo ‘Faces of Disco’ – the 34-year-old and his cousin and business partner David Bone amassed £874,000 from unsuspecting members of the public.

Investors were promised returns as high as 10 per cent on their investment in the ‘Collins and Bone’ property scheme, which purported to make money out of buying and renovating houses to rent to students.

Julius Baer earmarks extra $200 million provisions to resolve U.S. tax case

Swiss private bank Julius Baer (>> Julius Baer Gruppe AG) said it has set aside nearly $200 million in additional provisions to settle a U.S. criminal investigation that it helped wealthy American clients dodge taxes.

Baer said it had reached an agreement in principle with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York regarding the financial component of the case, drawing a line under one of the biggest uncertainties facing Switzerland’s third-largest listed bank.

The new provision brings the total amount earmarked to cover potential penalties in the case to $547.25 million which the bank said will be charged to its 2015 full-year results.

Baer said in a statement that it still expects to post a net profit for the current financial year.

Read on.

Then there were 12:George Pataki drops out of Republican race


While tonight I suspend my campaign for president, I am confident we can elect the right person. 

Barclays : in $13.75 million U.S. settlement over mutual funds

(Reuters) – Barclays Plc will pay more than $13.75 million to settle U.S. regulatory charges that it let retail brokerage customers make unsuitable mutual fund transactions, including more than 6,100 fund switches, over a five-year period.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on Tuesday said the London-based bank’s Barclays Capital Inc unit will pay more than $10 million in restitution, including interest, to affected customers, and was fined $3.75 million.

Barclays did not admit or deny wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, which includes a censure. A spokesman had no immediate comment.

Read on.

Larry Summers: Sanders right on Wall Street influence at Fed

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is right when he says the current setup of the Federal Reserve is overly influenced by the banking industry, according to one of President Obama’s former top economic advisers.

Larry Summers, who once advised Obama on economic matters and was a potential candidate to head the central bank, wrote Tuesday that Sanders’s plan to overhaul the Fed had plenty of good ideas. But he warned that Fed critics on the left like Sanders could be lending ammunition to the large number of conservatives that want to change the Fed to their liking.

“I think that Sanders is right in his central point that financial policy is overly influenced by financial interests to its detriment and that it is essential that this be repaired,” he wrote in The Washington Post. “At the same time, reform requires careful reflection if it is not to be counterproductive.”

Earlier this month, Sanders wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for structural changes to the Fed. He argued that the Fed’s recent move to raise rates, which he criticized as premature and harmful to average Americans, was a sign the Fed was too heavily influenced by bankers.

He called for a host of changes to make it tougher for the banking industry to find a foothold in the Fed and to hand more power to policymakers in filling out Fed positions normally chosen by bankers.

Read on.


The Vermont Attorney General will distribute $180,000 to Vermont Legal Aid and $10,000 to the Vermont Judiciary as part of a settlement with Bank of America.

The settlement resolves claims that Bank of America “did not live up to the terms of agreements” made with homeowners during foreclosure proceedings, according to the AG.

Vermont Legal Aid will use the money to hire attorneys to represent Vermonters in foreclosure actions for the next three years. The judiciary will develop a website to improve information for homeowners who are representing themselves in court.

Read on.