Weil on Finance: Twitter Tops Facebook
Happy Friday, View fans. And now time for your morning links.
There is no “Hastert Rule,” says Dennis Hastert
Yes, this is supposed to be a blog with links to cool stories about finance. And a story by some writer in Washington for National Journal about inside-baseball legislative politics shouldn’t come anywhere close to fitting said criteria. But this being the first week of a government shutdown, and government being the all-important force in finance and the capital markets nowadays, the truth is most investors can’t ignore the dingbats who run Congress. So here goes a story about the “Hastert Rule,” the gist of which is that a Republican House speaker supposedly shouldn’t bring anything to the floor for a vote unless a majority of Republicans support it, which is the excuse that the current House Speaker John Boehner may have been using to avoid having a House vote to end the government shutdown. But now Hastert himself, the former Republican House speaker, has come out of hiding to say there is no such rule and never was one, even though I’m almost positive that a lot of people in Congress wouldn’t believe him when he says this. So there.
Sign of the times for Steven A. Cohen
The billionaire’s hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, is under federal indictment on insider-trading charges. Outside clients have pulled their money. So SAC’s need for a Bermuda reinsurance company to secure more capital for the hedge fund to manage may not be as pressing as it once seemed to be, which brings us to this story: SAC is seeking a buyer for SAC Re Ltd., which Cohen formed only last year. Or the reinsurer could shut down. Dismantling an empire is never as fun as building it.
Only one class of shares for Twitter
Good point by Peter Kafka at All Things D, who notes that Twitter -– unlike media companies ranging from Google and Facebook to the New York Times –- won’t have a dual-class stock structure: “The messaging here is clear: `At Twitter,’ the company’s filing would like to say but can’t because it can’t actually speak, `we are way more responsive to shareholder interests than many of our peers.’” It also loses more money than many of its peers. But investors still love the old theme of investing in companies they know, and everybody with a computer knows Twitter. So this is bound to be another hot initial public offering. Just remember: No whining allowed if the stock craters shortly afterward. If you lose money taking a flyer on shares of Twitter, it’s your fault, not Twitter’s.
Channeling Ben Bradlee: When is somebody going to go on the record in this story?
The New York Times has a story about Wall Street firms preparing for a potential default by the government should Congress fail to raise the debt limit, but that’s not important right now. Instead check out the attribution on this sentence: “Wall Street remains confident that a deal to avert a default will materialize, according to interviews with senior executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of company policies against speaking to the media.” Which gets me thinking: (1) How do they or anyone else know what “Wall Street” thinks? (2) Didn’t these senior executives just violate their companies’ policies by speaking to the New York Times? And (3) If they’re really so senior, can’t these executives change their companies’ policies so they’re allowed to give interviews to reporters without having to hide their identities like wusses?
Playing blog pong with other blog pongers
Felix Salmon had kind things to say regarding my colleague Matt Levine’s post last week about credit-default swaps on the U.S. So I’ll post a link to Salmon’s blog where he said the nice things, because as every professional linkster must know, a lot of this linking business is transactional, meaning I link to you and then you link to me, etc. And it feels good because we give readers cool stuff to read. But it’s also just good business because we send clicks back and forth to each other, which I guess isn’t what we’re supposed to admit that we’re thinking about when we do it. But you get my drift. By the way, the post by Salmon is good. I mean it. Not kidding. Worth a click.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)