Weil's Views on Finance, Afternoon Edition
Back for more fun with links. Here is some of what I've been reading today.
Do you know who is caring for your elderly relatives?
Pro Publica, in collaboration with Frontline, has a magnificent series about Emeritus Corp., which owns assisted-living facilities. Lots of horror stories, heartbreaking and thoroughly documented. It's a powerful display of investigative journalism. Some industries just don't mix well with the drive to maximize profits.
Herbalife refuses to cooperate with Bill Ackman's short thesis
Nathan Vardi of Forbes tells the story. One of the downsides of being loud and proud with a big short call is you wind up getting written about in articles like this one if the stock soars on you, at least if you're a famous hedge-fund manager. "This is a nightmare situation for Ackman’s Pershing Square hedge fund, which has put on a massive short on Herbalife’s stock that is in the $1 billion range, betting that the shares of the company would fall," he writes. "It remains possible that Ackman’s investment thesis will be proven right and regulators will deal Herbalife a death-blow and deem the company a pyramid scheme, but so far Ackman’s bet has hurt him this year." Memo to file: You can't rely on the government to make a short thesis come true.
More fun ahead for JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley
Carl Levin's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations wants a word with JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley about their dealings in physical commodity markets, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people it agreed not to cite by name. This means there's hope for an investigation that's run competently. The panel also is seeking information from the Federal Reserve, which inexplicably let the banks get into this business.
"Electricity market rules did not provide a worthy opponent for JPMorgan's brainpower."
So says the always entertaining Matt Levine of Dealbreaker, commenting on today's settlement between JPMorgan Chase and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And he's right: "FERC built a terrible box, and the box had buttons that were labeled `push here for money,' and JPMorgan pushed them and got money."
The truth about Publicis Groupe's deal with Omnicom
From the Onion, America's finest news source: "In a historic announcement that analysts say marks major changes for the advertising industry, senior leadership at Omnicom Group, Inc. and Publicis Groupe SA outlined plans on Sunday to merge the advertising giants into one firm, bringing together the largest collection of people with no discernible skills whatsoever." Good stuff.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)