Weil on Finance: SAC Capital’s Deal
Greetings, Viewfinders. Here are your morning links.
What’s next for Steven Cohen?
Saijel Kishan and Katherine Burton of Bloomberg News put SAC Capital’s guilty-plea deal into perspective for its founder, Steven A. Cohen: “While yesterday’s settlement crushes Cohen’s dreams of joining the ranks of Buffett and Soros, he will still be worth around $7.2 billion after paying his fine. More important, he will still be able to do what he’s loved since his college days -- trading.” Yeah, somehow I think Cohen will find a way to get through all of this (unless prosecutors find something new on him).
James Stewart of the New York Times says SAC Capital “may emerge as a textbook case for prosecuting companies.” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page bemoans “the unsatisfying result of Mr. Cohen, who remains a multibillionaire, going on his way after agreeing to a hefty fee.” Also, David Glovin and Patricia Hurtado of Bloomberg News profile David Slaine, the informant whose tips got the government’s SAC investigation started.
Who’s buying Italian government bonds?
Italians banks are, and they have absorbed about all that they can, Reuters reports: “Italian banks are near saturation point after two years spent frantically buying their own government's bonds, forcing the Treasury to find alternative investors at home and abroad to finance a 2-trillion euro debt.” Now it will be up to the European Central Bank to decide how much more the Italian banks can take on, which is a big deal because if Italy goes to pot then so does the entire euro area. The sovereign-banking nexus is nowhere close to being broken yet.
Japan’s missing wall of money
Liberty Street Economics, the blog run by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, has a new post about the open-ended asset-purchase program started early this year by Bank of Japan. “Market commentary at that time suggested that flooding the economy with liquidity would lead to a `wall of money’ flowing out of Japan in search of higher yields, affecting asset prices worldwide,” the New York Fed’s head of international research, Thomas Klitgaard, writes. Here’s why he says this didn’t happen: “Monetary expansion will not cause a surge in financial outflows unless it also induces a similar surge in capital flowing into the country.”
When pollution helps privacy and hurts police
China’s smog troubles are well known, as are the health problems it brings. But now it’s gotten so bad that it threatens the police’s ability to use surveillance cameras to spy on people on every major street in big cities, reports the South China Morning Post. So maybe there’s a silver lining for people who don’t like Big Brother watching their every move: “Existing technology, such as infrared imaging, can help cameras see through fog or smoke at a certain level, but the smog on the mainland these days is a different story. The particles are so many and so solid, they block light almost as effectively as a brick wall.”
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)