It's Friday, which means it's time to reflect on the fact that Wall Street was able to successfully complete yet another week without causing a global financial crisis. It's been quite a run! Someone should hang up a sign like they do at factories: "36 days without a lost finger."
One theme that popped out from the financial news this week is how to handle all those enigmatic millennials and their love of "disrupting" everything. Goldman Sachs seems to have waved the white flag and allowed them to disrupt the whole way career paths used to work there.
The bank is promising to promote all analysts to associates after two years in a bid to prevent defections to the buy side, private equity and anyone else trying to lure them away, as Bloomberg's Michael Moore reported. This is a bit surprising, considering the revenue-per-employee numbers at Goldman (and, to be fair, most of their competitors) may have led one to believe they'd be looking to crack the whip instead.
The rainmakers just haven't been making it rain like they did before the financial crisis:
It must be tempting for the old hands at Goldman to roll their eyes at this news and engage in "back-in-my-day" stories about all-nighters collating pitch books at 85 Broad Street. These sort of sound like "participation promotions," just like the participation trophies given out to any kid who manages to show up for the soccer games on Saturday mornings.
But let's be honest here: This is the millennials' world now, and we olds just live in it, so why not give them what they want? After all, we owe them something. We've saddled their generation with a world full of rising sea levels, broke governments and a top presidential candidate who's so laughable that "Saturday Night Live" decided to just ask him to host the show himself instead of trying to find a suitable impersonator.
So congratulations, Goldman millennials! But alas, it was not all good news for the cord-cutting set and their disruptive ways this week.
The other big millennial-finance story was bitcoin, which had been rallying so hard it seemed like there once again must be somewhere online to buy drugs with it. The price of bitcoin had almost doubled in a month through Wednesday. But then came a major buzzkill in the form of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon who, in the parlance of the millennials, just #canteven when it comes to bitcoin.
He predicted at the Fortune Global Forum that the whole digital currency story will end in tears. It's hard to know how seriously to take Dimon when he's not wearing a tie, but bitcoin has dropped as much as 14 percent in the past two days, so it's a safe bet that he caught someone's attention.
Dimon's exact words, when asked if there will be a shadow economy where bitcoin is the coin of the realm, were:
It's just not going to happen. I mean you're wasting your time. When the DOJ calls someone up and says 'that's an illegal currency and it's against the laws of the United States and if you do it again we'll put you in jail,' it's over. There's no issue. This is my personal opinion: there will be no real noncontrolled currency in the world. There's no government that's going to put up with it for long. It's kind of cute now. A lot of the senators in Congress say, 'I support Silicon Valley innovation.' There will be no currency that gets around government controls. The technology will be used. It may even be used to transport currency, but it will be U.S. dollars.
That is quite a splash of cold water for bitcoin fans, but in the long run he's probably doing them a favor: It would be foolish not to believe Dimon stands a good chance of being right about this. After all, if there are two things this guy knows a lot about it's money and fielding calls from the Justice Department.
There is some irony here if he's right: The banks are swiftly commandeering the blockchain technology that underpins bitcoin, so the legacy of this whole monumental effort to disrupt the monetary and banking system may just end up that it helped fatten Wall Street's profit margins.
Dimon wasn't finished raining on the millennials' parade. We also learned from the Wall Street Journal this week of efforts by JPMorgan and Wells Fargo to restrict access to customer data for "aggregator" sites like Mint.com, which allow users to monitor all your most important financial data in one spot and are popular with the Chipotle generation.
You can't really blame the banks for the pushback, based on their reported rationale: The strain it puts on the banks' own servers and the security threat of putting all that sensitive data in one place.
Plus, sometimes an old just has to tell the youngsters to GET OFF MY LAWN!
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