Sorry for Comments About Sterling We Didn’t Make: Opening LineC. Thompson
Nothing but questions here since the scandal that sprung up over the weekend around Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Not to be naive, but are we all certain that’s him on the tape? Yeah, well, listening to both that audio clip and a random YouTube clip of Sterling being interviewed, it does sound like the same voice. There’s also a linear progression in the conversation with his lady friend in the “black people” tape that seems to defy suggestions the audio was edited.
Not to be cynical either, but are we all surprised that an 80-year-old billionaire holds views like these? (Yes, there are broke 20-year-olds with the same attitudes.) Marge Schott wasn’t a billionaire nor 80, but close enough.
OK, fine. Not all 80-year-old billionaires hold these views, but this one has been pretty much proven to have them. (We consider sworn court testimony as “pretty much proven.") Wouldn’t be surprised if Sterling vacations with Cliven Bundy.
Has anyone spoken to David Stern this weekend? What was he doing for almost 30 years as the NBA’s commissioner while Sterling was compiling an audition reel for ‘‘Django Unchained"? Because when you review his record -- including him being federally prosecuted for racism -- you have to wonder why and how he has skirted any league action until now.
You also have to wonder what the Los Angeles NAACP was thinking when they decided to award Sterling their lifetime achievement award, which they were planning to do next month. They aren’t now, according the NAACP’s Twitter feed, but still, did anyone read the file? What was that about?
Lastly, Sterling’s statement notes that he ‘‘apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt” by comments that he nonetheless disavows. Who “might have been” hurt? You’re not sure? Not really convinced the comments are hurtful but just covering that base in case?
They hurt, Dick. Sorry -- we mean Don.
Pending home sales is the only U.S. economic indicator of note today. But you guys are tuned into these deals. Pfizer’s going to make another run at AstraZeneca, offering 58.8 billion pounds, which we tried to convert into dollars but it broke our machine. Bayer is weighing the sale of its plastics business, which one analyst valued at almost $11 billion. And Siemens is trying to throw a wrench into the GE-Alstom deal which, by the way, won’t be opposed by the French government.
At least 17 people are now confirmed dead after a tornado gouged its way across Arkansas and into Oklahoma. NBC News puts the toll at 18. National Guard troops are moving into the hardest hit areas. Sparking some controversy overnight was this video, taken by a man who appears to have arrived on the scene of destruction just minutes after the tornado came through: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMLpLN-aUd0
We warn you, the baby’s screams will unnerve you, as it did the scores of people who condemned the videographer on his Facebook page, where this originally appeared, for shooting video instead of helping. (Note: YouTube won’t open within the Bloomberg system, for some reason we don’t fully understand. You’ll need to use a separate browser.)
Evidently the options market hasn’t gotten the memo. Technology stocks are getting beat up, the Nasdaq 100 is lurching around -- now significantly below its 50-day moving average -- and yet options prices seem unfazed.
The Nasdaq 100 lost 4.8 percent since reaching a 14-year high on March 5, including a 3.1 percent drop on April 10 that was the biggest single-day retreat since November 2011, Joe Ciolli and Callie Bost report today.
Normally a move that big would raise the cost of options, prices that are represented by a value known as implied volatility. The Chicago Board Options Exchange NDX Volatility Index has posted five gains of 10 percent or more since the start of March, yet it’s still at almost its lowest level relative to actual price swings in more than a year, they write.
Perhaps not for long, although Chris Nagi is able to explain why the correlation isn’t there right now.
“Even though you repeatedly get these wrenching selloffs, you don’t necessarily get the kind of corresponding rise” in the options, Nagi, managing editor for stocks coverage in the U.S., tells us. “As these things become more common, you get a slightly more measured reaction to them, where people view them less as a harbinger of market doom than sort of symptoms of a rotation.
‘‘Another interpretation is that people at the moment who really need to get out of the highest-flying Nasdaq stocks have done so. There isn’t an enormous demand to hedge because a lot of the people who would be natural hedgers have already bailed out.’’
As we await the announcement of more sanctions on Russia, expected today, divisions have emerged over how strong the next actions should be and whether they should push beyond what the EU is proposing. Obama is sticking with a united front for now. Meanwhile the capture and parading of international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has put a grim face on this crisis.
It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day today, although we’re not sure why every day isn’t, and to mark the occasion, Abbas issued a statement denouncing the atrocity. This didn’t impress Netanyahu. Perhaps more importantly, Abbas said the new Palestinian government to be formed following the reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah will recognize Israel. Which is a start.
Gurbaksh Chahal, until Saturday the chief executive of RadiumOne, tells Heather Perlberg and Cory Johnson today the company pressured him to accept a plea deal on domestic-battery charges to keep the company’s initial public offering on track, then he was fired anyway.
There will be a special three-hour edition of Market Makers today to accommodate the load of guests they’ve lined up, who Bloomberg Television. Not sure if you get BTV? Check here.
You’d think a doctor who lost his license to practice medicine in one state would find doors closed to him in other states, and you’d think that losing his license anywhere would be enough to make him ineligible to bill Medicare, but you’d be wrong on both counts.
While admittedly a fraction of the $44 billion Medicare has estimated went toward improper payments in 2012 (which, really, is insane), the $5.3 million doled out to seven doctors traced by David Armstrong and Caroline Chen is stunning considering they have records of embezzlement, sexual assault, violating laws on prescription drugs, gross malpractice and, in one case, the implication in the death of a patient.
As our reporters find, though, it was easy -- or at least possible -- for these doctors to become licensed in another state after losing a license elsewhere. What’s more, it’s not automatic that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services blacklist a doctor for losing a license. It’s discretionary.
Really? It’s just a call someone makes? This is government?
Stay tuned around 3 p.m. New York time today for the announcement of the world’s 50 best restaurants. Bloomberg chief food critic Richard Vines is chairman of the U.K. and Ireland panel that contributes to the selections, and this year he explains how the process works and how, really, it’s subjective to the point of being fashion more than science.
In the end, he says, ‘‘what the list does is to provide a snapshot of the establishments that are in favor with restaurant-business insiders who dine out regularly.”
Every year we wait to see if Pat’s King of Steaks finally makes the list. Every year we’re heartbroken. And hungry.
What our coworkers do in their spare time is fascinating. Here in the newsroom we have a couple of drummers, colleagues who run marathons in times approaching elite status, a stocks editor who’s a site manager for his local church youth organization (not sure what that entails), and a few first-class fly fishermen.
Then there’s David Papadopoulos.
The first time we read one of his horse-racing handicapping stories, we almost choked on our morning Lasix. Where the hell did that come from?, we wondered.
The joy of these pieces is how he combines indisputable knowledge with hilarious self-doubt. You’ve never read a handicapper so clearly in command of the facts and so flummoxed by them. Which is perfect, because that makes him like the rest of us.
With the start of racing’s Triple Crown season approaching, he’s back with a profile of California Chrome, “an imposing chestnut colt” who breezed to the finish at Santa Anita on April 5 and who looks almost too good to be true. Which is the point of David’s piece today.
However, as the saying goes in our business, past performance is no guarantee of future results.