Weil's Views on Finance, Afternoon Edition
Good afternoon, View fans. Here is a look at some of what I've been reading.
With apologies to Sinatra, if you can buy a home there, you can buy one anywhere
Want to see the effects of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing? Go shopping for an apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. From Oshrat Carmiel of Bloomberg News: "Manhattanites with budgets that would buy mansions in most of America are discovering it's tough to find even a two-bedroom apartment in New York as the inventory of homes shrinks. The number of available units for less than $3 million -- those generally considered nonluxury -- has plunged by the most on record, creating a shortage that's unlikely to be alleviated any time soon as developers focus on ultra high-end condos that have set price records by wealthy investors."
Down 99 percent and still worth nine figures
There's a great read in the Financial Times about the imploding empire of Eike Batista, once Brazil's richest man. Last year his wealth was estimated at $30 billion. Now it's less than $200 million. "His demise is also a broader sign of the tougher times ahead of Brazilian business now that excitement over commodities is waning," write Joe Leahy and Samantha Pearson. "The era of easy liquidity is over, and Brazilian companies will have to fight rivals in other emerging markets for increasingly scarce capital."
Reflecting on Eliot Spitzer's record as New York attorney general
Charlie Gasparino is no fan. He calls former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer "the keystone kop of Wall Street" in a New York Post column: "While Spitzer's made his work policing Wall Street as state attorney general the centerpiece of his post-hooker political comeback, he wasn't really all that effective a Wall Street cop. He brought a lot of weak cases and won some comparatively piddling settlements — and, thanks to his narcissistic approach to law enforcement, also left some serious wreckage behind." The kicker: "I'll give `the Sheriff of Wall Street' this much: He ran a great press office, manipulating reporters and editors into buying his self-promotion. But now he wants to be the city's chief fiscal officer — and who wants a headline-hungry accountant?"
A sign that the SEC is gaining respect
At least judging by this blog post today by lawyers at the firm Mayer Brown about the Securities and Exchange Commission's rejection of a settlement with Philip Falcone and the hedge fund he managed: "The commission does not lightly or often reject settlements that are supported by its enforcement division. The SEC's decision to do so here could suggest, as it has publicly proclaimed, that it will be taking a more aggressive stance in enforcement matters. When coupled with the SEC's new policy of seeking admissions of wrongdoing in certain settlements (in opposition to their traditional position of allowing settlements without either `admitting or denying' the SEC's allegations), today's decision could portend a new enforcement climate where settlements are more costly and the collateral consequences more severe." Keep in mind, the people who wrote this are lawyers at a white-shoe defense firm. The SEC still has a long way to go.
Good call on Zillow, First Solar
Zillow and First Solar fell sharply today. Steven Russolillo of the Wall Street Journal made the call. Here's what he wrote today: "On Monday we previewed five earnings reports that short sellers would salivate over. Two of those companies — First Solar and Zillow — reported quarterly results Tuesday after the closing bell that fell short of analysts' expectations. Both companies are now watching their stock prices take it on the chin on Wednesday, which is putting a dent into their massive year-to-date gains." We will see about the other three stocks.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.
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Jonathan Weil at email@example.com