Weil on Finance: Twitter’s IPO Plans and China’s Ghost Towns

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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Happy Friday, dear readers. Here are some of my morning reads.

Tweet this: Confidentiality for IPO documents is a lousy idea

Ohio State law professor Steven Davidoff does an excellent job explaining what's wrong with letting companies file registration statements confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission when planning their initial public offerings: "There might be value in having the regulator's critique of a company's IPO occurring more or less simultaneously in the public eye," he writes. "And let's face it: does anyone believe that Twitter would not have gone public if filing confidentiality had not been available?"

Promontory and PricewaterhouseCoopers get subpoenas

Promontory Financial Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers are two of the biggest names in consulting. The New York Department of Financial Services has sent them subpoenas "as part of a broader investigation into the industry's perceived coziness with Wall Street," the New York Times reported. Here's the line that got me: "The examination of the consultants stems from a concern that the industry's business model is rife with conflicts of interest. While consultants are supposed to provide an objective assessment of a bank's problems, they are also handpicked and paid by those same banks." Why would anyone expect a consulting firm to be independent of the client that hired it?

Six things wrong with financial system post-Lehman Brothers

Gillian Tett of the Financial Times gives the rundown: Big banks are bigger. So are shadow banks. So are central banks. The rich are richer. Few financiers get prosecuted. And Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are alive and kicking. That pretty much covers it.

Herb Greenberg with awarning on MercadoLibre

MercadoLibre is a retail and online-auction website that's immensely popular in Latin America. It also has drawn criticism over its accounting practices. Herb Greenberg does a good job explaining what the fuss is about. I missed this piece when it first came out. And it's worth a read, as is the norm with Greenberg's columns on stocks.

How to fill China's ghost towns? Massive resettlements

There have been stories for years about Chinese "ghost towns," where regional governments have built huge cities with everything from Olympic-sized stadiums to skyscrapers and shopping malls -- and nobody lives there. The term never made sense to me. To have a ghost town, you need ghosts. And if nobody ever lived there, well, then there shouldn't be ghosts. But I digress. Beijing-based Caixin Online has a neat item about plans to fill one city's empty buildings: "The government of Ordos has embarked on a campaign to resettle hundreds of thousands of local residents to fill in hugely vacant developed areas known as `ghost towns.' The city has many residential areas which were developed in recent years when the local economy was experiencing a mining resources boom."

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To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net