Weil on Finance: Cruz Needs Friend

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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Howdy, View fans. On to this morning's reads.

Things aren't looking good for Ted Cruz today

You know the Tea Party senator from Texas has hit tough times when his home state's largest newspaper (and a conservative one at that) says in a headline that he has "few friends" left. Here's the lead sentence from Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News: "It might be time for Ted Cruz to get a dog."

No, traders aren't allowed to cook their books on purpose

Nice catch by Michael Rapoport of the Wall Street Journal, who noticed that some accounting guidance in a recent bulletin by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency mirrored last year's London Whale scenario at JPMorgan Chase & Co. to a tee. The OCC staff said it would be "inappropriate" for banks to change how they value derivatives holdings just to make their results look better. The second link takes you to the bulletin. (See Question 9 on page 215.)

Barack Obama vs. the zombies

That's how Felix Salmon frames the latest budget/debt-ceiling drama. And remember, Congress will have to start doing it all over again in about three months. Felix is kind of out there with this one, but it's a good read. Note the "Fight Club" reference to actor Ed Norton: "The point here is that the zombie army, a/k/a the Tea Party, is a movement, not a person -- and it's an aggressively anti-logical movement, at that. You can't negotiate with a zombie -- and neither can you wheel out some kind of clever syllogism which will convince a group of revolutionary nihilists that it's a bad idea to get into a fight if you're reasonably convinced that you're going to lose it. Spoiler alert: it turns out that Ed Norton was beating up himself, all along. When you're Really Angry, sometimes losing a big fight against The Man is exactly what you feel like doing."

The costs of the government shutdown

Bloomberg News has a good roundup this morning showing the costs to businesses large and small of the government shutdown. A Capitol Hill diner frequented by House Speaker John Boehner lost 80 percent of its usual business. A fishing-boat captain at Everglades National Park lost $1,000 a day in canceled charters. Shares of the toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker fell 14 percent yesterday after the company cut its profit forecast in part because of the shutdown. Lockheed Martin, the largest government contractor, put 2,400 workers on leave.

Mark Cuban on beating the SEC

The Dallas Mavericks owner was all smiles yesterday at a news conference outside the courthouse after a jury rejected the Securities and Exchange Commission's claims that he engaged in insider trading. Some quotes of his from the New York Times: "When you take all these years of my life and try to make a point, it's personal," he said, adding, "It's just wrong the way this went down." The case, he said, "shows that the SEC's process is broken."

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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