Weil on Finance, P.M: JPMorgan Beats Citi

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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We meet again, View fans. Enjoy the links. Have a great weekend.

JPMorgan fought the law and had another perfect quarter

JPMorgan Chase filed its quarterly report today, and it's filled with all sorts of entertaining revelations. We now know that the Justice Department is conducting at least eight (eight!) separate investigations into the bank's activities. Citigroup, by comparison, disclosed only one Justice Department probe. So there you have it, the score is 8-1, and Jamie Dimon is winning! And in another JPMorgan story, the company disclosed for the third consecutive quarter that it didn't have a single trading day where it lost money. No, I don't understand how this is possible, but I promise to look into it. Anyway, another strike against the efficient-markets theory.

How bad are Harvard's investment returns ?

Pretty bad, writes Dan Primack of Fortune: "Harvard University has the nation's largest college or university endowment, valued at $32.7 billion through the end of June. It also has worse investment returns than any of its peers over the past five years, according to a Fortune analysis." Compared with other large schools or broader market indices, "Harvard has been a virtual trainwreck." And, of course, everybody loves reading stories about Harvard doing badly at something, especially people who didn't get in, which is why I flagged this one for you.

Ohio town beats hedge fund (for now)

A couple of weeks ago, Bloomberg News reporters Heather Perlberg and John Gittelsohn had an article about Magnetar Capital, a hedge fund with a colorful past that now owns one in 11 homes -- making up a third of the rental market -- in the Dayton suburb of Huber Heights, Ohio. Through its management company, Magnetar had been seeking the largest cut to property-tax assessments in the county's history, which would curb funding for local schools and city services. Now comes some good news for the townsfolk: Magnetar has withdrawn a bunch of its tax appeals. Score one for the little guys. Nice to see journalists having an impact.

Handicapping the Fed's taper timing

Randall Forsyth at Barron's says that once Janet Yellen takes over, "tapering seems even less likely in the absence of real improvement in the labor market." And so "the cognitive dissonance between a hot stock market and a tepid real economy will likely persist." He goes on: "Of course, the condition could be readily resolved by the Fed's admission that quantitative easing mainly pumps up asset prices while the real economy is restrained by tax and regulatory matters. That would be what therapists call a breakthrough."

And finally, yes, Washington really is run by lizard people

From the Atlantic's news-you-can-use-but-not-really department: "How to Spot the Reptilians Running the U.S. Government."

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