Weil on Finance: Muddy Waters' Facts
Happy Monday, View fans. Here are your morning links.
A closer look at what Muddy Waters said about NQ Mobile
Dune Lawrence and Belinda Cao have a good truth-squad piece today about last month's Muddy Waters report on the Chinese company NQ Mobile Inc., shares of which have rebounded after initially getting crushed in response to Muddy Waters's fraud allegations. The gist: The research firm was right to focus on NQ's delays in collecting customers' payments, but wrong to conclude that there is anything necessarily suspicious about NQ's re-classification of cash, cash equivalents and term deposits as "Level 2" (or mark-to-model) assets. There also were a bunch of other issues raised by Muddy Waters that "remain difficult to parse."
What's wrong with Big Four accounting firms
The Big Four auditors check the books at the vast majority of the world's largest publicly traded corporations, which puts them in an enormously important position of public trust. Meanwhile, out the back door, they sell dodgy tax schemes that are designed to bleed government coffers dry, which raises the question: Why do governments continue to let them do both? This article in the Guardian shows how Deloitte has been advising companies doing business in Africa to structure their transactions through the island of Mauritius to avoid higher taxes in countries such as Mozambique, where more than half of the population lives in poverty and average life expectancy is 49 year old.
Swiss politicians grapple with UBS, Credit Suisse
Once against it has dawned on the political leaders of Switzerland that the collapse of UBS or Credit Suisse could cripple their country, because the banks are so large and the nation is so small. From John Letzing of the Wall Street Journal: "In recent weeks, Swiss politicians have proposed rules that could force the two banks to make far fewer loans and investments in relation to the capital they keep on hand. The proposed restrictions on so-called leverage ratios, which might be voted on in Parliament next year, could boost stability but also make it more difficult for the institutions to vie with other international behemoths."
SAC Capital plea-dea l watch
It looks like there could be big news today on this front. The hedge fund would plead guilty and pay about a $1.2 billion fine, according to the New York Times. Then attention would turn to the Securities and Exchange Commission's administrative case against Steven Cohen and the pending criminal trials of two other people who worked for him.
Jaw-dropper of the day
German authorities discovered more than a billion euros ($1.35 billion) worth of art that was confiscated by the Nazis before World War II. The 1,500 pieces include paintings by Picasso and Matisse and were found outside Munich when police raided the apartment of an elderly man accused of tax fraud. His father had been an art dealer, and he held on to the paintings after his father died in 1956, selling some to support himself.
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Jonathan Weil at firstname.lastname@example.org