Weil on Finance, P.M.: Chris Christie's Guest List

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 with the links.

Convicted? No. Never Convicted

There's a great scene from the 1981 movie "Stripes" that jumped to mind when I saw Charlie Gasparino's latest column. Bill Murray's character and his buddy are about to enlist in the U.S. Army, and the recruiter asks them: "Have you ever been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor?" Murray's character replies: "Convicted? No." And the other guy chimes in: "Never convicted." Anyway, today Gasparino reported that "New Jersey Governor Chris Christie personally invited hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen to his re-election victory party last week just hours" after "his fund, SAC Capital, pleaded guilty to criminal insider-trading charges." Technically, the judge hasn't decided whether to accept SAC's guilty plea, but that's a minor nit. The point is: Cohen wasn't charged. So, it's back to the highfalutin political cocktail-party circuit for him. I've always wanted to find an excuse to work that line from "Stripes" into a post. So check that one off the bucket list.

A sign of desperation at Facebook?

That's what Robert Cyran of Breakingviews sees in Facebook's bid to buy Snapchat: "The social network paid $1 billion for no-revenue Instagram a little over a year ago. Now, it's said to be dangling as much as $3 billion to lure a mobile app that sends self-destructing digital images. Facebook's apparently escalating need to buy off marauders at its moat suggests its defenses may be scalable."

A newly discovered billionaire for Bloomberg's index

Her name is Vera Guerin. Her late father survived two Nazi concentration camps and created one of California's biggest real-estate developers. And Toll Brothers agreed to buy her family's homebuilding company for $1.6 billion cash. Guerin's estimated net worth: at least $1.3 billion, landing her on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. It may be more. Her father's original partners, both in their mid-90s, still come to the office every day. Great human-interest story by Bloomberg News reporters Seth Lubove and John Gittelsohn.

In search of gold under the sea

Vernon Silver of Bloomberg News has a fun read about a 60-year-old treasure hunter in the Florida Keys named Robert Mayne who has been searching for a galleon sunk by a 1622 hurricane. One of his investors is a former bartender who has spent 33 years looking for the wreck. Mayne, who used to smuggle marijuana, is realistic about their prospects. "Treasure hunting is a broken business model," he says.

If only we could buy credit-default swaps on people . . .

Andy Kaufman's brother Michael claims the funnyman faked his own death and is still alive. If there was such a thing as a swaps market on Andy Kaufman, volatility would have spiked this week. But it's a good thing we can't buy CDS on people. At least not yet. Although maybe someday we'll be able to short Fantex, which would be close, because that way investors could profit when a pro football player suffers a horrific, career-ending injury. Give Wall Street time.

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