Weil on Finance: Wrist Slaps for Rate Rigging

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. Here's what I've been reading this morning.

Big banks get ticketed for rate rigging

Somehow in the grand scheme of things, 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) doesn't seem like a lot of money for six huge banks to pay as penalties for rigging some of the world's most important benchmark rates in order to boost their profits. The banks include Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and JPMorgan Chase. The stuff they rigged included the yen London interbank offered rate. The European Union said the combined antitrust fines were a record, but that's not saying much. These are equivalent to parking tickets. Funny how it always seems to work out this way, isn't it?

Is it better to be born smart or rich ?

The first link takes you to a story in the Atlantic tackling the question. The second takes you to a Brookings paper on which the Atlantic article based. The short answer is that over the long term "smart kids earn more than rich kids." But there's a catch: "The unfortunate truth is that, more often than not, the rich kids are the smart kids."

Collapsing yields on asset-backed securities

Here's a good roundup at FT's Alphaville blog looking at various types of securitized products, such as collateralized loan obligations and subprime mortgage bonds. These are the sorts of bonds that used to be considered toxic and once offered fairly high returns. Not anymore. "Except for high quality debt exposed to interest rate risk, the price of pretty much everything has gone up this year as yields have fallen," writes Dan McCrum.

This is what we have trials for

The defense finally got its turn to cross-examine Jon Horvath, the star witness for prosecutors in the insider-trading trial of Michael Steinberg, who was Horvath's boss at SAC Capital Advisors. Horvath said "I don't remember" more than once in response to questions by Steinberg's lead lawyer, just the sort of thing defense lawyers are supposed to get prosecution witnesses to say. Now Steinberg's legal team will use Horvath's memory lapses in an attempt to undercut his credibility.

A very sad story about dogs

The headline from the Sun-Sentinel of South Florida: "Maltese takes on three pit bulls and loses." Rest in peace, Poochi.

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