Levine on Wall Street: I Used to Work at Goldman Sachs Too!
Mortgages will get more expensive
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced Monday that they will be raising the fees they charge to guarantee mortgages for borrowers with credit scores of 760 or below or with down payments of below 20 percent. That is the sort of risk-aware, market-adjacent behavior you'd expect from ... I dunno, what are your priors? From a Fannie and Freddie that are on their way to being sold to Fairholme? From a Fannie and Freddie that are on their way to being dissolved and replaced by competitive private capital? From a Fannie and Freddie that are going to be around forever as wards of the state and therefore might as well behave in an economically rational way? Anyway, this will be bad for housing I guess, so various people complain in this article, but none does as good a job as David Stevens, the chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association, whose life is presumably now complete because he told the Wall Street Journal, "It's like Beyoncé's album: It all of a sudden hit the market."
JPMorgan wants more bankers to do less
There are two possible views of the working-all-the-time culture among junior investment bankers. Either it is necessary because there is SO MUCH TO DO AAAHHH, or it's a weird macho hazing ritual and junior bankers are doing like fifteen hours a week of actual work, tops. Goldman Sachs's decision to make junior bankers just go home for 36 hours a week implicitly endorsed the latter theory. JPMorgan is hedging its bets, not only giving junior bankers one weekend off a month (probably a better deal than one day a weekend? discuss!) but also hiring 10 percent more junior bankers to take up the slack. So maybe those JPMorgan analysts were actually getting work done on their weekends at the office. Unlike their lazy competitors at Goldman.
But you should work at Goldman anyway
Here is an academic paper titled "I Used to Work at Goldman Sachs! How Firms Benefit From Organizational Status in the Market for Human Capital." I have not read it but I endorse the title. I have read this summary from eFinancial Careers, which says: "In the same way that the first three years of a child's life are said to be crucial to brain development, the Wharton academics identified that the early years of a banking career are essential both to future earning power and to future career development," so you should work at Goldman for five years. (I only made it four years, and now I'm a blogger, so draw your own conclusions.) Would you believe that the lead author appears not to have worked at Goldman Sachs? Would you believe that he seems to have worked at McKinsey?
Malls can better support debt service if they're not overrun by zombies
Here is a story about collateralized mortgage-backed securities that is also about the future of shopping malls. That future is grim, but it is not undifferentiatedly grim. Some high-end malls are still doing okay. There is good news and bad news in Austin: "While the older Highland mall has been described online by recent visitors as 'the mall you see in every zombie apocalypse movie', its newer competitor is hailed as the 'best shopping in Austin', with the majority of customer complaints centring on the Domain's alleged lack of parking space." Go long the good one, short the zombies, probably.
Banks and social media go great together
Here is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's long, boring and humorless guidance on social media usage for banks. If you're into that sort of thing, here it is. The guidance specifically says that banks subject to the Community Reinvestment Act have to preserve, and make available in a public file, social-media comments "that specifically relate to the institution's performance in helping to meet community credit needs," and oh do I hope that some of the #AskJPM tweets fall into that category and JPMorgan has them on file somewhere. (I doubt it, but I can dream, and do a pretty forced misreading of the rules.)
home life is terrifying
If you're a JPMorgan analyst suddenly at loose ends one weekend a month, I cannot recommend going to visit your boss at home. Here is his Christmas card and there are a lot of giant tennis balls and chaos and I just do not know what to tell you.
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Matthew S Levine at email@example.com