Levine on Wall Street: Keep Buying the Wrong Tickers, Everyone

If you're an activist publicly talking your book, you might want to spell your book correctly. Or you might not.

Buy Appell Petroleum!

Or don't, this is more in the category of "joke" than "investment advice." Also I'm not sure you actually can; the last trade seems to have been in 2011. But here's what I know about Appell: It trades (?) under the ticker "APPL," and Carl Icahn has big plans for it:

We feel $APPL board is doing great disservice to shareholders by not having markedly increased its buyback. In-depth letter to follow soon.

It's possible he meant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) but I guess we'll never know. If we're an algorithm. (Related!)

Banks have to tell the government all their darkest secrets .

Here is sort of a funny Bloomberg News story about how "Banks bound by cooperation agreements in an interest-rate rigging probe are providing a windfall of information to U.S. prosecutors investigating possible currency manipulation." Because in the Libor settlements the banks all agree to hand over evidence of all the bad stuff they do, but that turned into a gotcha because the government said "well what about all the bad currency stuff?" and the banks said "okay, you got us there, here's some evidence against us." Or something like that. "The cooperation agreements also allow the government to advance the probe without overtaxing law enforcement resources," and it is interesting to ponder the equilibrium where the main way that banks are caught violating the law is through their own investigations. Which investigations will they do?

Poor Fab Tourre !

Literally, I guess; here you can read about the arguments over how much he should pay the SEC in fines and penalties for his role in the Abacus collateralized debt obligation deal. The bid and ask are $65,000 and "more than $1 million," with Fab's lawyers arguing that "The publicity that has attended this case has, to a large extent, served as a self-executing punishment for Mr. Tourre already," since everyone hates him and no one will ever hire him again. I guess? I don't hate you, Fab. Also I am not really that convinced that a little fraud actually disqualifies anyone from future high-paid financial employment. I'm not even entirely convinced that a lifetime ban from the securities industry disqualifies anyone from future high-paid financial employment. But Tourre seems repentant enough that he's now hoping to land work as an economist.

Clubbing is a popular night time activity .

Late to this, but just in case you missed it, here is a story about a Hong Kong nightclub whose IPO prospectus explains clubbing. When lawyers explain nightclubs to mutual fund managers, everything is great:

"Clubbing is a popular night time activity which has evolved from the discotheques of the 1970s into a modern form of social gathering with lively music, elaborate lighting and a dance floor, supplemented by both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages," the IPO-prospectus overview begins.
And it describes the scene: "The aura and atmosphere of the modern clubbing scene is filled with images of people moving in unison to the beat of synthesised remixed dance and electronic music spun out by a DJ perched upon an elevated stage."

Organic food is a complicated business.

America's finest sociologist is Sarah Nassauer, who writes about the food industry for the Wall Street Journal. Here is a story about how lots of people buy organic baby food, and some of them sometimes buy organic grown-up food, and "Marketers are working to turn these organic dabblers into consistent customers." There is much to ponder, but the great joy of these articles always comes from seeing marketing-speak in its native environment:

Annie's Inc., a Berkeley, Calif.-based company that makes boxed macaroni and cheese, cheddar crackers shaped like bunnies and gummy fruit snacks made with organic ingredients has "been working on aging up our brand," and bringing new people in, says Sarah Bird, its chief marketing officer.

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    To contact the author on this story:
    Matthew S Levine at mlevine51@bloomberg.net

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