Levine on Wall Street: No Boring Bankers Allowed

Clients apparently want their junior bankers to be Renaissance men and women, or at least to be able to make small talk about sports.

James Gorman opposes making bankers boring.

Pay attention, this is tricky: Morgan Stanley chief executive officer James Gorman is generally pro-boring-banking (he's cutting back on sexy bond trading risk and beefing up boring retail brokerage), but he is against boring bankers:

Speaking at Davos yesterday, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said people (young bankers) need to pursue a career that they're "passionate about" and that the "hours have to be reasonable so they can have a balanced lifestyle." In a reiteration of the "all work and no play" maxim, Gorman said that bankers who work too hard, "become very uninteresting advisers to companies because they bring a very narrow perspective."

He then proceeds to some blather about how he doesn't think junior bankers should be forced to go home sometimes -- "It's more common sense, it's more upward feedback and evaluation," which cannot be encouraging for the analysts -- but let's stick with the blather in that block quote. That's some serious blather! What broader perspective are Gorman's junior bankers developing when they leave work for their occasional scraps of a weekend? Presumably, like, perspective on golf courses and Hamptons beaches? Ugh that probably is the perspective that clients value, never mind, carry on James Gorman.

Pimco's okay with boring though .

Here is a creepy story about what it's like to work for Bill Gross at Pimco. It's quiet, for one thing: "Everyone knows when the big dog walks in, he wants silence," says a trader. (Gross is the big dog.) And you're especially not allowed to talk to Gross; instead, you print up trade idea packets and hand them to his assistant, who "takes the recommendations and walks a few feet to put them in Gross's in-tray, on his desk." Okay! An important thing to remember about the asset management business is that if you are good enough at making investment decisions, everything else about you becomes irrelevant. Gross could cook and eat traders who displeased him and he'd still have a job.

There's trouble in the land of the diet shakes.

On Wednesday, Senator Edward Markey sent a bunch of troublemaking letters about Herbalife -- to Herbalife, to the Federal Trade Commission, and to the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and on Thursday Herbalife's stock duly dropped by over 10 p. Presumably Bill Ackman celebrated. Dan McCrum at FT Alphaville is the journalistic expert on Herbalife, and he likes Markey's letters, saying that "the letter to the FTC gets at the key issues," that the letter to the SEC reads "rather along the lines of: is your agency really paying enough attention to alleged pyramid schemes?," and that, in the letter to Herbalife, "the senator has basically asked all the questions that we would if we were in his place and were trying to work out if this company is legitimate, as it says, or not." In particular, that last letter calls for details about sales breakdowns that Herbalife has never disclosed, and it'll be fun to watch Herbalife decide whether to defy a U.S. senator.

As sands in the hourglass , so are the people going to jail for insider trading.

This can't really be a surprise, but the doctor who allegedly gave Mathew Martoma inside information about drug trials was not the FBI's main target. Nor was Martoma. "Dr. Gilman said that the agents told him during a meeting in 2011 that 'I am only a grain of sand, as is Mr. Martoma.'" Who was the real target? Can you guess? Can you guess? I'm just not going to tell you, you can click the link, but I bet you guessed right.

You can bet on a lot of silly stuff .

I would have thought that the fun of Super Bowl proposition betting is drunkenly coming up with weird bets and then goading the people at your Super Bowl party into taking them, but if you want scientifically determined odds, "Online sportsbook Bovada.lv is taking wagers on the number of times the Denver Broncos' quarterback yells 'Omaha' as one of his pre-snap calls." So that is super. I don't know, and do not intend to find out, how they plan to adjudicate disputes over what he says. If I were him I might yell "Omaga" a couple of times just to mess with people, but I guess that's why I'm not a Super Bowl quarterback. That's the only reason. Also no word on whether Berkshire Hathaway is reinsuring any of Bovada's bets.

"Billionaire Braves Bloated Self-Importance for Davos Chat"

That's pretty much perfect.

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

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