Weil on Finance: An Ax Is Born at Harvard

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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Greetings, View fans! Here are your morning links. Have a great weekend.

Harvard professor writes article , mass panic ensues .

Ever hear of a Harvard Business School professor named Ben Edelman? I hadn't either until this week, when he wrote a blog post about a company called Blinkx and crushed its stock, which trades on London's Alternative Investment Market. "Video and advertising conglomerate Blinkx tells investors its `strong performance' results from `strategic initiatives' and `expanding demand, content, and audiences,'" his article began. "Indeed, Blinkx recently climbed past a $1.2 billion valuation. At first glance, it sounds like a great business. But looking more carefully, I see reason for grave doubts," which he then proceeded to spell out. (I'll let you check out the details of his allegations yourself.) The stock fell 36 percent over the course of two days. The second link takes you to an article by the Independent of London about the shares' collapse.

Mary Schapiro decided that nine months of being a consultant for banks was long enough.

The former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman's last day as an employee at Promontory Financial Group is today. She told the New York Times that her departure will free her up to do more university lectures, speaking engagements and corporate board work. (Nice work if you can get it.) Ben Protess writes that "the departure capped a rare wrong turn through Washington's revolving door." And a quick one, too.

The people running the Vatican bank are no angels.

Or, as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs might say, they were just doing God's work. From the Associated Press: "Dozens and perhaps hundreds of widows and Vatican pensioners recently came in for a rude surprise: The Vatican bank told them they had to close their accounts or risk losing access to their money -- all in the name of Pope Francis' reform efforts, The Associated Press has learned. The bank now says it was all a `technical error' and that the widows and pensioners are being kept on as clients. That reversal came despite the bank's highly publicized plan to close so-called `lay accounts' as it tries to mend relations with Italian authorities who have suspected that Italians were using the bank as a tax haven. It's all come as a big embarrassment for an institution that is trying to fend off accusations of mismanagement and corruption."

Ben Bernanke's most memorable moments.

They're all right here in a delightful compilation by Jeff Kearns of Bloomberg News. (Bernanke's term as Federal Reserve chairman ends this week.) My personal favorite: "Bernanke sometimes struggled to explain the Fed's large-scale asset purchases, or quantitative easing, to the public. In the March 2009 interview on `60 Minutes,' asked if the Fed's programs were spending tax dollars, Bernanke replied: `It's much more akin to printing money than it is to borrowing.' In December of 2010, Bernanke again appeared on `60 Minutes' to explain Fed policies, which by then included a second round of bond purchases. `One myth that's out there is that what we're doing is printing money,' Bernanke said. `We're not printing money.'"

What in the world is a Doberhuahua ?

It's a cross between a Doberman and a Chihuahua. But don't worry, it's not a real dog. It's just a funny shtick for a car commercial that's airing during the Super Bowl. Good times.

(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)

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

To contact the editor on this story:
James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net