Levine on Wall Street: Hot and Cold Running Money

Matt Levine is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was an editor of Dealbreaker, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
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Bill Ackman is going after Herbalife distributors by name.

Here's one of Pershing Square's dossiers on Herbalife distributors. It is taken from a distributor's own marketing materials, and it is a treat; the slide titled "Strengths of the Club: Generate immediate results" is worth seeing. The immediate results appear to be that someone will install a faucet of money at your house, which does seem lucrative, though also inconvenient for washing your dishes. Actually I was convinced by the first slide, titled "eBusinessForYou.net: Internet Business Solutions Outside the Box," which is just every single kind of wrong. BuzzFeed, on the other hand, is horrified that Pershing Square would say mean things about someone on the internet, I think? No haters, guys!

Buffett's rainbow was fine .

Here David Murphy, a sensible derivatives and risk guy, defends Warren Buffett against charges of writing exotic puts. He makes some good points; in particular, yes, clearly Buffett and Lehman had different views on value and both were reasonable in the context of their respective objectives. I don't really disagree with any of this, and I don't think Warren Buffett is evil or dumb for selling puts. I used to sell puts! But like I've said, there's no cheaper financial-writing irony than Warren Buffett's hatred for derivatives, and his inability to resist occasionally selling them.

OMT may or may not be fine.

Speaking of money faucets, "Germany's constitutional court has referred its complaint over the European Central Bank's pledge to buy government bonds in unlimited amounts to the European Court of Justice, an unprecedented move that is likely to be seen as a victory for the eurozone's central bank." While the German court said that the outright monetary transaction program "did not appear to be covered by the mandate of the European Central Bank," it didn't do anything about it other than send the question to an apparently more sympathetic court. So, good win there I guess.

Finally the CFTC is getting some good advice .

"Blythe Masters, head of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)'s commodities division, is joining an advisory committee of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission." I think Blythe Masters is just the best but, still, gulp? She is sort of divisive, regulatorily. But if you're the CFTC and you want to figure out what banks will cook up so you can regulate it, it's hard to think of a better person to ask.

Today in Bitcoin stuff (1) .

I don't really want to encourage Bitcoin, but I do want to encourage Planet Money stories about Felix Salmon's footwear, and I certainly want to encourage RapGenius to develop into a platform for financial commentary. So here is Salmon on Bitcoin bets and alpaca socks and RapGenius and so forth. You can probably figure out if you like that sort of thing before you click.

Today in Bitcoin stuff (2) .

Similarly, I'm neither a Bitcoin booster nor a throw-all-the-banksters-in-jail type, but really. Charlie Shrem was arrested last week for laundering a few million dollars worth of Bitcoins for drug sales. Meanwhile HSBC, Wachovia, ING and Standard Chartered have all settled charges of laundering millions of dollars for drug cartels without anyone going to jail. That really does send the message that, if you're going to commit crimes, you should do it at a big bank.

Bank of Not Very Good At Mail Merge In America.

"Bank of America Sends Credit Card Offer to 'Lisa Is a Slut McIntire'" is pretty much the story here. Oops!

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

(Matt Levine writes about Wall Street and the financial world for Bloomberg View.)

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

To contact the editor on this story:
Toby Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net