Levine on Wall Street: Like a Hedge Fund, but Without the Money

"To understand the issue thoroughly, the system needs to be in a static state" is really a great motto for life. 

Let's tweet.

Keith McCullough, who runs an imaginary hedge fund called Hedgeye Risk Management, inspires weird intense passions in certain corners of the financial internet. I never really got it, but this article about him is amazing. If you love or hate McCullough, this will confirm your priors in delightful ways, and if you've never heard of him before it will perhaps be even more of a treat.

This does sound awkward.

Here is the story of how a Chinese official, Xiang Junbo, once asked Jamie Dimon to hire his family friend. While she was in the room. And acting as his interpreter:

As the meeting with Mr. Dimon was wrapping up, interviews and the confidential email show, Mr. Xiang changed the subject to his young interpreter. He introduced her to Mr. Dimon and portrayed her as the daughter of a close friend and a potential JPMorgan employee. In an awkward moment for the applicant, she translated as Mr. Xiang extolled the benefits of hiring her.

JPMorgan hired her, and I hope she never had to work with anyone who witnessed that embarrassing moment.

ISS wants Carl Icahn to stop picking on Apple.

Institutional Shareholder Services, which provides institutional shareholders with the service of telling them how to vote on stuff, told them to vote against Carl Icahn's proposal to demand that Apple buy back $50 billion of stock. ISS thinks that the proposal would "micromanage the company's capital allocation process," and it is funny to see the prefix "micro" applied to a $50 billion thing. I guess the theory is that Apple's board knows more about how to run Apple than Carl Icahn does, which is quite plausible, though it is almost equally plausible that Carl Icahn knows more about how to run Apple than ISS does.

Rough weekend for Bitcoin.

"One-of the best known bitcoin exchanges," Mt. Gox, "abruptly halted customer withdrawals" on Friday, which is not great. If I ever run a Ponzi scheme, when I shut it down I'm going to tell people what Mt. Gox told its customers, which is that "To understand the issue thoroughly, the system needs to be in a static state." Oh, speaking of my Ponzi dreams, the beautiful "Bitcoin Ponzi" at ponzi.io shut down this weekend. You can understand why -- it literally advertised that it was a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme! That was the name! -- but I'm not really sure how that's illegal? I mean, I guess it's some sort of fraud, but it wasn't a Madoff-y Ponzi. They were really clear about what was going on: "The returns on your investment come from other investors, so as long as people invest after you, your payout is guaranteed!"

Rough week for David Einhorn.

David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital has been vocally short the stock of sympathetically colored coffee pod company Green Mountain because he's had doubts about Green Mountain's accounting. So last week's announcement of a partnership with and investment by Coca-Cola was sort of rough for Einhorn, both because the stock soared and because, as this Breakingviews piece puts it, "There must be some presumption that Coke's bean-counters gave its new partner in caffeine a comprehensive review" and signed off on the accounting. But not necessarily! Coke might want Green Mountain's pods and not care about the details of its revenue model. And there's no prize just for getting things right; the prizes are all just for predicting stock prices. If (1) Green Mountain turned out to be brewing its books and (2) Coke bought it at a premium price anyway, Einhorn would be in the sad position of being right but hosed.

Treasury's creativity is limited.

It is disappointing to read that "U.S. Treasury Taking Steps to Stay Under Debt Ceiling," but that those steps will only last until February 27. Does Treasury not read the Internet? We've solved this, move on already.

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

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.