Levine on Wall Street: Too Big Not to Pay a Small Quarterly Tax

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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Maybe there'll be a systemic importance tax .

I don't really put a lot of stock in "guy introduces new tax bill" as a way of predicting what the tax law will be, but "The proposal by Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, would raise taxes for about 10 companies -- the largest banks along with non-bank institutions such as General Electric Co.'s financing arm -- deemed systemically important," so make of that what you will. The tax would be 3.5 basis points per quarter on assets in excess of $500 billion, which would I guess provide a small incentive for banks to get smaller. Or it would raise tens of billions of dollars in tax revenues but, you know, not both.

What were you doing between 9:30 and 10:10 a.m. on Aug. 8, 2011?

Tim Geithner was apparently meeting with President Obama, and perhaps discussing whether to sue Standard & Poor's as revenge for S&P's downgrade of U.S. government debt. I don't know, it's a theory. And it's S&P's theory, and they're trying to get a court to make the government give them documents about the meeting to prove their theory.

Did you enjoy JPMorgan's investor day ?

Here are all the slides. The corporate and investment bank slides are particularly interesting; JPMorgan has a leading position in most of its businesses but, delightfully, has a slide (page 6) calling out the areas where it lags. And titles the slide "Opportunities to improve market share across different regions." Love the optimism. Meanwhile, Jamie Dimon thinks that Apple and Google are eyeing opportunities to eat his lunch.

Frank Bisignano strikes again .

Speaking of Jamie Dimon's lunch, and who else might be eating it: Former JPMorgan executive Frank Bisignano now runs First Data Corp., which appears to be in the business of hiring everyone who used to work at JPMorgan. Which I kind of don't get? Like, why is First Data a so much more attractive place to work than JPMorgan? But I can understand First Data's latest hire, JPMorgan's now-former chief compliance officer, Cindy Armine. You can see how she might want a change of pace.

Another mortgage settlement .

"Morgan Stanley agreed to pay the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission $275 million to resolve a probe into the sale of subprime mortgage-backed securities in 2007." Okay.

Don't hold your breath for a Men's Wearhouse/Jos. A. Bank merger.

I like Ronald Barusch's take on the Jos. A. Bank situation. The key thing is that Jos. A. Bank's board will probably get some leeway from a Delaware court to do what it wants, even if it's not what shareholders want. One, because that's generally how Delaware courts roll, but also: "since Men's increased the price it has offered to $63.50 from $56.50-with the possibility of a further increase to $65-after the announcement of the Eddie Bauer deal, Jos. A. Bank's tactics to date would seem to have been largely vindicated."

Utopia Parkway .

Here is Karl Smith at FT Alphaville talking about the Morgan Stanley chart on Tesla that made the rounds yesterday. Smith's key point is that Morgan Stanley's very bullish Tesla report actually understates the value of autonomous vehicles, because of their ability to travel without people -- "the entire concept of a car as an appliance is replaced by cars as the physical backbone of a transportation network or cloud." But Morgan Stanley's key point is that we'll have a utopian society by 2026. Really all financial charts should go until "utopian society" and then stop. Or I guess whatever the down version of that is, charred hellscape or whatever.

Do you want to read even more about the @GSElevator Twitter account?

I hope not. But if you do, Kevin Roose has a conspiracy theory, and Clive Horwood has some gossip about the account's author (one of them?) once wearing a bathrobe in a Hong Kong bar.

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