Levine on Wall Street: Barbers and Shoeshine Boys

Satoshi Nakamoto lost his book deal. The identity of @GSElevator was revealed yesterday. Bill Gross said mean things about his barber. None of this is true, but other, similarly ridiculous things are.

The long-simmering tensions between BIll Gross and Mohamed El-Erian boiled over .

I've never met either of them, but I always thought of Bill Gross, co-founder and co-chief investment officer of Pimco, and Mohamed El-Erian, its recently departed chief executive officer, as basically pillars of stability in the investing world, so I felt lost and scared after reading this Reuters article, in which Gross complains about the recent Wall Street Journal article on their falling-out and is quoted saying things like "I'm so sick of Mohamed trying to undermine me" and "You're on his side. Great, he's got you, too, wrapped around his charming right finger." Also Gross apparently "told Reuters that he had 'evidence' that El-Erian 'wrote'" that Journal article, which led Reuters to, somewhat hilariously, call Dow Jones for comment. (Comment: "astoundingly incorrect.") A Pimco spokesman also said that Gross "did not make the statements Reuters attributes to him" and that he never said that El-Erian "wrote" the Journal article. So I guess everyone agrees that El-Erian did not write that negative article about Gross. The rest, I mean, what? I need an adult.

The long-simmering tensions between Salvatore's and Goldman boiled over .

A former barber at Salvatore's, the, um, much-written-about barber shop that is effectively a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, spoke to the Times about how much he hated cutting hair for Goldman bankers. And then several former Goldman bankers spoke to Twitter about how much they hated getting their hair cut at Salvatore's. You be the judge! Previously in haircut journalism, many financial bloggers prefer Benny's in Park Slope, although it is not downstairs from an investment bank.

Meet the buyers of JPMorgan's physical commodities business, maybe .

It's Mercuria Energy Group, which is in exclusive talks and "will probably announce a deal within the next week." (And which is "named for the Roman god of trade" and, I mean, sure, okay. Mercuria?) The vague regulatory notion that banks should not control both physical assets and trading businesses does not seem to apply to private trading groups, even if some of those groups, like Mercuria, are staffed largely by former bank traders.

There are a lot of IPOs .

"In the first two months of this year, 42 companies went public in the U.S., raising $8.3 billion and tying 2007 for the busiest start to a year for initial public offerings since 2000, when there were 77." Man, 2000 was nuts. But yes, stocks are up, the taper looms over us all, something about the JOBS Act maybe, it's a good time to sell stocks. Also I mean WhatsApp just cleared $19 billion by acquisition so it's not just public markets who are cheery about valuation.

"Why the new shoeshine boy trade is shorting volatility."

Possibly an exaggeration? A useful takeaway is that there's some plausible mapping between "long equities" and "short volatility," so Chris Cole can meaningfully compare their risk/reward propositions and find that long S&P is better than short VIX. But shorting VIX is, like, sexier or whatever.

How is your Bitcoin tolerance ?

If your answer, like mine, is "I will only accept absurdist fantasies that take off from some topical premise loosely related to Bitcoin," then go read Mallory Ortberg's "An Interview With The Recently-Outed Inventor of Bitcoin." If you're like "I need to hear more about blockchains" then I can't really help you. Maybe you'll enjoy this? I don't know.

How is your @GSElevator tolerance ?

If it's low, good news, Simon & Schuster has canceled its deal to publish "Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking." Goldman Sachs is pleased, and possibly having more fun than it's supposed to with this story.

This is the least useful financial Web site in the world.

Also the only one that features Beyoncé. Actually that can't be true. One of the ones that feature Beyoncé.

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    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

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