Levine on Wall Street: Pigs Get Fed, Fake Hogs Get Slaughtered

Soon the S&P 500 will have 501 stocks, there will be regulated bitcoin exchanges, and we'll be ruled by robots.

The S&P 501 Index.

No, I kid. But Google's decision to have two publicly traded classes of stock, the low-vote A and the no-vote C, has convinced Standard & Poor's to include both classes in its indices:

The move marks a change to the index's current practice, which is to have a company represented only once in its market indicators. As a result, its benchmark S&P 500 index will have more than 500 stocks, but the amount of companies represented will still be 500.

This sort of thing came up less when big companies didn't list with multiple share classes as a matter of course.

Banks are keeping copper locked in warehouses, artificially inflating its price.

I don't know if that's true. But read this story about how copper prices are plunging --

Copper has become an increasingly popular source of collateral for Chinese traders who can obtain US dollar loans and profit from interest rate arbitrage. As a result, copper imports have rocketed in recent months, with much of the stock headed into warehouses rather than factories.

If the financing deals were to suddenly unwind, vast quantities of metal would pour into an already well-supplied market.

-- and compare it to this famously confusing story about aluminum warehousing. The parallels are instructive. Here is Izabella Kaminska on metals warehousing, from July.

Does your bacon come from fake hogs ?

Here is a Securities and Exchange Commission case against some executives at U.S. listed China-based AgFeed Industries Inc., who "inflated revenues by, among other things, booking sales of non-existent hogs and by manipulating hog weights, and later covered it up by, among other things, reporting that the fake hogs had died." Poor fake hogs. "On an annual basis, the fraud caused overstated revenue ranging from approximately 71% to 103%," and I guess if you're going to book sales of fake hogs, you might as well book sales of a lot of fake hogs. Your marginal cost of producing another fake hog is very low. Also charged is the former chairman of AgFeed's audit committee, Van Gothner, who seems not to have been great at running an audit committee:

He sought advice from a former director and company advisor who responded in e-mail communications that there was "not just smoke but fire" and recommended that AgFeed hire professional investigators guided by outside legal counsel. However, Gothner ignored the recommendation and internalized the situation while false financial reporting continued.

Are you crushing fake candy?

Apparently a lot of you are, since King Digital Entertainment, which makes Candy Crush Saga, is planning to sell 22.2 million shares in its initial public offering at a price range of $21 to $24 a share. About a third of that will come from selling shareholders; the remainder is primary shares, raising about $326 million for the cash-rich company with no particular use of proceeds. Here Felix Salmon explains top-ticking.

Bill Gross is overpaid, says guy who pays him.

"I don't know if Secretariat made $200 million a year," says a Pimco trustee, and you feel like the whole interview might have been set up because he had that line and needed to say it to someone. (To be fair, "The Pimco trustees' duties include negotiating fund management contracts with Pimco, having its results audited and tracking the performance of the funds and their management fees. Their oversight does not extend to how Pimco's executives are compensated," though there's a fairly straight line from "negotiate management contracts" to "negotiate managers' pay.")

.72AM for short.

I guess the world has moved on, but SAC Capital Advisors is now Point72 Asset Management. Also it is no longer a hedge fund, though if you're looking for hedge funds named for numbers between zero and one there are still options available to you.

How's your Bitcoin tolerance ?

Ben Lawsky's is strangely high: "On Tuesday, Benjamin M. Lawsky, the superintendent of the state's Department of Financial Services, issued his first public order on virtual currencies like Bitcoin, calling for proposals for creating regulated exchanges." OK. Regulators have long sought media attention, but I worry that this is what happens when a regulator seeks viral social media attention. 1 You'll never believe what will happen next. Probably he'll get some proposals and then have a press conference

Watch out for drones .

I have a soft spot for end-of-work dystopias (here's a good one) and this one is pretty dystopic. The theory is that not only will robots put everyone out of work and precipitate a revolution of the proletariat, they will also put down that revolution. That can't be good.

Tip your barista .

While we're discussing class conflict, I enjoyed this long essay about the meaning of service labor in Brooklyn. This is not strictly "on Wall Street" but you probably drink coffee, and anyway, it's my linkwrap so I'm linking to it. Here is another, rather more dystopic story of a journalist working in retail.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.
  1. Possibly related: "FINRA Issues New Investor Alert, Bitcoin: More than a Bit Risky."

(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

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