Weil on Finance: Seeking Mr. Bitcoin

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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Howdy, View fans. Here are your annotated morning links.

Can Newsweek prove its Bitcoin theory ?

Surely Newsweek knows it will have to do better than the terse statement it posted after Dorian S. Nakamoto -- the guy it identified in a cover story as the creator of Bitcoin -- categorically denied that he had anything to do with Bitcoin. "Newsweek has not received any statement or letter from Mr. Nakamoto or his legal counsel," the magazine said. "If and when we do, we will respond as necessary." It seems every other major news organization in the country received the statement yesterday. You can read it yourself by clicking on the second link. Newsweek editors need to explain whether they can prove that Nakamoto is who they said he is. Because why did they run the story if they can't?

Investing in an Ireland ETF just because yesterday was St. Patrick's Day is a stupid idea.

But we get articles like this one every year around every major holiday. Some business journalist says: "Hey, St. Patrick's Day is coming up. Let's do an Ireland-themed investment story!" And some other poor sap replies: "Great! That sounds like a terrific reason to risk the kids' college money on an exchange-traded fund that captures a bit o' the Emerald Isle." So you get stories like this one at Traders Reserve that started: "This St. Patrick's Day is doubly special for the Irish -- and investors in iShares MSCI Ireland Capped ETF, an investment that captures a bit o' the Emerald Isle." And now that the Guinness and Jameson have worn off, let's be clear: Investing this way in real life is a horrible idea. I hope nobody out there does it.

Large banks don't like the idea of a new tax on large banks.

Imagine that. You can read about their lobbying campaign targeting Republican lawmakers in this fine Wall Street Journal article. Of course, the congressman who proposed this bill is a Republican. So the politics are complicated, except for the part about large banks not liking taxes on large banks. That part is simple and straightforward.

" Londongrad " dealmakers hurt by sanctions against Russia.

Good article here from Matthew Campbell and Morgane Lapeyre of Bloomberg News: "Russian companies have made $180 billion in deals globally in the past two years, providing steady profits to London bankers, lawyers, and image crafters as the city has become a hub for such transactions. Sanctions being imposed by the U.S. and European Union threaten that business."

Another day, another government bailout in China's shadow-banking system, maybe.

Keep an eye on this one. Sooner or later the credit bubble there has to blow. From the Financial Times: "China's central bank and one of its largest state lenders are holding emergency talks over whether to bail out a defaulting real estate developer. The talks come barely a week after Premier Li Keqiang dubbed defaults `unavoidable,' highlighting the tightrope officials tread between courting moral hazard and undermining the debt-laden financial sector."

Three cheers for auditor independence at KPMG .

KPMG has told its employees that neither they nor their immediate family members are allowed to enter the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge with Yahoo Sports, according to Going Concern. The accounting firm was picked to serve as an "independent observer" of the March Madness college basketball playoff contest. So it must stay pure. Now if only KPMG could tell us what really happened with its auditor-independence problems at General Electric Co.

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

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net