Levine on Wall Street: Gaming the Banks

This linkwrap cites both Pierre Bourdieu and David Graeber, you really might as well be reading n+1.

Poor RBC.

Here Steven Davidoff points out that while, yes, Royal Bank of Canada didn't cover itself in glory in advising Rural Metro on its sale of the company, it's a little unfair that RBC should be on the hook for $250 million in damages while Rural Metro's directors just paid a few million dollars, all covered by insurance. Directors who do naughty things with their companies tend to have more legal protections than the bankers who advise them. There is a reason that investment banks want strong indemnification provisions on these assignments: They're working for a paltry few million dollars, but handling companies worth billions. The risk of liability is out of all proportion to the reward.

ING will be selling some ING U.S. stock.

And rebranding ING U.S. as Voya Financial. The sale came with some drama, as ING announced it accidentally yesterday morning. They really should make the FILE button on Securities and Exchange Commission filings smaller and less tempting. ING then "announce[d] that this information should be ignored until further notice," though a Form 6-K is, surprisingly, hard to unsee. Then it announced the sale again yesterday afternoon. I feel like if you actually ignored that information until further notice you'd feel a little whipsawed?

Don't day-trade using technical analysis.

Speaking of whipsawed, individual investors who make use of technical analysis behave exactly as you'd expect: they "are disproportionately prone to have speculation on short-term stock-market developments as their primary investment objective, hold more concentrated portfolios which they turn over at a higher rate, are less inclined to bet on reversals, choose risk exposures featuring a higher ratio of nonsystematic risk to total risk, engage in more options trading, and earn lower returns." Lower returns by at least 8.5 percent a year.

The U.K. should help Ukraine stiff Russia on its bonds.

Felix Salmon discusses the proposal; the gist is that Ukraine owes Russia billions of dollars in the form of U.K.-law Eurobonds, and that the U.K. could just declare those bonds unenforceable under U.K. law, helping Ukraine and punishing Russia. He worries about cross-defaults in other Ukrainian debt, though I feel like you could write the unenforceability law in a way that avoids cross-defaults?

Is that guy the Bitcoin guy ?

Seems like the answer is no, but if you're into that sort of thing, here is a whole lot of that sort of thing. (Via @felixsalmon.) In tangentially related, somewhat Orwellian, news, "virtual currency providers that comply with the law have nothing to fear," according to the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Should Venice adopt Dogecoin ?

Get it? (Venice used to be ruled by doges, and is voting on whether to secede from Italy, though that's sort of a joke too.) It is hard to tell exactly how serious this is, though the options range from "not very serious" to "extremely silly." But, if you're into that sort of thing, etc. etc. etc.

Investment bankers come from richer families than artists .

On average. Er, on median, really. This is counterintuitive but fascinating and might make you rethink your easy Bourdieuan assumptions about the relationship between social capital and financial capital, if you had such assumptions. Vaguely related, "art history majors are wildly overrepresented among those in the top 1 percent of incomes."

David Graeber on heterodox monetary economics .

How could you not read that, come on. A sample:

Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.

You know who else has a magic monetary wand ?

Here is the incredible true (?) (?????) story of a guy who banks at GameStop:

Now whenever I get paid I go preorder a whole [lot!] of games. Whenever I need money, I go to the nearest gamestop and ask for my money back on a game I don't want and make a withdrawal. The lines are shorter at gamestop than at the bank and I can trade in old games and have money go straight to my savings account.

The most amazing part is: "Gamestops are just as prevalent as banks in my town." There are 6,488 GameStops in the world. I think there are that many Chase branches in midtown.

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

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