Levine on Wall Street: Valuable Insights

INSIGHTS: send anonymous rumors to me, don't randomly generate fake documents, don't go to HBX, and if a company holds its annual meeting in Antarctica, sell. Also, no bitcoins.

David Einhorn gets satisfaction.

Einhorn dropped his attempt to get Seeking Alpha to reveal the name of the pseudonymous blogger, "Valuable Insights," who had disclosed Greenlight Capital's position in Micron stock before Einhorn did. Seeking Alpha says "It seems they were able to contact the author, who convinced Greenlight that he had built his thesis by joining the dots on publicly-available information," and if this is true one hopes that Valuable Insights will give a clinic on how exactly he did that. Einhorn appears to disagree with this assessment, and says he has identified the blogger; if this is true one hopes that Einhorn will eventually explain how he exacted his revenge. Felix Salmon thinks the lawsuit was chilling to media organizations but I'm not so sure; the function of traditional media is to stand as a middleman between anonymous sources and publication. If you want to anonymously publish rumors about David Einhorn, don't put them on Seeking Alpha! Send them to me!

Madoff's helpers get convicted .

"Messrs. O'Hara and Perez created computer programs to randomly generate false documents, while Ms. Bongiorno and Ms. Crupi backdated nonexistent trades," and it is hard to imagine innocent explanations for that activity. If you're randomly generating documents, something has gone wrong.

The Fed is worried about mortgage putbacks .

Banks have paid billions and billions and billions and billions and some other billions of dollars to settle lawsuits over fraudulent sales of mortgage-backed securities, but not that many billions. Like, low tens of billions, probably. The Fed's stress tests include $151 billion of losses for "operational risk," mainly MBS litigation. Some banks think this number is too high, but "The Fed did its own analysis of legal settlements and made an extrapolation of what a negative - but, alarmingly, not worst case - outcome would look like." The worst part here is that it assumes that, in the next crisis, the banks will have learned nothing from their past mistakes, and will get up to even more mortgage/Libor/whatever fraud than they did last time.

How much is a CEO worth ?

I'm late to this but who can resist CEO self-deprecation? The chief executive of Bakken shale pioneer Continental Resources, Harold Hamm, is getting divorced, and "State law gives Mrs. Hamm the right to half of the increase in value of Mr. Hamm's premarital shares if she can prove the company's stock price rose over the course of their marriage because of her husband's efforts." So she is arguing that Continental's performance is due entirely to his efforts, and he is incentivized to argue that "factors beyond his control—like high oil prices—are responsible for the company's spectacular returns." Precisely the opposite of what CEOs usually argue.

Oh, Bitcoin swaps.

"It provides a tool for a natural hedge to get relief from the price changes in Bitcoin," says a guy, but who is naturally long Bitcoins? The natural way to get relief from the price changes in Bitcoin is not to buy Bitcoins, this is investment advice. Meanwhile as the rewards of mining bitcoins decrease, it will be harder to incentivize people to verify Bitcoin transactions and keep the system stable, making claims that Bitcoin will be a permanent low-cost way to transfer money somewhat suspect.

Over any long enough period, the best performing growth stock will outperform the worst performing value stock.

Would you buy Wal-Mart at a 600 P/E? In 1974?

If a company holds its annual meeting in Antarctica , something has gone wrong.

"When companies move their annual meetings a great distance from headquarters, they tend to announce disappointing earnings results and experience pronounced stock market underperformance in the months after the meeting. Companies appear to schedule meetings in remote locations when the managers have private, adverse information about future performance and wish to discourage scrutiny by shareholders, activists, and the media. However, shareholders do not appear to decode this signal, since the disclosure of meeting locations leads to little immediate stock price reaction." But now you know.

Get your CORe at Harvard Business Xchool .

Harvard Business School is opening HBX, "a new digital learning platform that will provide business-focused online courses for students and professionals not enrolled in the Business School," and it sounds like a doozy. It will start by offering a "Credential of Readiness" -- good lord, for what? -- or "CORe," and the dean promises that it "will provide a powerful channel for communicating ideas to and engaging with new and wider audiences." Will there be xynergies between HBX and Harvard's other X-branded initiatives, edX and HarvardX, you axk? Why yes indeed: "The X in all of these initiatives underscores the intended synergies between them—namely best practice and research," says the business school's chief marketing offixer.

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:
    Zara Kessler at zkessler@bloomberg.net

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