Weil on Finance: Last of the Big-Time Spenders

Morning links with Bloomberg View financial columnist Jonathan Weil

Happy Friday, kind readers. Last linkfest for the week. Have a great weekend.

But at least they didn't buy a $35,000 commode on legs or a $15,000 dog umbrella stand.

Chris Cumming and Andy Peters of American Banker have an excellent story about hard times for a lender called CertusBank. If you're going to start a new company to buy failed banks in the South, here are some ways you shouldn't spend your investors' money, especially if the investors include hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson: "nearly $10 million paid to a consulting firm owned by Certus' top officers; $146,000 for three months of work by an executive's son fresh out of college; $2.5 million for three executive apartments and high-end upgrades; $347,000 for private plane trips; $131,000 for Carolina Panthers games; several hundred thousand dollars for sponsorships and charitable gifts; more than $500,000 for American Express bills; and $5,000 for upscale shoe retailer Steve Madden." But wait, there's more: "Certus also opened a new headquarters in one of Greenville, S.C.'s most expensive buildings. Amenities include a nearly $1 million art collection, a theater and a 13-foot touch-screen `media wall' that, the bank says, is the tallest in the United States. Another unusual feature: 300,000 pennies that a Certus official had affixed to the ceiling of an office suite."

Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat was caught by surprise when the bank failed the Fed's stress test.

And we probably shouldn't be surprised that he was surprised. The bank is too big to manage, so how would he know what's going on? Then again, shouldn't that fraud discovery in Mexico have been a tip-off that something might be wrong with Citigroup's controls?

Yes, the Fed's stress tests are opaque , but this whining by bankers is ridiculous.

This comes from the Financial Times: "Bank executives and investors lashed out at the Federal Reserve on Thursday, attacking its stress tests as `opaque' after the results battered Citigroup's share price and rattled banks around the world." You know some other things that are opaque? Banks! They want to get rid of opacity? How about publicly disclosing all of their bank-examiner reports and Camels ratings and ending regulatory secrecy altogether? Now there's a solution.

An end in sight to the 10-day disclosure window for large investors?

The Wall Street Journal's Michael Siconolfi and Susan Pulliam make a good point in this story. Why should large investors be allowed to secretly amass more than 5 percent of a public company without having to disclose their holdings promptly? "At issue is the time frame for investors who own 5 percent of a stock to file a report disclosing the size of their stake," they write. "A 1968 regulatory rule gives investors a 10-day window to announce their holdings." They also note that the Securities and Exchange Commission has the authority to change the rule: "In a 2011 letter to the SEC, law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz argued for cutting the 10-day period to one, saying the lag facilitates `market manipulation and abusive tactics.'"

Kevin Spacey is a lobbyist in real life , too.

Here's a fun story by Annie Linskey and William Selway of Bloomberg News about how the actor recently pressed flesh at a reception for state lawmakers in Annapolis, Maryland. Spacey and the producers of "House of Cards" are seeking millions of dollars of tax credits in exchange for filming their TV show in the state. Life imitating art, as they say: "There's a powerful lobbyist who once served prison time; a threatening Hollywood letter about the consequences of inaction; a bit part for the House speaker's wife in the show; and thousands of dollars spent to wine and dine the lawmakers with the clout to give the producers and Spacey what they want."

Here is the world's most boring product .

It's made by Sony. So as the writer of this article says, you're not going to buy it.

Hedge funds have feelings , too, you know.

SAC Capital Advisors LP told a federal judge it is "deeply remorseful" for the illegal acts of its employees. Crocodile tears are still flowing down the exterior walls of its headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut.

And back once again by popular demand, more pictures of Scout the pit bull balancing crazy stuff on his head .

You must see the one of him with the Crystal Head vodka bottle. The photo of him with the sombrero is cool, too.

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