Levine on Wall Street: The Start of the S&P 501 Era

The main takeaway here is that Crats, not Clats, are like Grats. Also Warren Buffett is long cats. This week is weird.

So long Blythe .

JPMorgan says that Blythe Masters "has informed us of her intention to leave the firm, take some well-deserved time off and consider future opportunities." This is an obvious loss for the bank and I hope they tried to keep her; I feel like no amount of money or power is too much to give the person who invented credit default swaps and also did this. On the other hand if I had invented credit default swaps, I would just retire and spend my days telling war stories to financial journalists, HINT HINT HINT.

Happy Google stock split day .

I once thought I'd hacked Google's dual-class structure, which has a weird true-up next year if the two classes trade at different prices, but the final settlement seems to avoid my trick. So all you can do with Google's split into low-vote Class A and no-vote Class C stock, preserving its founders' majority voting control, is complain about the decline in modern corporate governance standards that started with Google. Also the S&P 500 now has 501 stocks in it.

High-frequency trading leads to frequent code-stealing accusations .

This one is about SXP Analytics, accused of stealing trading code from Quantlab Financial. As part of the case, "more than 70 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided SXP offices and employees' homes in seven states, seizing computers, servers and flash drives." So I know the FBI is supposedly looking into the problems of high-frequency trading, but I am skeptical that the FBI is the best agency to address the structural implications of high-frequency trading. They're definitely the best agency to kick down doors looking for stolen trading code, but that is not at all the same thing.

The London vice-whale is okay with facing criminal charges .

"A lawyer for a former JPMorgan Chase & Co trader accused of helping to hide trading losses tied to a $6.2 billion financial scandal said on Wednesday his client was open to leaving France to voluntarily face U.S. criminal charges," depending on what bail conditions are on offer. The conditions on offer include "facing criminal charges," though, so ... I don't know, it doesn't seem like a great deal?

BofA's acquisition of Merrill Lynch was not pristine.

I wouldn't go as far as Jesse Eisinger does here but, really, you shouldn't ask your shareholders to vote to approve a merger without telling them about billions of dollars of losses at the target company. I can't tell you the "right" penalty for doing that, but I could perhaps be persuaded that Ken Lewis's -- "a modest penalty, paid for by his former employer, and a temporary ban from an industry he is no longer a part of" -- is on the light side.

The Cyprus bailout was great .

Says Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who should know, since he's in charge of it as eurogroup president. He told people in Cyprus about how good the bailout was, noting that "If you lose 6 per cent of your economy in one year's time, that is a very hard hit. But if you look at it in a more technocratic way, the programme is a success." I'm sure that was very reassuring. Dijsselbloem should be good at this by now, "having made similar criticism-filled visits to Lisbon, Athens and Madrid since assuming the eurogroup presidency in January 2013."

Distressed debt trading got harder.

Because maybe you're not allowed to sell debt to hedge funds? Bankruptcy law is a weird beast because it seems to be made mostly by private lawyers but every so often intersects awkwardly with actual courts. As here:

The loan agreement looks to be pretty standard for anyone who has seen a few syndicated loan agreements. But it nonetheless seems to have thrown the federal courts in Washington State for a bit of a loop.

So the court nixed a loan sale that seems pretty clearly to have been allowed under the terms of the agreement, throwing the borrower's bankruptcy case -- and quite possibly a lot of future bankruptcy cases -- into confusion.

High-frequency trading is not like ...

... Superman III. Disneyland. Or "adog running off with your sausages." However, a true national market system should enforce time priority across all venues.

Things happen .

"Can Robots Be Managers, Too?" "Open-toed rainboots." Subway "is within inches of" settling a lawsuit over how long a Footlong is. "Obamacare for the mortgage industry." "Cats, cats are up slightly." Crats, not Clats, are like Grats.

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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