Levine on Wall Street: Constant Disappointment

Matt Levine is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was an editor of Dealbreaker, an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
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Credit Suisse's earnings disappointed.

Turns out investment banking is not the place to be this quarter, if you are a global megabank.

BofA's earnings disappointed .

Even worse than investment banking, though, is being in the business of settling massive mortgage lawsuits every five minutes. "For the first quarter, Bank of America's litigation expense was $6 billion compared with $2.2 billion a year earlier and $2.3 billion in the fourth quarter."

Moelis's IPO disappointed .

The investment banking boutique's initial public offering priced at $25, below the $26-29 range, and downsized to 6.5 million shares, versus the 7.3 million that were offered. So that's not a great sign for ... IPOs? Investment banks? General market confidence? Moelis picked perhaps not the best week to sell, but of course any investment banker will tell you, "if I could predict the market I wouldn't be working here." Anyway Moelis ended up raising $162.5 million, of which $141 million will go straight to its partners, which seems like the right split.

Alibaba's IPO, on the other hand .

Will be Facebook-sized. "Yahoo shares, which are closely tied to Alibaba's prospects, jumped more than 6% in after-hours trading Tuesday to $36.62, after a 2.3% rise during market hours," mostly on positive Alibaba earnings news reported by Yahoo, which owns a chunk of Alibaba and not a whole lot else. It's hard to figure out the right price for an IPO but it helps when you've got an already public proxy to work from. Meanwhile Citic is doing "what amounts to a backdoor listing in Hong Kong valuing the company at about $36.5 billion."

Insider control isn't all bad.

Putting this here as a data point: "In 2004, there were 27 Fortune 500 companies that had a founder at the helm of the company who also had significant ownership control," including Amazon, Apple, and Countrywide. The stock price return of those companies in the intervening 10 years is 327 percent, versus 166 percent for the S&P, though with a certain amount of dispersion (Countrywide!). The offered rationale is that "founders/CEOs who are more secure in their positions and can afford to take a long-term visionary approach to running their businesses" have more upside than the usual time-server slaves to the short-term whims of the public markets.

It's about the journey, not the destination .

Apparently if you're a special snowflake in your late twenties or early thirties and a recent graduate of an elite business school , working at a job isn't cool enough for you. "I wanted to be the one making decisions," says 29-year-old Stanford grad Alex Gelman. So he made the decision to "raise money from friends, family, business associates or other investors" and then go looking to buy a company, because why work for a company when a company could work for you? Actually why work at all? Gelman

has been looking for the right company to acquire for seven months. "I have a giant calendar on my wall and I cross off a day every day," he said. "It's a ticking clock."

Sounds rough. I imagine him on a fainting couch with his forearm covering his face, moaning about how taxing it is not to buy a company for seven months, and about how those 200-odd crossed off days torment him. Millennials!

Helicopter parents go to business school.

This gets its own "Millennials!" It's about an MBA admissions consultant who thinks that the parents are too involved, which is saying something. Come on.

Things happen.

Martin Wolf on "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." Moe Tkacik on "Flash Boys." "AIM became how all Wall Street communicated." Don't read too much into the conflict minerals decision. "Who Tweets? Brands, and people who believe themselves to be brands." "Goldman Sachs CEO Retains Sense of Childlike Wonder." You think your client dinners are rough?

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