Dear readers, without further ado, my afternoon reads.
Banks are rigging more markets than you ever imagined
Libor. Electricity prices. Foreign-exchange markets. What else? A benchmark for interest-rate derivatives called ISDAfix. How perfect -- it even has the word “fix” in its name. From Matthew Leising of Bloomberg News: “U.S. investigators have uncovered evidence that banks reaped millions of dollars in trading profits at the expense of companies and pension funds by manipulating a benchmark for interest-rate derivatives. Recorded telephone calls and e-mails reviewed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show that traders at Wall Street banks instructed ICAP Plc brokers in Jersey City, New Jersey, to buy or sell as many interest-rate swaps as necessary to move the benchmark rate, known as ISDAfix, to a predetermined level, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. By rigging the measure, the banks stood to profit on separate derivatives trades they had with clients who were seeking to hedge against moves in interest rates.”
Matt Taibbi on Steven Cohen and SAC Capital
Somehow Taibbi managed to write an entire article for Rolling Stone magazine without using a single swear word, which I think might be a first for him. Impressive. The big question, as he puts it: “Does bagging a single hedge-fund slimeball make up for years of nonaction against more dangerous systemic corruption among the big banking powers?”
Would you hire Larry Summers for economic advice?
Bloomberg News had an article today pointing out that the former Treasury secretary’s personal website doesn’t mention his consulting work for Citigroup, Nasdaq or hedge fund D.E. Shaw. John Tamny, editor of RealClearMarkets, says it’s laughable to think anyone hires Summers for his economic insights: “Summers is an investment. Skillful at the government game, investors have long assumed he would eventually return to government; his name on the short list for Fed Chairman evidence that their investment may pay off.”
How about some fries with that order of crow?
You see, there was this story making the rounds about Big Macs and wages that went viral -– and was totally wrong. (I won’t repeat the errors here.) Now a lot of the news outlets that ran with the story are doing retractions. But a lot of others aren’t. So Ryan Chittum of The Audit at Columbia Journalism School tries shaming them. And with that, have a great weekend.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)