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Here’s a media circusabout a media circus.
So let’s see here. Donald Trump’s son-in-law owns the New York Observer, a small newspaper that just published a 7,000-word hatchet job on New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The New York Times dug into the origins of the article, which defended Trump’s honor and besmirched Schneiderman. The Times tracked down the guy who originally had been hired to write the story, in spite of having no journalistic experience, and found out he turned down the assignment after becoming convinced the Observer wanted him to do a smear piece on Schneiderman. It’s a high-society imbroglio, indeed, and great fun to read.
And now on to some high-society intrigue about Bitcoin.
Bloomberg News reports that the Bitcoin Foundation, an advocacy group for the digital currency, provided information to federal prosecutors that aided an investigation of the Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, which collapsed this week: “Shortly after Mt. Gox’s chief executive officer, Mark Karpeles, quit the foundation’s board on Feb. 24, the group briefed the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office with information about the possible theft of as much as $400 million from the Bitcoin exchange, according to two people familiar with the effort.”
So who will bail out RBS next time if Scotland gains independence from the U.K.?
It’s a rhetorical question, sure, but worth asking. Because Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc just reported a net loss of 9 billion pounds ($15 billion) for 2013. Banker bonuses were 576 million pounds, which was a nice touch. (It’s hard work losing that much money in a year.) Now the bank, still majority-owned by the U.K. government, says it will cut 5 billion pounds in costs over the next four years. Why not just wind it down? OK, because the global capital markets might freak out. But still, things can’t go on like this forever, can they?
More musings on Facebook’s big deal.
One of my favorite websites about valuation, Musings on Markets, has a new piece analyzing Facebook’s $19 billion purchase price for WhatsApp. New York University finance professor Aswath Damodaran writes: “I don't think that Facebook's management is doing this deal for defensive reasons or because they have explicit plans for generating value, at least as of now. It is WhatsApp's large, growing and engaged user base that makes it so attractive to Facebook, especially given how much the market is pricing all of those factors. You may find it difficult to believe that someone as smart as Mark Zuckerberg would pay $19 billion without a clear vision of how he plans to make money off the deal, but I don't.”
Great leaders of people have great cultural propaganda moment.
China’s government has released the first official state cartoons of Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping.
(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)
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