Signs of the times
A whale of a fine(s): It has been an expensive year for JPMorgan as it agreed to pay $20 billion in legal settlements for various misdeeds ranging from dodgy marketing of mortgage-backed securities of affiliates to the London Whale to Bernie Madoff to Libor manipulation.
Bitcoin bubble/fever: After starting the year around $20, Bitcoin exploded onto the world scene after the Silk Road website was busted and governments around the world considered the legitimacy of the crypto-currency. At one point, one Bitcoin was fetching more than $1,000. Hope you don’t lose your digital wallet.
Dooley gets five years: Evan Brent Dooley, who was caught making unauthorized trades in wheat at MF Global in 2008, is going to prison. His trades lost the firm more than $141 million; if he had lost $150 billion he may have gotten away with a fine!
MF Global customers made whole: Media reports presenting this as a victory for the victims of the MF Global debacle but if it took two years for the victims of MF Global to pay their bills, those bills may have doubled with interest and fines, or they would have been foreclosed on.
Off the charts
Viagra anyone?: Media company Bloomberg launched an attack on alternatives in 2013, first with this edgy cover that seemed to question the virility of hedge fund managers and later with an unbalanced attack on managed futures.
Don’t read the brown tweets!: In the same year that Twitter had a successful IPO, a single tweet nearly crashed the markets after AP News had its Twitter account hacked and someone posted a fake tweet about an explosion at the White House.
Justice delayed: The U.S. Department of Justice sued Standard and Poor’s over alleged misrepresentations to inflate ratings for certain structured debt securities. You know, the products that crashed the economy in 2008. What have they been doing for six years? Later Reuters reported that the liquidators of two Bear Stearns hedge funds filed suit against the three major U.S. rating agencies (Fitch, Moody’s & Standard & Poor’s), accusing them of fraudulently assigning inflated ratings to securities in the run-up to the financial crisis.
Stealing made easy: The sovereign debt crisis in Europe came to a head in Cyprus after bank deposits were raided to pay for the next bail-out.
The industry said good-bye to two much-loved innovators. Barry Lind, one of the co-founders of Lind-Waldock, died in a car crash in January, and Elizabeth Cheval, founder of EMC Capital and one of the original Turtles, died of a brain aneurism in March.