Easy Street

Easy Street: The Financial Crisis, in Tattoo Form

Heidi Moore May 9, 2011

Easy Street is Marketplace’s daily roundup of the most interesting news stories and commentary about Wall Street, Washington and the curious world of finance. You can see more of what we think are the biggest stories of the day on our News in Brief page. Every day, you can download Marketplace’s daily show on iTunes and follow us for more headlines at twitter.com/mktplaceradio. If you want to listen to Marketplace on the radio, find out [which stations carry us and what time we’re on](().


The prosecutors trying to nab Galleon Capital chief Raj Rajaratnam for insider trading thought that wiretaps were their most powerful weapon. But lo! The wiretaps don’t seem to have made a solid impression on the jury, which still appears confused and asked to listen to some of the tapes again.


We’ve had a micro-plunge and a mini-recovery in commodities all in one week, apparently. Our bubbles are now on fast-forward.

Related: Silver went from shiny metal to bubblicious property to sad fizzle all in six days. Beat that. Remember to go out to bars in the Financial District tonight to hear drunken guys with ties askew saying, “Hey, Matt, remember silver? Remember when it went up and up and…..Yeah. That was great. That was great, man. These metals today, they’re not like that any more.”


Citigroup steps tentatively back into respectability with a newly split stock price that costs more than one day’s public transportation.

Tom Brady seen in all his long-haired glory at Goldman Sachs. We can’t wait for the Vanity Fair excerpt where this turns out to have been part of a secret meeting about the future of testosterone.

From The Wall Street Journal’s FINS careers site, this interesting observation by Kyle Stock:

Friday’s jobs report was bittersweet for finance and insurance companies.

On the plus side, some 2,600 people were added to the payrolls of commercial banks in April, making a gain of 15,200 for the 12-month period. Meanwhile, 700 additional workers signed on to investment banks and brokerages, ticking the yearly gain to 6,500.

The insurance sector, however, did not fare as well. It shed 2,300 jobs in April, dragging headcount to 1,400 below its year-earlier levels.

Of course, jobs reports are kind of like oysters; you hope for a good one and try not to look at it too closely. With 268,000 new private-sector positions, Friday’s report was certainly a good one.

From PE Pitchbook, it appears that private equity investors are taking less of an interest in banks:

Since the beginning of 2009, 155 PE investors have invested in 246 companies in the Financial Services industry, according to the PitchBook Platform. Deal activity in the industry jumped from 88 completed deals in 2009 to 130 in 2010. So far, 35 deals have closed during 2011, putting the year ahead of 2009’s deal pace but behind 2010’s.

During both 2009 and 2010, Commercial Banks was the most active Financial Services sector. However, this year, PE investors have taken greater interest in other sectors. While 23% of 2011’s completed Financial Services deals have involved Commercial Banks, the Insurance sector has snatched up a 37% share, followed by Capital Markets/Institutions with 26%.

The most active PE investors during the period include Stone Point Capital (17 deals), GS Capital Partners (12), Parthenon Capital Partners (12) and Lightyear Capital (10).

The Washington Matrix

More background on Steve Cohen, the hedge-fund impresario that runs SAC Capital.

John Boehner wants to make sure that he can still push hard on the debt ceiling but remain one of Wall Street’s cool kids.

Related: In order for lawmakers to keep the debt ceiling at its current level, they would have to cut $2 trillion from the U.S. budget. Easy-peasy.

Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley is curious about the “corporate culture” at high-flying hedge fund SAC Capital. Let’s not assume it’s because lawmakers will want Wall Street jobs later.

Around the World

The economics of the war on terror.

The real reason Greece is in the news: it gives many journalists who majored in literature the chance to churn out metaphors about Icarus, says Josh at The Reformed Broker.

Recreational Reading

Tiger Leaders: Wesley Yang asks why Asians are tops in admissions to competitive schools but rarely make it to the management suite.

Recessionary music and poetry, courtesy of Jenn & Johnny:

Living your life in the gray/Is the new American way/We’re spending what we haven’t made
And we save our money in good faith/And we work hard for our living wage/But still the banks gotta break
‘Cause the dream’s a lie/And the snake, it bit you/When you were awake/And the books all fried
/You are bankrupting/Because all the loans you take.

The financial crisis in one handy tattoo: surely you remember the formula that caused the financial crisis. But you haven’t seen it like this, from a creative friend of Marketplace who works for an advertising firm, based in Portland. He enlisted “the ever-brilliant designer James Tung, computational typeface author Donald Knuth, and the steady hand of Cheyenne at Atlas Tattoo, according to his Facebook post:

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