Easy Street: Magical Laptops Full of Secret Information
Easy Street is our 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 your local station and time here.
Bankers & Finance
The New York Times has a story about Goldman Sachs and why Fabrice Tourre is the only one who’s been charged when all indications are that many people worked with him. This is the most amazing story you will ever read, anywhere, in financial journalism, largely because of these two paragraphs:
These legal replies, which are not public, were provided to The New York Times by Nancy Cohen, an artist and filmmaker in New York also known as Nancy Koan, who says she found the materials in a laptop she had been given by a friend in 2006.
The friend told her he had happened upon the laptop discarded in a garbage area in a downtown apartment building. E-mail messages for Mr. Tourre continued streaming into the device, but Ms. Cohen said she had ignored them until she heard Mr. Tourre’s name in news reports about the S.E.C. case. She then provided the material to The Times. Mr. Tourre’s lawyer did not respond to an inquiry for comment.
As you might suspect, this raises many questions: How did the laptop keep streaming email for four years? Did Mr. Tourre not change his password in all that time? Felix Salmon has a little more on this issue.
Easy Street note: a Google search shows that Nancy Cohen/Koan also works under another name, Arribella Pelicano, under which she made three movies, including one called “Which Witch,” in 2000.
Markets & Traders
Greece was downgraded by Moody’s today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all fell more than 2%, because a number of people don’t seem to know that the U.S. is not Greece.
Fund Managers & Investing
Standard & Poor’s has put a negative outlook on fund manager Alliance Bernstein:
“The outlook change reflects our opinion that continued net asset outflows in the short term could hurt the company’s market position and profitability metrics,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Vikas Jhaveri. The company has faced considerable net asset outflows in every quarter since 2008, which has held down total assets under management (AUM). Specifically, the company suffered outflows of $44 billion, $70 billion, and $56 billion of net asset outflows in 2008, 2009, and 2010, respectively. This has continued into 2011, with net asset outflows of $20 billion through April. The majority of the net asset outflows have been concentrated in the company’s institutional equity platform. We believe this is largely due to poor investment performance of the company’s flagship value and growth strategies in 2008. Although investment performance has improved in recent quarters, we believe it could still take some time for the flows to reverse.
Politicians & Regulation
Hedge funds want to ask the SEC what it is looking for when it examines insider trading. The SEC isn’t so sure it wants to show its cards.