Tag Archives: Markets coverage
by Chris Roush
Charles Abbott, who covers farm, food and agricultural policy reporting as well as covering biofuels for Reuters out of Washington, is leaving the news agency.
Abbott sent out the following short email — titled 22 years, 22 words — to his colleagues:
in unity there is strength.
the esteem of one’s peers is a treasure.
you’re only as good as your last story.
Abbott’s work ranges from tracking of legislative to spearheading coverage of the major economic indicator for agriculture, the monthly crop report. During his time in Washington, free market reforms reduced the government role in crop output while land stewardship became a prominent goal.
Abboutt also developed formulas that allow the translation of an early bit of information, such as planted area for a crop, into the likely harvest five months in the future.
Abbott was previously the national farm editor at United Press International from June 1988 to December 1991.
by Chris Roush
Bob Burgdorfer, who covered the livestock markets for Reuters out of its Chicago bureau, is leaving the news agency.
Here is his farewell message:
Twenty six years ago Chicago bureau chief Chuck Kershner interviewed me for a Reuters job—I didn’t get it, Vicki Allen did (who was a great hire), but he promised to call me if a job opened. A year later it did in Chicago, he offered and I took it. I have had a ball ever since.
After working for a number of dailies—I really enjoyed hearing sources say “It’s Reuters!” when I called. That name got attention and still does. What a rush!
Like many of my talented and supportive colleagues, I will leave today. Stay in touch.
Burgdorfer covered the cattle, hog, and poultry markets as well as the meat processing companies, such as Tyson Foods, Smithfields Foods, JBS, Pilgrim’s Pride and Sanderson Farms. His coverage included meat exports, animal diseases and government regulations that affect the meat industry.
by Chris Roush
Ellen Freilich, who covers the U.S. Treasury market, including developments in monetary policy and the economy for Reuters out of New York, is leaving the news agency.
She sent the following message to her colleagues on Tuesday:
First, a little known fact: in the first lavatory on the left in a cafe called Cup o’ Joe in Kfar Saba, Israel, you can find a photo of Times Square with the vertical Reuters sign at 3 Times Square prominently in the foreground. Talk about global reach! But oddities aside, here are a few parting thoughts to join the many – too many – we have already experienced. First, I thank Rudi Saks for hiring me in 1987. Second, I thank President Obama and his Affordable Care Act which I hope will really be hitting its stride by the time I need to sign up for it. Third, I’m grateful to live in the great State of New York where the governor and public health officials got busy and created the New York State of Health website to ease entry into the new – and long overdue – health insurance system.
I want to note some of the memorable veterans who populated Reuters when I arrived: Rudi Saks, the late Art Spiegelman, the voluble and well-traveled Michael Arkus, Alan Barker and the man with the rapier wit, Peter Knight-Barnard.
Some Reuters correspondents have memories from far-flung places, but those of us who serve by staying home are much affected by where and with whom we sit in the newsroom. Just a few of my neighbors through the years – whose intelligence and wit kept the atmosphere challenging and lively – include Arshad Mohammed, Pedro da Costa, Toby Zakaria and Burton Frierson.
My most recent neighborhood of friends and colleagues on the Treasury, foreign exchange and municipal bond desks was also felicitous. (Greetings from Jerusalem to Gertrude, Ed, Dan, Richard, Karen, Caryn, Pam, Hilary and Wanfeng!) We had great cooperation on matters of substance — the news occurring outside the newsroom. Unfortunately, there seemed to be even more news happening inside the newsroom as we witnessed a constant stream of mostly regrettable conversations – and ensuing speculation – going on in glass rooms and behind opaque closed doors. The editorial discussions in New York gave daily evidence of the paucity of women in these conversations — and certainly the absence of women who had had the temerity to have children.
My career at Reuters included covering stocks, retailers, aerospace and defense companies during the first Gulf War, and finally the Treasury market. Covering markets that more or less open and close at reliable times was easier to juggle with the responsibilities of raising children. In between, I managed to teach a writing class at Barnard in the fall of 2001 when the events of 9-11 up-ended a semester’s worth of lesson plans. I wrote periodic columns on children’s books for six or seven years at Reuters which enabled me to donate hundreds and hundreds of books to classroom and school libraries. I managed to write about quite a few exhibits – on art, architecture and photography, as well as a too rare piece on classical music or opera. And for about six years I managed to shuttle my sons back and forth to The Metropolitan Opera where they worked as members of the Children’s Chorus – essentially a full-time job for at least one of them and at least a part-time one for me, the chauffeur. Getting home from “Carmen” at midnight — or even later from Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and getting in for the early market shift the next day — this was my life as a working mother and well worth the effort.
I want to say one word about cultural coverage. Although it’s great for people like me to have an opportunity to write about our passions, as a recent memo put it, serious cultural coverage — and many of our banking clients are patrons of the world’s major arts organizations — is not a patchwork quilt of people’s hobbies or even interests. We’re a global news organization and theater, opera and music are global communities. It’s a natural fit.
Finally, from early on, I was involved with the union, the Newspaper Guild of America, now part of the Communications Workers of America and founded by Algonquin Roundtable member Heywood Broun (that one is for you, Jim Gaines.) Many of us who have an innate understanding of the role of a union learned it at our mother’s (in this case father’s) knee. My father was an orchestra musician, a violinist in The Cleveland Orchestra, and I learned first-hand how each new contract could improve the economic life of our family. Of course those were the days when unions could make meaningful strides. Now, often, unions are exercising damage control, trying to limit losses for workers and eking out incremental gains. Still, we learned in school that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unions – to some extent – temper the power of management and this is, as some readers will recognize, A Good Thing.
by Chris Roush
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is investigating the fees charged to investors in the managed futures market after a story in Bloomberg Markets magazine raised questions about them, reports David Evans of Bloomberg News.
Evans writes, “CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton says the agency initiated the inquiry after Bloomberg Markets magazine reported in its November issue that 89 percent of the $11.51 billion profits of 63 managed futures funds was consumed by commissions, fees and expenses.
“‘Of all a regulator’s duties, first amongst those should be safeguarding consumers,’ Chilton says. ‘That includes highlighting, and potentially banning, excessive fees that can gobble up profits.’
“The CFTC probe comes as a U.S. Senate committee today sent a letter urging the agency to work with the Securities and Exchange Commission to study ways to provide clearer disclosure of high fees charged to retirement accounts invested in managed futures funds.
“‘As Chairman and member of the Special Committee on Aging, we take very seriously our responsibility to safeguard the investment security of older Americans,’ Chairman Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, and Elizabeth Warren, Democrat from Massachusetts, wrote to CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
The news that Reuters business journalist Carrick Mollenkamp, who many consider to be a dogged and thorough reporter during his two decades in business reporting, had left journalism for a job at a hedge fund earlier this month took some people by surprise.
It should not have.
Hedge funds are advertising that they want to hire business journalists to come work for them on journalism job websites. They’re starting their own websites to provide content to other hedge funders. And they’re using the turmoil in the media industry to pick off some of the best people in business journalism to research companies, paying them much more than what they were making writing earnings stories and company trend pieces.
Why? Business reporters have the required skills to dig into a company and find out what’s going on.
Consider the case of Jim McNair, a former business journalist with the Cincinnati Enquirer and Miami Herald. He left the Enquirer in 2007 and went to work for a New York City hedge fund that he is contractually forbidden to identify. He is a researcher for them, working with a dozen analysts.
“The work is very similar to the front-end work of business journalism,” said McNair in an email to Talking Biz News. “I run companies and their top executives through the gauntlet of litigation checks, regulatory agency actions, FOIA requests, and trade press and blog coverage, then summarize findings for the financial analysts to digest. On occasion, I’ll suggest companies for possible investment positions, but I’m mainly on board to dig up publicly available information that could have a material impact on a company’s stock price.”
McNair works out of his home in Cincinnati. But he’s not alone. Talking Biz News found at least a dozen former business journalists working at hedge funds or investment companies in the past 24 hours.
Here are some examples:
- Wall Street Journal editor and researcher Jim Oberman left the business newspaper in October to work for a job in research at a new hedge fund, Aravt Global LLC.
- Steve Schurr is a former Financial Times reporter who is now an analyst with Brahman Capital. He previously worked for legendary hedge fund manager Jim Kynikos.
- David Poppe is a former Miami Herald reporter who now manages the Sequoia Fund for Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb in New York.
- Raphael Lewis, a former transportation beat reporter for the Boston Globe, joined North Run Capital hedge fund in Boston in 2007 and works there as a research analyst.
- Mara Der Hovanesian, a former Businessweek reporter, works for Vontobel Asset Management as a senior research analyst, along with former Wall Street Journal reporter Robert Berner.
Of course, if the hedge fund job doesn’t work out, they can always return to business journalism. Cory Johnson of Bloomberg Television joined its West Coast show after running a hedge fund. Of course, before he ran a hedge fund, he was a reporter for TheStreet.com and CNBC.
And Ron Insana returned to CNBC after leaving the business news network in 2008 to run a hedge fund. His foray into investing failed.
by Chris Roush
Bloomberg LP is providing terminal clients with tools to monitor and restrict employees’ access to its chat-room functions, after traders’ use of electronic messages drew scrutiny amid government market-manipulation probes.
Justin Baer of The Wall Street Journal writes, “Bloomberg said Tuesday it had created a new function that allows clients’ compliance officers to monitor employees’ use of the terminal’s chat services from a single screen.
“Starting next month, the media-and-information conglomerate said, banks and other customers will be able to limit how employees can access so-called multi-firm chat rooms, in which more than two participants can congregate and swap messages.
“What passes from one firm to another in chat rooms drew a spotlight this year as regulatory probes into alleged interest-rate rigging and currency market manipulations revealed that traders from rival banks may have used the service to share information inappropriately.”
Read more here.
by Liz Hester
Scanning the headlines on Thursday, most of the top ones seemed to involve some large financial institution settling a large tab with the government for some wrong doing. Years after the financial crisis, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators are getting tough for some of these past actions.
The New York Times reported on Bank of America’s mortgage fines:
The fallout from the bursting of the housing bubble continues to plague Wall Street.
Bank of America agreed on Thursday to pay a $131.8 million penalty to securities regulators to settle an investigation linked to the structuring and sale of two complex mortgage securities that its Merrill Lynch division sold to investors.
The settlement between Bank of America and the Securities and Exchange Commission arises from a series of collateralized debt obligations that Merrill Lynch cobbled together and marketed. The hedge fund Magnetar Capital had a role in helping to pick some of the mortgage securities included in the C.D.O.’s.
The S.E.C., in an administrative order, alleged that Merrill Lynch misled investors by failing to disclose Magnetar’s role in influencing the selection of the underlying securities in the C.D.O.’s. Merrill Lynch also failed to disclose that the hedge fund not only had invested in the deal but was also shorting, or betting against, their performance in some instance, the S.E.C. said.
The deals, called Norma C.D.O. and Octans 1 C.D.O., which were sold in 2006 and 2007, had a combined face value of $3 billion. The so-called Magnetar deals were the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning article on the investigative website ProPublica in 2010.
But it appears that the investigation by the S.E.C. is ending without any finding of fault or liability by Magnetar. In response to the S.E.C. settlement with Bank of America, the hedge fund issued a statement saying that it had received a “closing letter” from the S.E.C. with regard to the investigation of the firm.
The Guardian had this story about JPMorgan Chase and fines it will pay over the Madoff scandal:
JP Morgan Chase, the biggest bank in the US, is facing another multi-billion dollar fine, this time deriving from its involvement with notorious Ponzi scheme fraudster Bernard Madoff.
The bank has tentatively agreed to pay $2bn to settle allegations it failed to inform US authorities of the jailed fraudsters suspicious activity, according to people familiar with negotiations. A settlement deal with the Justice Department could come as early as next week. The bank declined to comment.
Madoff was arrested at his Manhattan penthouse five years ago this week after his $20bn scam came to light. JP Morgan was his bank for two decades and the US authorities suspect it continued to service his business even as it suspected something was wrong.
The fraudster himself predicted the bank would one day face a big fine. In a 2011 interview with the Financial Times he said: “JPMorgan doesn’t have a chance in hell of not coming up with a big settlement.” He claimed: “There were people at the bank who knew what was going on,” an assertion that JP Morgan has consistently claimed is false.
According to court papers filed by Irving Picard, the trustee charged with recouping losses for Madoff’s victims, the bank had grave doubts about Madoff 18 months before his scam unwound. The documents quote one banker claiming Madoff’s “Oz-like signals” were difficult to ignore.
The filings also quote a June 2007 email from a senior JP Morgan banker warning colleagues that another banker “just told me that there is a well-known cloud over the head of Madoff and that his returns are speculated to be part of a Ponzi scheme.”
The bank filed a “suspicious activity” report with UK authorities in 2008 but did not take a similar step in the US.
Then Bloomberg had this story about traders implicated in the Libor manipulation probe being likely to pay fines in January:
U.K. regulators may issue the first penalties against individuals in their probe of Libor manipulation as soon as next month, three people with knowledge of the case said.
The Financial Conduct Authority sent notices to traders in the past two months outlining their findings, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the case is private. The FCA is in discussions with some of the traders over proposed penalties, including fines of more than 100,000 pounds ($160,000), one of the people said.
The targets have one month to respond to the claims, two of the people said. The agency plans to levy civil fines early next year, though some may be delayed if the people contest the penalties or the findings, known as preliminary investigation reports.
“Individuals may be more inclined to fight these fines if they risk losing approved-person status because of the implications on their future job prospects,” said Peter Lodder, a senior trial lawyer at 2 Bedford Row in London.
More than a half dozen finance firms, including Barclays Plc (BARC) and UBS AG (UBSN), have been fined a total of about $6 billion since June 2012 for manipulating the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the benchmark interest rate for more than $360 trillion of securities worldwide. More firms will face fines next year and seven people are being prosecuted in parallel U.S. and U.K. probes.
It will be interesting to see when shareholders get tired of all the fines and start turning to other industries with less litigation risk. Or maybe, by getting through all these issues, the finance sector is gearing up for better days.
by Chris Roush
Julia LaRoche of Business Insider examines the practice at Bloomberg News of paying reporters part of their bonus based on how many market-moving stories they produce.
LaRoche writes, “This practice is not widespread in the financial news industry, and journalists we spoke to from other outlets were not aware that it is used at Bloomberg. We also canvassed traders, bankers and public relations professionals. None of them had heard this before, either.
“Most of the people we spoke to, especially traders, were startled to hear about this practice, worrying that it might create an incentive for Bloomberg reporters to ‘push’ or stretch stories with the specific aim of moving markets. Traders react instantly to headlines and news stories, and the decisions they make often make or lose significant amounts of money.
“We asked Bloomberg about the practice. A company spokesperson acknowledged it.
“‘It isn’t news unless it’s true. At Bloomberg News, the most important news is actionable. That means we strive to be first to report surprises in markets that change behaviour and we put a premium on reporting that reveals the biggest changes in relative value across all assets.’”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee spoke with Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times business desk about why most of the financial media — except for Bloomberg News — failed to cover a credit default swap deal by the Blackstone Group.
She then asked the business desk of BuzzFeed how they would cover the story.
by Chris Roush
Dow Jones seeks a reporter to cover private equity deals, fundraising and other news about the industry, writing both for specialist publications and the Wall Street Journal. We’re looking for a talented and versatile journalist who is good at landing scoops as well as writing broader analysis stories and quick blog posts and tweets.
The job entails writing both for the professional audience that pays a premium for our subscription news products but also the broader audience of the WSJ.
Please attach a resume, cover letter and three to five published clips to your online application.
To apply, go here.