Monthly Archives: November 2011

Top 10 Financial Failures of 2011

It’s the financial service web site FierceFinance.com who have put together the list of the biggest blunders in the industry during the past year. Personally, I might have put a few other issues on the list, but when it comes to the final top position I think we have a winner:

“Led by CEO Jon Corzine, formerly of Goldman Sachs, MF Global was a trading powerhouse back in 2010. That all came crashing down in late 2011, as the bank filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and lost track of $600 million in capital.”

FierceFinance

Yeah, losing $600 million is probably harder than earning them, and quite an achievement…

FireceFinance writes:

“The MF Global failure was a total unraveling involving poor management and risky investment. For what it’s worth, Corzine said he will not be seeking to collect his $12 million Golden Parachute severance package. But reports surfaced in The Telegraph speculating that MF Global employees in the U.K. may have received Q3 corporate bonuses, even with the firm on the brink of failure.”

Read more: MF Global coverage.

Here’e the rest of the list:

2. Bank of America imposes debit card fee.

“The backlash against the bank was severe. But CEO Brian Moynihan defended the bank’s right to make a profit, saying in a statement that he had “an inherent duty as a CEO of a publicly owned company to get a return for my shareholders.”

3.  Frustration sparks Occupy Wall Street protests.

“What originated as peaceful has become violent, as reports surfaced of police using tear gas on protestors along with attempts to force them out of encampments.”

4. S&P downgrades US credit rating.

“Even though S&P went on to be criticized for its debt rating practices (the issue of credit rating agency credibility looms large), the move was significant at a time when budget showdowns in Washington and a stagnant economy were constantly in the headlines.”

5. Raj Rajaratnam slammed for insider trading.

“The convicted insider trader dominated the news in 2011 and in many ways is seen as the pinnacle of success for federal prosecutors, who have been cracking down on offenders.”

6. Citi stumbles after major data breach.

“Citi was reluctant to publicly announce the breach, finally doing so only after being pressed on the subject by the media. Citi offered a public explanation of the incident and tried reassuring customers that the stolen data was insufficient to commit fraud and that social security numbers, dates of birth and card security codes remained secure.”

7. Bank of America forecloses on couple.

“One of the more bizarre stories of 2011 was when Bank of America accidentally foreclosed on a Florida couple. Although the bank eventually backed down, the couple hired a lawyer to recoup attorney’s fees. Five months passed without payment–this coming after a judge ordered the bank to pay up. So the couple and its attorney showed up to foreclose on a local Bank of America branch, declaring their intent to remove furniture, cash and other property.”

8. RSA suffers cyber attack.

“RSA’s SecureID tokens are used by 30,000 organizations worldwide. RSA remained open about the attack, offering tips and posting details describing the anatomy of the breach. But even transparency didn’t reverse the fact that banks were forced to rethink security and look for new options.”

9. Typo costs Goldman Sachs $45 million.

“A tip for everyone who deals with contracts: Double check all calculations. Goldman Sachs learned that lesson the hard way back in June when it issued four warrants relating to Japan’s Nikkei index. Buried in the depths of financial jargon was a serious formulaic mistake: A multiplication sign was inserted where there should have been a divide by sign.”

10. John Paulson‘s Sino-Forest bust.

“In all likelihood, 2011 will not be a great year for hedge fund manager John Paulson. Among his failures was selling 35 million shares of the Chinese company Sino-Forest at an estimated loss of $500 million.”

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French Senate Start Taxing High-Frequency Trading In January

According to a report by Ulrika Lomas of Tax-News.com, the French Senate, with its left-wing majority, has approved plans to establish a tax on automated transactions in France, to curb the rapid rise in high frequency trading.

“This form of trading merely serves to derail the markets and lamented the lack of visibility for both investors and issuers and the lack of contribution to the country’s real economy.”

Nicole Bricq

Proposed by general budget rapporteur Nicole Bricq, the tax had been adopted by the Senate finance committee recently, highfrequencytrading911.com writes.

The new initiative proposes to impose from January 1, 2012, a tax on certain investment service providers in cases where daily cancellation rates for orders for buying and selling financial instruments on public markets exceed 50%.

Bricq warns that this form of trading “merely serves to derail the markets and lamented the lack of visibility for both investors and issuers and the lack of contribution to the country’s real economy.”

Commenting on its decision to back the plans at the time, the Senate finance committee pointed to the “flash crash” stock market crash of May 6, 2010 in the US and to the stock market crash in Europe in August of this year, which, it argued, served to fuel the controversy surrounding both the impact and the usefulness of high frequency trading.

And the controversy continues….

 

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Deutsche Bank To Review Its Global Asset Management

Deutsche Bank announced on Tuesday that it is conducting a strategic review of its global Asset Management division. All strategic options are being considered, the bank says in a press release.

“The outcome of this review will be driven first and foremost by our fiduciary duty to, and the interests of, our clients.”

Kevin Parker

 

This is one of those interesting press releases where the most interesting stuff is what the releasing company is NOT saying.

When any company is reviewing the strategy of a whole division it is almost certain that there will be some changes.

Deutsche Bank do not say anything in today’s press release about what part of the asset management it will cut lose.

But the largest bank of Europe emphasize what it will keep:

“While the Bank remains committed to asset management, this review is part of the Bank’s continual effort to maintain an optimal business mix and be among the market leaders in each of its businesses.,” DB writes.

“All strategic options are being considered. The review covers all of the Asset Management division globally except for the DWS franchise in GermanyEurope and Asia, which the Bank has already determined is a core part of its retail offering in those markets.”

According to the bank is the strategic review of the asset management division focusing in particular on how recent regulatory changes and associated costs and changes in the competitive landscape are impacting the business and its growth prospects on a bank platform.

Kevin Parker, Global Head of Asset Management and a member of the Deutsche Bank Group Executive Committee, says in commentary:

“The outcome of this review will be driven first and foremost by our fiduciary duty to, and the interests of, our clients. Our aim is to find the best strategic option to maximize the performance and potential of the Asset Management division.”

Fiduciary duty? I had to look it up:

“A fiduciary duty is a legal or ethical relationship of confidence or trust between two or more parties. One party, for example a corporate trust company or the trust department of a bank, acts in a fiduciary capacity to one, who for example has funds entrusted to it for investment. In a fiduciary relationship, one person, in a position of vulnerability, justifiably vests confidence, good faith, reliance and trust in another whose aid, advice or protection is sought in some matter. In such a relation good conscience requires the fiduciary to act at all times for the sole benefit and interest of the one who trusts,” according to Wikipedia.

“A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty (the “principal“): he must not put his personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from his position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents.”

Now, who is “the principal” (or “principals”) of Deutsche Bank? I wonder…

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