Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Unmasked: Andrew Ross Sorkin has discovered the secret identity of the person behind @GSElevatorGossip, a popular Twitter handle that purportedly discloses comments overheard in Goldman Sachs' elevators and, surprise, surprise, the guy never worked at Goldman. Per Dealbook, the Twitter user is John Lefevre, a 34-year-old former bond trader now based out of Texas who did work at Citi for seven years. He also apparently was offered a job at Goldman at some point, only to have it rescinded. It's now up for debate whether Lefevre deceived people or, even, if the majority of followers believed the tweets were, in fact, coming from someone inside Goldman. ("I cannot believe the author was not an actual elevator," tweeted Times reporter Binyamin Appelbaum.) Lefevre did sign a book deal with Simon & Schuster earlier this year based off of his Twitter account, but the book's editor tells Dealbook it was not misled about his identity. Still, Sorkin writes: "The ability of people like Mr. Lefevre to create anonymous Twitter accounts underscores concerns about the veracity of what is published and the identity of authors. It also raises questions about whether publishers are blurring the line between real life and the made-up kind." Goldman, for its part, seems to be taking the whole thing in stride, repeating this official statement to the FT: "We are pleased to report that the official ban on talking in elevators will be lifted effective immediately." Of course, this isn't the first-time the big bank could breathe easy over a tell-all. Back in 2013, actual former employee Greg Smith's "Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story," billed as juicy insider look into life at the big investment bank, turned out to be more about Greg Smith and less about Goldman.
HSBC Bonus Spin: Some more info on HSBC's plans to get around the European Union's cap on bonuses has emerged following Monday's release of its earnings report. Per Dealbook, the bank plans to "award 665 of its senior managers including its chief executive, Stuart T. Gulliver, and Iain Mackay, its chief financial officer a fixed-pay allowance as part of their compensation." According to the FT, Gulliver didn't sound too thrilled about having to change the bank's compensation plan. And the move is bound to reignite debate over whether the EU's cap is a good idea. "Supporters say big bonuses incentivise bankers to take excessive risks and were one of the factors contributing to the last crisis," the paper notes. "Critics say the cap will only force banks to increase their fixed pay as HSBC has done and so reduce their flexibility to cut costs quickly in the event of another crisis."
Wall Street Journal
Western Union is being investigated by the government over alleged "fraud-induced money transfers."
U.K. regulators are "poised to make it easier for foreign banks to set up shop" in their country. U.S. regulators, you may have heard, are currently in the middle of doing the opposite.
Banks are getting back into student lending, thanks, in part, to lower default rates among borrowers. Also, "banks, searching for new revenue, are viewing students with high-income potential as lifelong customers to whom they can later sell products, such as mortgages and wealth-management services," the paper notes.
The paper profiles Royal Bank of Scotland's "Working With You" program, which stipulates corporate bankers spend at least two days a year working for a small business customer free of charge. The paper calls the program "an example of the extensive pains RBS is taking to try to appease its masters and customers after six years of withering criticism for everything from excessive pay for executives and top bankers to a lack of small-business lending." It also suggests the program brings its own hazards: the story opens and closes with the tale of a banker nearly getting crushed by a crate of feta cheese.
JPMorgan Chase is planning to cut more mortgage business jobs.
Tom Braithwaite on the Federal Reserve's post-crisis stress tests: "Four years in, this newly rigorous way of testing banks looks to be well established, and extending to ever more institutions in the U.S. and overseas.
New York Times
U.S. and U.K. regulators are splitting the workload on Libor-rigging. "The cooperation should enable prosecutors on both sides of the Atlantic whose political mandates and personalities have at times clashed, stalling the investigation to file several new criminal cases stemming from the more than five-year-old inquiry," notes Dealbook.
Big Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox appears to be on "the verge of collapse." The exchange's woes, which include the apparent theft of 744,000 bitcoins, could pose problems for prospective exchanges and the cryptocurrency itself.
Columnist Rob Cox on what Bitcoin and Facebook stock have in common: "They can both be used for certain, specific purposes. Neither is backed by a government. Both depend on vast networks of individuals. And their worth reflects demand, which is based on murky fundamentals. The trick: monetize them while they still have value."