A down and dirty run-through of what we're reading this morning.
Don't get too excited about the news that JPMorgan Chase faces a criminal probe into mortgage shenanigans. We'd give good odds that the probe is related to actions undertaken by Bear Stearns. In particular, we've long thought that the alleged scam run by Bear traders detailed here sounded quite criminal.
In the latest "cooperating" news, Goldman Sachs said in a regulatory filing today that it is cooperating with the Justice Department's probe into anti-competitive practices in the derivatives market. As we explained when Citigroup and Morgan Stanley disclosed their cooperation in the probe, it is a strange word to use in this context. It makes it sound like Justice and Goldman are best buds, working on a project together. In reality, it means that Goldman is a subject of the investigation.
A bunch of middle-market sales guys and gals have defected from Citigroup to Sterne Agee & Leach, an Alabama-based brokerage. The proximate cause: Citi was moving the sales team from an eat-what-you-kill commission compensation structure to a salary plus discretionary bonus structure. The bigger picture here seems to be that Citi is willing to focus more on big customers, which creates opportunities for smaller operations like Sterne Agee.
Canada's China problem is bigger than its housing problem, Vitaly Katsenelson argues over at Institutional Investor. Note: It's never a good sign when the world is debating which of your economic problems are the most dire. In all likelihood, the housing and China problem are not unrelated. The slowing demand for Canadian commodities would hurt incomes there, which would hurt sales, which would further diminish incomes. All this income shrinking could make many mortgages unaffordable, sparking defaults.
Did you know that one of the possible rivals of Elliot Spitzer for the role of New York City Comptroller was a former madame? Kristin Davis, who was actually running before Spitzer announced his candidacy, just got arrested for illegally selling prescription pills. But since she's running as a libertarian and presumably believes regular folks should be able to sell such pills, this might not lose her many votes (not that she had too many to begin with).
Bill Gross declares his strategy to win the "bond war."