Farrell: Fabulous Fabrice and Mouseketeer Ears
I'm in the Orlando airport with a bit of a flight delay. Being a sport, I bought some Mickey Mouse ears and joined the party. There are more kids than I have seen in some time. It's fun to watch the kids and the stressed-out parents trying to cope with getting on a plane after exhausting themselves with four days in Disney World (or Disneyland, I can never remember which one is Florida).
We somehow took our four to both when they were little. We may have done Florida twice, but I can't remember for sure. And I couldn't tell you why we flew to California with four young kids except maybe I had miles that were going to expire.
Actually, I remember the trips so fondly I would go tomorrow. I have already told Lola Jane (now three and a half) Grandma and Grandpa are taking her when she is just a bit older. I have forgiven her for telling her mother that Grandpa took her to McDonald's. I had explained very carefully that McDonald's was Grandpa's secret lunch place, but she turned me in.
I feel for the fabulous Fabrice Tourre. A rising star at the most prestigious Wall Street firm, with a multi-million dollar bonus before he was 30, is being readied for a trip under the bus. He has been placed on leave, and you need a fall guy. He may not be enough to satisfy the hungry wolves circling Goldman , but he will be the start.
A report went around the Street Wednesday afternoon that he is going to appear before a Senate committee next week. Well, Fab, grow up quickly and recognize that you have no friends and be prepared to try to run over someone in return.
A large German bank announced they would no longer do business with Goldman, and Angela Merkel is considering it as well for the nation's business. At least one of the candidates running in the UK has called for a Goldman ban. Guys—an allegation has been made. Isn't there a rule of law?
But this stuff demonstrates the risk the firm is facing. Everyone loves to go after the big guy after someone else takes the first bite. Having blown the Madoff case and allowing Alan Stanford to rip off people for years, the SEC is desperate for a victory. They are betting big on this case.
Other news being yakked about the Street while I was enjoying the magnificent Florida conference rooms with wonderful views of the sunshine centered mostly on earnings and Greece. Apple (not rated) had a blowout quarter (nothing new there), and enough companies continued to surprise that the over-extended market is getting support. Greece is becoming a bigger disaster than even I had figured.
They may well need more than the $60 billion being talked about and true or not I don't know, but France is thought to be wiggling on its full commitment. Germany appears to need an act of Parliament to extend aid and how likely is it for this to come together in timely fashion? The market is speaking and the ten-year Greek bonds traded well over 8% when just a few weeks ago it was at 6%. The spread to German bonds is at a record, approaching 500 basis points. This does not look like a situation that is on the verge of a rescue.
Traveling around, I have gained some valuable insight into views on consumer spending. Consumer spending and same store sales comparisons have been surprisingly strong but there is a growing sense it is being fueled by consumers who have defaulted on their mortgages, but who have yet to be evicted.
They are spending what was their mortgage payment on lifestyle. To put it into formal financialese: such spending would be nonrecurring. Sooner or later they will be evicted and have to at least rent. I expect moderate consumer spending in the second half of the year. But I see Mickey and Donald. I'm going to get my picture taken with them.