Flying Slug

A solitary slug, dangling in midair, suspended by a strand of slime from a leaf six feet above. Is this a thing? I’ve never seen it before. 

The interaction between criminal law and social norms

Matt Levine’s latest Money Stuff column at Bloomberg explores the fuzzy line between antitrust violations and simply minding your manners. The difference is not as obvious as you might immediately think:

What would make those calls criminal? If Dimon said “don’t hire from us and we won’t hire from you,” and McFarlane said “you have yourself a deal,” then that would be bad. “Going forward, the DOJ intends to proceed criminally against naked wage-fixing or no-poaching agreements,” the Justice Department announced last year, and it noted that informal “gentleman’s agreements” can still count as criminal conspiracies. (“There have been no improper agreements and we continue to hire from each other,” says JPMorgan, and Barclays “insiders vigorously rejected any suggestion that such an agreement was entered into” and pointed out that it keeps hiring from JPMorgan.)

But what if Dimon was like “hey all this hiring is rude and you should stop,” and McFarlane was like “I suppose it is rude, we’ll stop.” What if Dimon called McFarlane and just said “really?” and waited in silence until McFarlane was like “yeah, okay, fine.” I have no idea what anyone said to anyone else. But it does seem to me like leaving a senior job at one bank to become the CEO at another, and then poaching a ton of senior people from your old bank all at once, is kind of rude and disruptive to your old friends and colleagues, and you might not want to do it, not because of an illegal “gentleman’s agreement” but out of a general social sense of gentlemanliness. (Or you might forget your manners, and be reminded, and repent.) What if Barclays really did slow down its hiring of JPMorgan employees because it concluded that there was a social norm against all that hiring? Isn’t a “social norm” just another name for a “gentleman’s agreement”? Isn’t it a shared informal understanding about what should and shouldn’t be done? Does that make it an antitrust violation?  

Chicago Checklist

My 8 year old was worried about me packing properly for my business trip in the morning, so she made me a list.

You Are Not Google

The tools used by the big tech companies that are household names are probably not the tools you should be using for your company.

You Are Not Google is chock full of good examples that explain why.

Blogging, Bonds and Bathrooms – Matt Levine

Imagine going into an M&A pitch with a pitchbook page saying “we will tell you not to talk to the buyers in the bathroom during due diligence.” That is not a good slide! (Imagine the clip art!) And yet it’s the thing that stuck out to this former client, and that convinced him that Goldman’s skill is what got him a 40 percent premium.

Source: Blogging, Bonds and Bathrooms – Bloomberg

Whoever came up with the bathroom tip at Goldman must be very proud.

This is good, too:

There is no moral importance or objective truth involved in driving on the right or stopping on red and going on green; the value is that everyone agrees to follow the same rules. Similarly the value of GAAP is not so much that it reflects reality — though it does the best it can — but that it is generally accepted.