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OPINION

Macaskill on markets: Mystic Macaskill 2023

Euromoney’s Mystic Maca looks into what’s in store next year and sees some big Wall Street reshuffles.

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Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, announces that under his bail terms he has been allowed to take up a trainee analyst posi-tion at Goldman Sachs

January

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of bankrupt crypto firm FTX, announces that under his bail terms he has been allowed to take up a trainee analyst position at Goldman Sachs.

“I used to say that I might buy Goldman Sachs with a bag of Alameda unicorn tokens, but after losing $32 billion in a couple of days, I now believe that gaining a solid grounding in finance might be a better way of meeting my long-term effective altruism goals,” says the digital trading boy wonder better known as SBF.

“Goldman’s CEO David Solomon was a lot of fun when he was DJ at our Bahamas pool party last year and pitched me on an IPO for FTX, so I’m sure working for him in New York will be just as enjoyable. Plus, he’s an expert at dealing with legal issues, ranging from 1MDB to all those discrimination lawsuits, so hopefully he can help me in my court cases too,” SBF continues. “Just so long as he doesn’t try to make me wear pants!”

February

Credit Suisse abandons plans to brand its investment banking spin-off as CS First Boston and instead renames the whole group Credit East.

“We need to leverage the fact that our biggest shareholder is now Saudi Arabia and exploit synergies with other properties owned by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” says investment bank head Michael Klein. “That’s why I’m also taking personal control of soccerball franchise Newcastle United and appointing Cristiano Ronaldo as player-coach and teamwork ambassador for the entire Credit East group.”

Ronaldo welcomes his new role, which combines playing in any champions league games that are not held in Newcastle with mentoring Credit East’s global wealth managers, now rebranded as the Toon Army.

“I’d also like to join Michael Klein in thanking Amanda Staveley for all her work at Newcastle United and wishing her the best in future ventures,” Ronaldo adds.

March

Pressure mounts on Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman as analysts estimate the cost of the unsold $13 billion debt issued to finance Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.

Musk hands Morgan Stanley and other lenders a lifeline as the first quarter draws to a close with an offer to buy the Twitter debt himself at 50 cents in the dollar.

“I’m obviously overpaying for this debt as everyone knows that Twitter is heading towards bankruptcy and a recovery value of close to zero,” Musk says in a tweet. “But bankers’ lives matter too, and that’s why I want to help out.”

Gorman thanks Musk with a post on LinkedIn. “It’s not often in a banking career that you get the chance to work with a true visionary and a ‘Rocket man’ of innovation,” Gorman says. “I just want to say to my old friend Elon that I’ll always have your back, big guy.”

Analysts agree that a merger to create a single Swiss banking firm could well meet with regulatory approval if Saudi Arabia can offer some assurances about commissions from PIF deals to all relevant parties

April

Morgan Stanley’s first-quarter earnings call with analysts is overshadowed by a tweet from Elon Musk abandoning his planned buyback of Twitter debt.

“James Gormless must think I’m nuts if he wants me to pay 50c in the $ for that garbage,” Musk says. “Well not today, Captain Kangaroo! This is my final offer: send over Michael Grimes to be my techno-butler for six months and I’ll think about giving you 10c in the $.”

After an emergency meeting of the Morgan Stanley board, the bank agrees to Musk’s terms and issues revised first-quarter earnings to reflect the new write-down on its Twitter debt holdings.

May

Morgan Stanley’s share price rebounds sharply on the news that James Gorman is to be replaced as CEO and chairman by Colm Kelleher, who will leave his role chairing UBS.

“If it is good enough for Disney, it is good enough for Morgan Stanley, and I have to say it’s great to be back at the bank I called home for more than 30 years,” says Kelleher. “I’m confident I can deliver the ‘Bob Iger’ effect and boost morale just by being less of a downer than the guy I am replacing. Finally.”

Media reports confirm that – as with the Disney CEO swap – Gorman’s forced departure was accelerated by a rebellion of leading Morgan Stanley bankers.

“It wasn’t just that we all hated Gorman, though we did,” one division head says on background. “It was more the prospect that he would try to retire and stick us with ‘Robot boy’ Ted Pick as his successor. Say what you like about Colm, but you can rely on him to take a client out for a slap-up dinner without reading out our trading terms and conditions first.”

June

Credit East takes advantage of the leadership vacuum at UBS by launching an audacious takeover bid for its much bigger Swiss rival.

Veteran dealmaker Michael Klein explains the rationale behind the bid: “I was entertaining HRH Crown Prince MBS in the Khashoggi hospitality suite at Newcastle United one afternoon when he left me a tip of $20 billion to put towards buying the bank of my choice.

“Our so-called senior management team of Ulrich Lehmann and Axel Körner – if I have their names right – had already asked me to get in touch with Colm Kelleher to have an informal chat about optimal prices for global wealth management services, so when I found out that Colm had given up the chairman role at UBS to go back to Morgan Stanley, I thought I might as well launch a full-blown takeover bid.”

Analysts agree that a merger to create a single Swiss banking firm could well meet with regulatory approval if Saudi Arabia can offer some assurances about commissions from PIF deals to all relevant parties.

Competition intensifies between hedge fund titans Paul Singer and Ray Dalio over who can produce the most apocalyptic forecast

July

JPMorgan announces that CEO and chairman Jamie Dimon has been given a new 10-year contract on much improved terms.

“Nobody wants the bank to do a Disney for a year or two with an under-prepared CEO before it is forced to beg me to come back and sort everything out,” says Dimon. “This is a much better deal for shareholders, believe me. 10 years from now I’ll still be younger than Joe Biden when he became president and I beat Bob Iger in a charity arm-wrestling contest just last week at our media conference. With my left hand. And by the way, if Mike Mayo wants to step up for the same, he’s welcome, any time.”

JPMorgan separately overhauls its executive diversity policy after top divisional managers Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak leave to take up leadership positions at rival banks.

August

Competition intensifies between hedge fund titans Paul Singer and Ray Dalio over who can produce the most apocalyptic forecast.

Elliott Management founder Singer takes an early lead by anticipating 500% inflation and a half century of recession in an update to his seminal work 'A vulture capitalist’s guide to investing'.

Bridgewater’s Dalio is quick to respond with a new version of his own book 'The changing world order', which was bought by hundreds of his employees and Wall Street coverage bankers.

“The four horsemen of famine, war, death and a prolonged period of risk parity underperformance are upon us,” Dalio says in a special sponsored half hour show on CNBC. “Americans and Europeans need to work harder and adopt the ethics of China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping if they are to enjoy the fruits of shared future prosperity.”

September

The sharpest synchronized rally in equity and debt markets in decades gets underway after US Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell signals that the regulator’s era of rate hikes to combat inflation has ended.

Powell’s counterpart at the Bank of England, governor Andrew Bailey, takes the chance to reminisce about the anniversary of the crisis in the gilt market seen a year earlier.

“We have commissioned a study to demonstrate that nothing matters anyway,” muses Bailey, who credits a four-day week and transcendental meditation with his recent zen-like approach to market crises.

“Just one year ago I was foaming at the mouth and telling UK pension funds they had 10 minutes to get their LDI collateral over to American banks in Canary Wharf before I threw myself under a bus in Threadneedle Street,” Bailey recalls. “But the traffic around Bank never moves anyway, and everything sorted itself out without me doing anything. Just goes to show, really.”

Goldman Sachs insiders confirm that Sam Bankman-Fried has been dismissed from his position as a trainee analyst

October

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son announces that he is making fresh investments after a self-imposed period of regret and reflection.

“I have pondered the failure of the AI singularity to arrive in time to bail out my investments via the Vision Funds, my hedge fund Northstar or indeed my online account with bet365.com – which, by the way, has tighter spreads than any of the Wall Street banks,” says Son.

“But then I recalled that sometimes the crow flies backwards and I am perhaps one of the most effective altruists in the modern markets, given the way I have transferred so much Alibaba wealth to so many unsuspecting and indeed undeserving trading counterparties. This has given me great comfort and I am now ready to renew my investing journey.”

November

Masayoshi Son rehires former Vision Fund head Rajeev Misra to run a new SoftBank crypto recovery investment vehicle, complete with $20 billion of fresh Saudi money and a 10-year lock-up feature for other investors.

“One of the main lessons from the long crypto winter has been that many young digital dealers didn’t understand the first thing about using complex financial structuring to ensure that you have no personal downside but only upside from your trades,” says Son. “Indeed, Rajeev also taught me this lesson and I have been investing for half a century! I am confident that he can now give the crypto derivatives markets a vital veneer of liquidity, with the help of the new global risk-on rally. I also pledge to outside investors that we will try to cash out our bets much earlier this time.”

December

Goldman Sachs insiders confirm that Sam Bankman-Fried has been dismissed from his position as a trainee analyst, briefing journalists that SBF had failed to adhere to the bank’s rigorous new code of ethics.

SBF responds with characteristic frankness, in a series of tweets that eventually spells out ‘Goldman Blows’ when reading the first letter of each message.

“My real mistake was joking that David Solomon should be called BJ D-Sol, not DJ D-Sol,” SBF says in one of the tweets. “He used to laugh along to all my jokes when I was running FTX, but I guess it’s different now that I’m just a grunt trying to get both sides of a spreadsheet to add up. Well, you live and learn. Once again, my apologies to anyone I may have offended, and I look forward to advisory work with the SoftBank crypto derivatives fund if my court cases next year pan out. And I remain highly confident they will. This isn’t over, people!”