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Steve Cohen’s Comeback Hits a Snag

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Since 2016, when his two-year ban on managing other people’s money went into effect, hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen has been planning his “I’ll show you!” comeback. In order to ensure that nothing overshadowed his big day, Cohen took a number of precautionary measures. For starters, he changed the name of his firm—the one that pleaded guilty to insider trading in 2013 and paid $1.8 billion in fines— from S.A.C. Capital Advisors (his initials), to Point72 Asset Management. He cleaned house, replacing virtually all of the senior executives who were at the firm prior to 2013 with fresh ones. He started Point72 Academy, a finishing school for aspiring traders who are taught that no amount of profit is worth breaking the law. He hired people who say things to the press like, “If somebody is coming here because they think it’s a way to make a lot of money early and retire in their thirties, they’re thinking about it wrong.” He gave staff input on interior design choices. He started a lending library. He stopped asking people “Do you even know how to do this f—ing job?” And he screamed at people for losing money a lot less than he used to. Unfortunately, according to a new lawsuit, there was one ‘i’ he forgot to dot: the one in which women are (allegedly!) subjected to harassment and discrimination.

In a lawsuit filed on Monday, Lauren Bonner, an associate director at Point72, alleges, among other things, that:

  • For a number of weeks last year, a whiteboard belonging to a high-level Point72 executive had the word “pussy” written on it, “leaving the firm’s few senior women feeling uneasy, according to the lawsuit.”

  • Male colleagues routinely “[made] comments on women’s physical appearances.”

  • Women were regularly “denied promotions and regularly forced out after male executives accuse them of being ‘too emotional,’ ‘too sensitive,’ or simply, ‘women.’”

  • After filing a complaint against a high-ranking male executive, said executive was still allowed to sit in on the promotion committee to decide if she would be named a director.

  • Another high-level executive called female employees “sweethearts” and “girls” and held “no girls allowed” meetings.

  • A recent hire who was “unequivocally less experienced and less qualified” than Bonner was brought on at a higher level and more than double the base salary.

  • At a fundraiser last year, a company consultant asked another guy, regarding a woman to whom he’d been introduced, “Do you want to fuck her? You can. She works for me.”

To the outside world, these allegations likely—and understandably!—come off as gross and shocking, but they didn’t exactly surprise some people who have worked on Wall Street. One person familiar with the workings of S.A.C., Cohen’s old shop, told me they were “surprised we haven’t seen more of these suits.” This person added that the previous firm’s culture was “a boy’s club, where you have young boys being paid lots of money, and creepy things are said all the time. [When I was there] guys were going to strip clubs after work and coming in the next day talking about f—ing hookers.” (A spokesperson for Point 72 declined to comment on these claims.)

According to this person, however, while the atmosphere was misogynistic, it was inclusive misogyny: women ”were included if they could hang—if they didn’t make a big deal of it.” The situation, they said, “isn’t just a [S.A.C.] thing—it’s a much broader thing across Wall Street.” Another person familiar with the firm that I spoke to said that he was “surprised [by the news], given all the window dressing and all the lip service—the changing of the name, the academy—to create the opposite impression.” (In a statement to the Hive, Point72 said: “The firm emphatically denies these allegations and will defend itself in a more appropriate venue than the media.” It added: “We stand by our record of hiring and developing women. In an industry where women are historically underrepresented, the hundreds of women at Point72 are vital members of every part of our organization.”)

Incidentally, back in the pre-financial-crisis days, S.A.C. Capital was sued by a former employee, Andrew Tong, who alleged that before he was terminated, his boss, Ping Jiang, made him take female hormone pills and wear dresses and high heels as part of a “training program” designed to build “the ideal Analyst/Trader” by combining “the skills of a man” with “certain traits of a woman.” (Lawyers for S.A.C. and Jiang called the allegations “salacious and false,” and the suit was later dropped.) Of that situation, which allegedly involved Jiang making Tong give him blow jobs for trade approval, an employee of the firm told the New York Post, “If taking female hormones actually helped you do your job, they would simply hire women here. But they don’t.”

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Louise Linton and Steve Mnuchin: A Love Story for the Ages

It’s difficult for us to pick our favorite part of this glorious interview the Treasury secretary’s wife sat for with Elle magazine, but a few include:

  • The part where Steve Mnuchin says that there are so many sides to his wife the public doesn’t get to see, such as the side that “loves gadgets” (???):

When asked about his wife’s turn in the spotlight over e-mail, just a few days after the horse poop incident, he wrote: “I think social media has made her misunderstood and she is not at all the person that has been portrayed. She has a huge heart, is sensitive, deeply compassionate, and kind. She has humility and gentleness. She’s also funny and makes people laugh. . . . She loves gadgets and has a bird feeder in the backyard. She reads John Stuart Mill and writes notes in the margins of her books. She’s an incredibly warm and loving person.”

That Instagram comment has been playing on repeat in Linton’s mind for the last six months. “I think after being kicked and slapped on social media a billion times, I had this one time. This lady said I was a deplorable human being, and that hurt,” Linton says, her voice trembling in sincere horror and self-pity. Her hands are shaking. “So I had this knee-jerk reaction and I was like . . . blarghhhh. I was feeling like a regular person. And regular people, when someone says something mean to you on social media, regular people are allowed to respond.” It’s clear that she identifies much more strongly with a battered Dalmatian puppy than Cruella de Vil. “I felt like the kid on the playground that has been so bullied, and finally you punch back.”

It’s easy to imagine that a couple, financially secure and happily working in the film industry in Los Angeles, would want to stay far away from the chaos of such a turbulent political operation. But Linton remembers it as a no-brainer. “It wasn’t a long deliberation because I think he felt incredibly honored to have the opportunity to serve the country. And I felt good because I know him so well, and I feel safe, knowing that the economy is in his hands.”

Trump administration likens proposal to replace food stamps with boxes of canned goods to gourmet delivery service

For those of you who are unaware, Blue Apron is an ingredient-and-recipe meal-kit service that provides fresh ingredients like salmon, Dukkah seasoning, and gochujang to millennial yuppies so that they can “cook” dinner without having to go to the trouble of shopping for ingredients. To our knowledge, they do not send shelf-stable milk or canned meat. But, according to White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who wants to replace food stamps with boxes of canned goods, the two programs are one and the same.

“What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part—not all, part—of their benefits come in the actual sort of, and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright, but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” Mulvaney said Monday. “It lowers the cost to us because we can buy [at wholesale prices] whereas they have to buy it at retail. It also makes sure they’re getting nutritious food. So we’re pretty excited about that.”

There are a, incidentally, number of issues with this idea, aside from the fact that it’s not like Blue Apron, at all:

Steve Bannon hearts Janet Yellen

“The Breitbart posse is in love with Janet Yellen,” the ex-adviser to the president reportedly told Bloomberg’s Joshua Green several months back. “Yellen’s my girl.” Sadly, his former boss did not agree.

Elsewhere!

Tax cuts plus increased spending while economy is growing akin to throwing ‘lighter fluid on a fire’: Lloyd Blankfein (CNBC)

Volitility index manipulated to cost investors billions: whistleblower (Reuters)

Twitter’s CEO downplays chatter about possible acquisition (Reuters)

Uber Sales Rose 61% to $2 Billion Last Quarter Under New C.E.O. (Bloomberg)

Cohen’s Point72 Seeks to Seal Employee’s Discrimination Suit (Bloomberg)

A Billion-Dollar Bribery Scandal Sweeps Through the Oil Industry (W.S.J.)

Chipotle shares rally after burrito chain taps Taco Bell CEO to be its new chief (CNBC)

Trash collector’s backflip caught on home’s security camera (UPI)

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