11 Predictions for Wall Street in 2011

by Derek Loosvelt | December 15, 2010

1. Wall Street will name its first female CEO.
That's right, boys, some of you will have to answer to the lady and her manicured-nailed hand beginning next year. Although I'm not at liberty to divulge which firm will be naming a Mrs. (or Miss) to lead her underlings of traders and bankers off into the sun$et, I will say that it will indeed be one of the big bulging investment banks -- which, due to a nasty train wreck of a scandal that none of us will be able to glance away from, will be forced to throw its man-in-charge under the fat recycled rubber tires of a hybrid city bus. A week later, the bank in question will, to much fanfare, make history with the announcement of a female successor.

2. Facebook will lose users by the millions. And then, finally, go public.
This will have nothing to do with the very fine film The Social Network (which will take home no less than three Oscar statues in 2011) but rather with Facebook users' sudden and seemingly unexplainable desire, beginning on the afternoon of April 3rd, to talk to each other with their real voices, go for walks barefoot in various refurbished public parks across the planet, and commit to spending several minutes of solitary time on a daily basis contemplating their own mortalities. As a result, in early May, as the spring thaw begins in the Northern hemisphere, bushels of Facebook users will come to the same conclusion: that they've been logging into their Facebook accounts up to thirty-five times a day all these years for one reason and one reason only: a fear of their own demise. That's right, the denial of death will rear its evil horns in 2011 (perhaps having something to do with the predicted end of the world in 2012) and, as a result, Facebook will lose a significant amount of its value, dropping from $35 billion in net worth to a measly $23.2 billion by the end of September 2011 -- at which point the American people will have grown utterly exhausted of the tenth-anniversary-of-9/11 tributes and, unrelated, the equity markets will have grown quite moist, thus paving the way for Morgan Stanley, along with the rejuvenated Citigroup and still-strong J.P. Morgan, to co-lead the largest initial public offering in the history of planet earth, pushing Zuckerberg within striking distance of Gates and Buffett.

3. Two major investment banks will merge.
The M&A market will be China-white hot in 2011, and no industry will be more fiery than financial services. In the first quarter, several hedge funds will marry; in the second, a handful of asset management concerns will combine; and in the third, two significant securities firms with global reaches will stand arm in arm on the cover of The Wall Street Journal (as well as on numerous lesser known business publications). Three days later, the internal bloodletting will begin: the merger will result in approximately 26,666 layoffs due to product overlap.

4. The vampire squid will die.
Matt Taibbi, Lloyd Blankfein's least favorite journalist, will coin a different phrase to describe a different bank that will be allegedly wrapped up in a different scandal involving a different security that no one understands, not even the SEC. As a result, the vampire squid will drop to the bottom of the business pages, and then to the bottom of the sea, where it will rest, peacefully, until its carcass is swallowed by a hungry manatee.

5. Steve Schwarzman will move the whole shebang to Hong Kong.
As has been rumored, the Blackstone CEO will, indeed, pack up the stretch horse and carriage and begin to operate out of Gay Pa-ree so he can be that much closer to his sexy mistress with the killer legs. That is, closer to Mademoiselle Deal Markets of the East. Steve won't stay in France for long, though. Midway through the year, S.S. will cease the charade and move the whole ship East, naming Hong Kong as Blackstone's new world headquarters, bringing along his favorite Blackstone dealmakers of the West to help him take care of his beloved, who, it will become quite obvious at the end of the second quarter, is simply too much for one man to handle, even one who's as big of a swinger as Schwarzman himself.

6. Accounting will be sexy again.
What do you mean again? Ah, how quickly you forget. Back in the early aughts, accounting was all the rage. Or, at least, everyone was enraged over numerous suspect to darn right illegal and devilish accounting practices. Remember those who barbecued the books of Enron, HealthSouth and WorldCom? Oh, right, those evildoers. Well, yeah, since then, accountants have taken a backseat to bankers and traders, who singlehandedly nearly put an end to the economy. In 2011, accountants, fed up with having to sit on the hump, will take the wheel again, and just after April 15th, everyone's favorite day (the same day that, not coincidentally, David Foster Wallace's posthumous novel, The Pale King, about an IRS tax-return-processing center in Illinois in the mid-1980s, will be released), a large accounting scandal will be unveiled. It will, of course, involve a Fortune 500 firm, a large U.S. bank, and one of the firms belonging to the Big Four. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, at the close of the year, a significant increase in applications to Big Four firms will be reported.

7. Greed will officially no longer be good on Wall Street and will, instead, just be pretty okay to not so great.
Most, but certainly not all, of the big investment banks based in the U.S. of A. will finally grow up and start to act not solely out of ravenous greed for greenbacks, but instead will begin to consider the feelings of others. (Hard to believe, yes, but it will be true.) As a result, bonuses will plummet, public opinion of banks will rise, and instead of mass layoffs, there will be mass defections at four middle-market banks (due to plummeting bonuses).

8. Stan O'Neal, Kenny Lewis and James Cayne will all come out of forced retirement to launch their own businesses.
Inspired by the comeback of ex-New York State Governor and proven prostitute junky Eliot Spitzer, the ex-Merrill Lynch CEO, the ex-Bank of America CEO, and the ex-Bear Stearns CEO will all forge formidable comebacks themselves in 2011. O'Neal will start a hedge fund, Lewis will start a hedge fund, and Cayne will start a hand-blown glassware retail outlet in New York City's East Village.

9. Fab Fab will fall.
Everybody's favorite self-referencing fall guy, Fabrice "Fab Fab" Tourre, will be on the losing end of his lawsuit with the SEC, thus nailing the coffin on Fab Fab's career in banking (which we all pretty much knew was over in 2010 anyway).

10. WikiLeaks has nothing on BofA, but unloads a dump truck worth of classified documents connected to another finance firm.
Julian Assange & Co., it will turn out, doesn't have much on Bank of America. But it does have a load of dirt on a bank with just as enormous of a balance sheet. It will not be one of the U.S.-headquartered banks but one based in Europe. The information revealed will be incredibly shocking and cover the front page of every newspaper and website on the planet. But two weeks after the documents' release, Kanye West will release his sixth studio album, sales and rave reviews of which will eclipse his 2010 release My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and the news of the leaks will largely be forgotten.

11. Jamie Dimon will do something unsavory. Then do for corduroy what James Dean did for leather.
The golden child of banking, a.k.a. the JPMorgan Chase CEO who can do no wrong, is due for some bad press. He's been batting over .400 far too long. A slump is inevitable. And 2011 will be his off year: In the first quarter, a skeleton will be discovered on a hidden shelf in Dimon's closet. In the second, his firm will be the subject of a long and painful federal suit. And in the third, one of Dimon's closest confidants will turn out to be about as honest a businessman (or businesswoman) as convicted felon Bernard Madoff. However, in the fourth quarter, Dimon will stage a comeback. On 11/11/11, National Corduroy Appreciation Day (which falls on a Friday next year), Dimon, on his wife's suggestion, will don a chocolate brown two-button peak-collar wide-wale corduroy suit. During the late afternoon, Dimon's beautiful ensemble will be caught on film by the Sartorialist and will, subsequently, cause such a stir on Wall Street, as well as on Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and, especially, Eighth Avenue, that a suit crafted from the cloth of kings will become the unanimous must-have item for the ensuing spring and fall seasons. As a result, Dimon's nearly eleven-month slump, thanks to his wife's fine fashion sense, will come to an abrupt end.

Filed Under: Finance


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