While You Were Working - August 3

Banks are still blowing off marijuana

Despite being legalized in a growing number of states, US banks are still refusing to bogart the business of marijuana growers and dealers. The banks say they are hesitant because federal authorities haven’t really articulated a clear or consistent policy about legalization. Banking regulators haven’t been particularly helpful in clarifying policy either.

But it still seems weird that banks are so vocal about their refusal to service Big Pot. With all the illegal activity banks have been caught servicing, it is a wee bit funny they are drawing such a firm line with regard to something that is legal.

Where is HSBC when Big Pot really needs it?

Julius Baer plays chess while other bankers play checkers

Swiss private bank Julius Baer sees opportunity where other banks see uncertainty. More specifically, the Swiss see opportunity in Britain. While the rest of the financial services industry is devising post-Brexit plans to flee Britain, Julius Baer is ramping up its staff in an effort to snare business from all the wealth left behind.

One interesting nugget: According to Julius Baer, two-thirds of the wealth in Britain resides outside the London area. That is surprising.

Maybe the bankers at Julius Baer will head to California next to help all those rich pot dealers?

Goldman Sachs woos the Saudis

Goldman Sachs is buying into the $10 billion credit facility Saudi Aramco established with a consortium of banks two years ago. There were 27 banks involved in the original creation of the credit facility, so it remains a surprise that Goldman Sachs wasn’t on the original list. Today’s move seems like a way for Goldman to avoid repeating that mistake and wedge its foot in the door for some of the underwriting for the much-anticipated IPO of 5% of Saudi Aramco.

I still maintain there is about a 25% chance that IPO never happens.

Neymar made his move

It’s (finally) official. Brazilian soccer star Neymar is leaving powerhouse Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain. I am a die-hard Barcelona fan, but even I have to admit the move is probably a good one for Neymar. And if Barca can use some of the funds to secure the services of want-away AS Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe, then I think the Catalans will end up better off – perhaps in the near-term and especially in the long term.

The magic of Lionel Messi is always a sight to behold. But Messi is going to slow down in the coming years and it is not outlandish to see him eventually slotting into the Xavi role for Barca. No one ever talks about this scenario, and it is probably 3-4 years away, but who knows the system and the importance of that role better than Messi? Plus, it’s not like the Barca brain trust have been able to find an ample replacement for Xavi since he retired. When Messi’s speed finally leaves him, he will still have the skills to steer Barca to glory by slotting dagger through balls to an Mbappe - who will be still be in his early 20s.

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