Anthrax Scares at Amex, BofA

cityfile · 12/10/09 02:57PM

American Express evacuated employees on three floors of its World Financial Center headquarters this afternoon after envelopes containing a "white powdery substance" were discovered. Several similarly suspicious packages were also sent to Bank of America's offices in Tampa. [NBC, Business Insider]

Limitless Credit: Just What Consumers Need

cityfile · 08/20/09 07:11AM

Big banks have lost hundreds of billions of dollars as the economic downturn has left millions of Americans unable to pay their credit card bills. So that would make this the perfect time to introduce a new card with no spending limits, right? No? Oh, well. It seems Chase is now planning to give American Express a run for its money with its new, "limitless" "Sapphire" card. The good news, clearly: Jamie Dimon's debt-collecting good squad should have no problem keeping busy for the foreseeable future. [NYP, Bloomberg]

A Historic First: Bankers Happy To Surrender Cash

cityfile · 06/09/09 09:18AM

The Treasury Department has given to go-ahead to ten big banks to begin repaying the billions provided to them by U.S. taxpayers. And for what may be the first time in history, they're expressing delight at the prospect of writing checks instead of collecting them. The Treasury Department didn't release a list this morning of the ten financial institutions that made the cut. But the joyous public statements by their CEOs has helped assemble a list, which is believed to include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of New York Mellon, the State Street Corporation, American Express, the BB&T Corporation, Capital One, and US Bancorp. [Dealbook]

Wall Street: Tuesday Morning

cityfile · 05/19/09 05:49AM

• Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley have applied to refund a total of $45 billion of bailout money. The government now has to decide whether to take the cash and run the risk of upsetting less fortunate banks who can't afford to repay their bailout money. [BN, DB]
• Money management giant Blackrock has its hand in just about everything these days, which is why lots of people are asking questions. [NYT, WSJ]
• Eight months after Lehman Brothers went down and lawyers are raising questions about the "rushed sale" of its capital markets unit to Barclays. [DB]
• American Express says it plans to eliminate 4,000 jobs. [NYT]
• Builders broke ground on the fewest homes on record in April. Housing starts dropped 12.8%, although Wall Street had been predicting an increase. [BN]
• Tim Geithner says he doesn't want to institute pay caps. He just wants to curb aggressive risk-taking. Of course, if you can't take risk, you can't make a lot of money, so we're right back where we started, aren't we? [NYT]

Wall Street: Friday Morning

cityfile · 05/08/09 05:48AM

• Employers only cut 539,000 in April, which was slightly better than Wall Street expectations and an improvement over the month of March. But the unemployment rate rose to 8.9 percent, which is a 25-year high. [WSJ, NYT]
• Stephen Friedman has resigned as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York after questions about possible conflicts of interest given his role as a director (and shareholder) of Goldman Sachs. [WSJ]
• It looks like GMAC is going to need another bailout. [NYT, NYP]

The Imaginary Vacation From Hell

cityfile · 05/01/09 02:46PM

Alexander Maryasin has a rather active imagination. The Queens man says he used his American Express Black Card to book a vacation to Sardinia with his son, but was taken hostage for two weeks at the hotel Amex recommended, so he's now suing American Express and the hotel for the horrific treatment they were forced to endure. Maryasin says he used the exclusive card to book a trip to Hotel Cala di Volpe, one of Italy's most expensive resorts. But when he and his son arrived to check in, their passports were confiscated and they were forced by hotel staffers—at gunpoint—to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars shopping at boutiques around town, charges that were conveniently placed on his Amex card. Even more disturbing? To add insult to injury, Maryasin says the hotel staff pushed him into the pool, too.

Wall Street: Friday Morning

cityfile · 04/24/09 05:38AM

• After a two-month wait, the nation's 19 largest banks will start to hear today how they did on those stress tests conducted by Washington regulators. [NYT]
• If the test indicates Citigroup will need more money to stay afloat, Vikram Pandit can probably kiss his job as the bank's CEO goodbye. [NYP]
Andrew Cuomo is urging federal regulators to investigate allegations that Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke applied pressure to Bank of America chief Ken Lewis to go ahead with the acquisition of Merrill Lynch. [WSJ, NYT, CNN]
• Chrysler is preparing to file for Chapter 11 as soon as next week. [WSJ]

The Stewart-Cramer Circus Continues

cityfile · 03/10/09 11:15AM

Jon Stewart made fun of Jim Cramer and Cramer responded in kind. Then Stewart took another shot at the Mad Money host. And Cramer responded once again on the Today show this morning. Your turn, Jonny. [HP, MM, BI]
• Okay, so CNBC didn't see the economic collapse coming. But if we're handing out blame, we better not forget about the nation's newspapers! [NPR]
• Ratings for Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice have tumbled. [AdAge]
• More cuts at New York are rumored to be in the works. [Gawker]
• American Express has shuttered Travel + Leisure Golf. [WWD]
• Apple is launching an American Idol iPhone application. Finally! [THR]
• Equally exciting: Universal movies are coming to your Playstation. [THR]

AmEx Now Paying People to Get Lost

cityfile · 02/23/09 02:27PM

If you have lousy credit and you're in possession of an American Express credit card, the company might just pay you to go away. AmEx is now offering a $300 prepaid gift card to people to cancel their accounts and pay down their debt. Don't be offended if you get the offer in the mail. According to the company, it's just a "promotion" being offered to "select cardmembers," and it's only intended to help people "simplify" their finances. [Bloomberg]

Fashion Week Recap

cityfile · 02/20/09 08:20AM

Fashion Week is finally coming to a close. Click through for a final recap of the shows, parties, and gossip from the past day or two.

Chrysler Finds a Partner, Feinberg Scales Back

cityfile · 01/20/09 07:47AM

• Fiat will take a 35 percent stake in struggling Chrysler. [WSJ]
Steve Feinberg's Cerberus Capital Management will cut 10 percent of its staff around the world. [WSJ]
• American Express's Ken Chenault plans to sell the company's stake in Chinese bank Industrial & Commercial Bank of China. [NYP]
• Bank of America may need as much as $80 billion to stay afloat. [BN]
• The hunt is still on for Arthur Nadel, the hedge fund manager from Florida who may have made off with as much as $350 million. [DB, NYP]
• Notwithstanding the bailout, top execs on Wall Street have been some of the biggest donors to the Presidential Inauguration Committee. [NYT]

Unemployment Up, Madoff's Victim List Grows

cityfile · 12/24/08 06:23AM

• The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped by 30,000 to a 26-year peak last week. [Reuters]
• AmEx and CIT will get $5.72 billion in bailout money. [Reuters]
• Doubts about Bernie Madoff now appear to date back several decades. [WSJ]
• Liliane Bettencourt, the world's wealthiest woman, is believed to have invested in Bernie Madoff via Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet, the money manager who committed suicide at his office yesterday. [Bloomberg, NYT]
Steve Feinberg's Cerberus, which has suffered several losing months, is now limiting investor redemptions. [Bloomberg]
• Execs at Old Lane, the hedge fund operated by Vikram Pandit before it was acquired by Citigroup, may be leaving the bank to start a new company. [WSJ]
• Hedge funder Larry Robbins is cutting compensation and staff. [NYP]

Cavuto's AmEx Boycott

cityfile · 11/13/08 08:00AM

If American Express pleads poverty and gets a multi-billion dollar handout from the government, maybe we should all do the same and just not pay our next AmEx bill? That's Neil Cavuto's suggestion at least, and while we wouldn't necessarily recommend it, if you do decide to toss your statements into the trash and burly collection agents show up on your doorstep, just tell them it was Neil's idea. He can afford to pay both his bill and yours, too.

Yahoo Canada cancels employee Amex cards

Paul Boutin · 11/12/08 11:44AM

Beyoncé gets to keep her Amex card. Yahoo Canada employees have been ordered to turn theirs in. And for transpo, they won't get taxi chits anymore. See you on the bus! Here's the full internal email:

AmEx Seeks Cash, GM's Prospects Darken

cityfile · 11/12/08 06:28AM

♦ American Express may be looking for as much as $3.5 billion in government assistance as the company struggles with reduced consumer spending and rising defaults. [WSJ]
♦ Hope is fading fast at GM. Shares fell to $2.92 on Tuesday, the lowest level in 65 years, and the company does not expect "to continue as a going concern" without a rescue plan in place by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing ahead with a plan to save the automaker. [NYT, Bloomberg]
♦ Who doesn't want a piece of the bailout? The line outside the Treasury Department in Washington is a long one. [NYT]

Bailout Fears Kick Into High Gear

cityfile · 11/11/08 06:18AM

♦ With so many companies looking to tap into the $700 billion bailout, it's clear there won't be enough to go around, and a lot more work (and cash) is going to be needed to fix the problem. [WSJ]
♦ The latest company to convert itself into a bank to tap into government funds: American Express, which earned approval from the Fed to become a commercial bank yesterday as it seeks to cover rising credit card defaults. [Bloomberg]
♦ GM's possible bankruptcy was a major topic of conversation at the White House yesterday when Barack Obama met with George Bush. Meanwhile, shares of GM fell to $3.36 yesterday, its lowest level since 1949. [WSJ, Bloomberg]

Amex Axes

cityfile · 10/30/08 08:58AM

American Express plans to cut 7,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of its work force, Amex chief Ken Chenault announced this morning. [AP]

Time Inc. Pulls Back, Fox News Apologizes

cityfile · 10/29/08 11:32AM

♦ Details on the layoffs and management changes at Time Inc. [NYP]
♦ More on the demise of Maer Roshan's Radar and its God-awful TMZ-like reincarnation. [NYO, HuffPo]
♦ Fox News has apologized for putting a racist and anti-Semite on the air. [MM]
♦ Noted media expert (and former basketball player) Charles Barkley thinks Fox News is "corrupt." [B&C]
♦ Barack Obama's 30-minute infomercial airs tonight. [AdAge, Politico]

Interactive agency's favorite new model: free

Nicholas Carlson · 09/24/08 10:40AM

Here's a new problem for the people running popular online properties like YouTube and Facebook to complain about: Ad agencies love using those sites to market their clients, but advertisers are beginning to realize they don't have to spend a dime to do so.Even when they do, the platform companies aren't the ones who see the profits. Lonelygirl15's creators, for example, make most of their money selling product placements in their videos. YouTube doesn't get any cut of that revenue. A top exec for a major interactive agency told me yesterday: "I keep telling my guys I"m going to do a contest next year to see who can come up with a media plan that costs $0, outside of our fees, of course." It shouldn't be too hard. Marketers create free Facebook pages for all kinds of brands. It's just as free to upload a YouTube video. And if an agency uploads one as clever as the above American Express ad, and its sequel, below, the agency won't need to pay anybody to promote it.