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Best of the Web, North American financials edition


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Best of the Web, North American financials edition

A former Goldman Sachs executive criticizes her former employer's investment into Venezuelan sovereign debt, an asset manager compares passive investing with excessive antibiotic use, and an inside look at the demise of the Molina brothers.

How the Molina Brothers got bounced from the family health care firm

Former Molina Healthcare Inc. CEO Joseph Mario Molina and CFO John Molina's emphasis on providing quality patient care, ahead of shareholders' interests at times, may have been a primary factor in their ouster from the company, The Wall Street Journal reported. Missteps tied to the company's participation in state-run exchanges brought about by the Affordable Care Act, and increased customer enrollment in Medicaid expansion, reportedly affected Joseph Molina's standing with the board, according to the Journal.

Goldman's Venezuelan bond deal a 'cynically opportunist bet:' Fmr. Goldman managing director

When Goldman Sachs Group Inc. purchased $2.8 billion in Petróleos de Venezuela SA-issued bonds at a hefty discount of $865 million, the company "effectively pushed" a geopolitical agenda at the expense of Venezuelan citizens, Nomi Prins, a former Goldman managing director, told CNBC. But instead of betting that Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro will hold onto power, Goldman seems to be betting that he will be unseated by a new regime. That would potentially bolster the value of the bonds, Prins said in an interview. Goldman reportedly made the purchase through a broker on the secondary market at a time when Venezuela's central bank reserves linger near an all-time low, Prins added.

World Bank's star economist is sidelined in war over words

World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer stepped down from his position with the bank's research group amid growing discontent with his staff related to, of all things, his strict attention to grammatical detail. Frustrated by his staff's tendency for sprinkling long-winded explanations into presentations, Romer often interrupted researchers when they strayed off topic, sources told Bloomberg News. The economist also expressed displeasure at staff members' frequent use of the conjunction "and" in their writing.

How a short-seller may have caused an accidental sell-off for two Canadian companies

Shares in Element Fleet Management Corp. plummeted as much as 40% on May 31, moments after a short-seller on Twitter said it identified an unnamed takeover target. The sell-off in Element triggered a circuit breaker restriction at the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, the Financial Post reported, temporarily halting trading in the stock. The stock later rebounded and the short-selling firm, Muddy Waters, later said it was targeting a mining company.

Passive investing is worse than...the misuse of antibiotics

Renaud de Planta, chairman of Pictet Asset Management, likens the proliferation of passive investing with a patient's overdependence on antibacterial drugs when looking for a quick remedy. Much like antibiotics, the products may be valuable in moderation, but create "more harm than good" when misused, De Planta told the Financial Times.

An Amazon engineer is letting thousands of Twitch users play the stock market with $50,000 of his own money

After years of playing with the idea, Mike Roberts, an engineer with Amazon, launched a trading platform on the company's video game streaming site involving $50,000 of his own savings. The platform, which Business Insider compares favorably with "Twitch Plays Pokemon," allows users to vote on the purchase or sale of various securities with Roberts' personal funds.