What the financial crisis, subsequent taxpayer bailouts, zero prosecutions of financial industry participants and further consolidation of the economy by oligarchs has taught us more than anything else is that the super rich and politically connected are not allowed to fail. Apparently, this may also apply to the head of one of the largest firms in what is quickly becoming the most despised “industry” in the nation.
By now, pretty much everyone in America knows about Michael Lewis’ book Flash Boys, which exposes the high frequency trading (HFT) industry for the money-sucking parasite it is. However, what will really get your blood boiling, particularly if you live in Florida, is how the CEO of one of the biggest players in the HFT space, Virtu Financial, is looking for taxpayers to bail-out his poorly performing investment in the Florida Panther NFL hockey franchise.
This takes having “some nerve” to a whole new level of absurdity.
Submitted by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
Vincent Viola, whose high-frequency trading firm plans to raise millions of dollars in an initial public offering next month, is seeking tax dollars to help cover the bills for the Florida Panthers hockey team he bought six months ago.
Viola asked lawmakers in South Florida’s Broward County to use $64 million in taxpayer funds for arena bond payments owed by the team, which says it’s losing money as attendance has fallen to a 14-year low. Officials in Broward, which encompasses Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic Coast, disagree on how to proceed, with some saying that if they don’t pick up the tab, the team may move and leave taxpayers with $225 million in debt and an empty arena.
Sounds a lot like the nonsense we all head that went something like “we must bail-out and not regulate banking criminals otherwise they will leave the U.S.” Oh the horror, these crooks might take their organized crime elsewhere…
What’s unfolding in Florida shows how team owners seek an advantage in negotiating stadium deals with municipalities banking on the venues to help power their economies. Localities from Atlanta to Glendale, Arizona, have given out more taxpayer money when facing the prospect that teams may relocate.
All we need now is Hank Paulson to come out, roll up his sleeves and warn of martial law if the Panthers relocate.
At least 10 professional sports franchises are pursuing taxpayer-backed stadium deals in Florida, including the billionaire owners of the Miami Heat basketball team and Miami Dolphins football team.
A “sports team” is just another oligarch trophy asset.
Virtu, which announced plans last month to sell shares, won’t start marketing the offering until after April 20, later than anticipated, two people with knowledge of the matter said this month. The delay came amid scrutiny of high-frequency traders. “Flash Boys,” the Michael Lewis book released last month, argues that high-speed traders, Wall Street brokerages and exchanges have rigged the $23 trillion U.S. stock market.
The team, in its current location since the 1998-99 season, was sold to Viola and Douglas Cifu, Virtu’s chief executive officer, in September for $250 million, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Team Chief Executive Officer Rory Babich declined to comment on the sale price.
The team is losing $25 million annually, according to a county review.
Broward projected at the time that profit-sharing would have returned $76.6 million to taxpayers by now. The county has received $331,000.
With more tax money, the Panthers could recruit better players, said Babich, the team CEO. The county could share the profits, he said.
Yeah, and if it doesn’t work out who cares, it’s just the stupid taxpayers’ money anyway.
In addition to taking over bond payments, which would be made over the next 14 years, the team wants concessions that would cost county taxpayers another $14 million in the same period.
Apparently, selling tickets to ice hockey games in an area with an average daily high temperature of 83 degrees is just slightly more difficult than the 100% success rate you can achieve by rigging stock markets. Thanks for playing Vincent.
Full article here.