Bloomberg Markets

There may be, to quote George Costanza, painful shrinkage in key sectors, but Bloomberg Markets is not among them. Capitalizing on growing editorial demand, and named for the man who turned financial terminals into an eponymous media empire, the monthly launched a redesign in November and a rate-base hike -- from 315,0000 to 355,000 -- beginning with the January issue.

One reason is owner Michael Bloomberg's deep pockets. And by deep, I mean bottomless, like Republican indifference to 9/11 rescue workers. Fortunately, committed politicians, such as Sen. Chuck Schumer and Bloomberg, championed their cause, which got a much-needed kick from Jon Stewart's public shaming. He proved the Fourth Estate is still a governmental watchdog -- even if by press we mean advocacy satirists.  

Keeping an eye on business and its machinations is the province of Bloomberg Markets, which utilizes the resources of more than 2,300 Bloomberg reporters worldwide to produce a rarity in today's news cycle: in-depth, investigative journalism.

The publication, which targets the global financial elite, covers the companies and people that impact the markets. But far from being a cheerleader or apologist, Bloomberg Markets isn't afraid to harpoon white-collar criminals who masquerade as businessmen. The article "The Men Who Rigged The Market" explores how bankers conspired to bilk local governments. High-flyers from Bank of America, USB, Citigroup, fixed the bids, blithely milking municipalities while enriching themselves. The same banks that pushed subprime mortgages fleeced $400 billion of bond proceeds between 1998 and 2005. The conspirators deserve all the torments of hell Hieronymus Bosch painted. Let's hope they endure them in prison, while playing love slave to a guy named Bubba.

Similarly, in "How Candover Lost Its Way," the writers explain how one of the U.K.'s pioneering buyout firms, a mythical name in the private-equity industry, is selling its holdings and returning money to shareholders. How they got into trouble is a problem on both sides of the Atlantic: Dealmakers deployed unprecedented levels of debt to buy companies at skyrocketing prices. As a result of such profligate spending, many such companies have (Lehman Bros.) or are in danger of defaulting. This is more than unparalleled greed; it is a massive ethical breakdown, where lies and cover-ups are commonplace.

Even the cover story on Bob Diamond, an American who takes over Barclays, the 320-year-old British bank, isn't a slaphappy portrait. It notes that in some U.K. media and political circles, he is the "personification of a greedy banker, a symbol of all that has gone wrong in global finance." Diamond has clearly got his job cut out: Barclay's stock declined 15% in the 12 months ended on Nov. 8; plus, it's being shunned by investors. But don't waste your sympathies if Big B's efforts fail. His yearly compensation package could rebuild the New York subway system.

It takes inside knowledge to understand the financial world, and talented writers to make its avaricious buyouts and mergers read like an adventure story gone awry. Bloomberg Markets carries it off -- aided by clean, stylish art direction. In addition, the range of subjects -- from discovering that the pollution figures companies and countries report don't add up, to the murkier aspects of the bank bailouts to the hidden victims of Mexico's drug wars -- is impressive.

There is a crazy kind of symmetry in the realization that Mother Jones and Bloomberg Markets share a similar practice: Both record the follies and stupendous corruption of the powerful. Yet in the latter's case, there is little political screed; the focus is serious, well-researched reporting.

The subject matter is admittedly a niche market, but the articles are eye-opening. Anyone who believes Wall Street knows what it's doing, should scan Bloomberg Markets. Or you can defer to the great 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac, who chronicled the years after the fall of Napoleon I: "Behind every great fortune is a crime."

MAG STATS

Published by: Bloomberg L.P.

Frequency: Monthly

Web site: http://www.bloomberg.com/markets-magazine

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