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3 Reasons Cryptocurrencies Fail

The Northern Trust Company, a 129-year-old financial institution managing over $10 trillion in assets, has dipped its big toe in cryptocurrency.

With rabid speculation going on in the market, Northern Trust had to do something about it. But the trust is not taking cryptocurrency directly just yet; it will work through some hedge funds for now.

That's because digital coins are not real money, and most of the cryptocurrencies have crashed and burned already. Here are the main reasons they fail:

The state of Alaska has put its billion-dollar oil bond offering on hold after a lawsuit was filed challenging the recently passed law authorizing the bond sale. The oil companies that were likely to be paid back as a result may just have to wait a little while longer.

Curiously, the lawsuit was actually filed before the law was signed by the state's governor, and it has nevertheless resulted in stalling the bond sale. It was noted that while the lawsuit's challenge is only preliminary and the allegations haven't been tested, the effect is unavoidable in the bond market. Simply put, the lawsuit impacts the bond's "marketability" or makes the bonds just a little bit less attractive to the investors since the legal challenge adds risk.

In what some might call a turning of the table, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has filed a lawsuit to stop the Karfunkel family, which has a controlling interest in AmTrust, from taking the insurer private.

Icahn's lawsuit alleges that the Karfunkel family is seeking to transfer "huge amounts of value" through a share purchase at a time when the insurer is poised to recover from its recent setbacks. On Icahn's own website, he explains that the deal price the Karfunkel family proposed is less than half of what the share price was about a year ago. The way Icahn sees it, particularly with him owning nearly 10 percent, this just isn't fair (to him and other "minority" shareholders).

The Theranos debacle abruptly shot the company in the foot and into the spotlight all at the same time. As the story has developed over the past couple years, quite a few details have emerged about the SEC's charge of massive fraud against the company, it's CEO Elizabeth Holmes, and president Sunny Balwani.

Recently, SEC announced that it has reached a settlement as to Theranos and Holmes, but is still pursuing Balwani. The settlement requires Holmes to divest her super-majority hold, give back almost 20 million shares, pay $500,000, and give up control of the company she founded. Additionally, as part of the settlement, Holmes cannot be the CEO or director of a publicly held corporation for a decade. In earlier compromises, Holmes and Theranos agreed not to run clinical labs for a period of years and also agreed to pay millions in fines.

Everyone's least favorite former pharmaceutical executive, Martin Shkreli was just sentenced to seven years in prison stemming from his conviction for misleading investors in two hedge funds. Apparently, the "junior varsity" prosecution, as the disgraced executive called it, was good enough.

Interestingly, Shkreli will receive six months credit for time served as his bond was revoked after his conviction because he put a bounty on a lock of Hilary Clinton's hair using social media. The bounty drew quite a bit of attention, and the Secret Service, which provides Clinton's security, and the prosecutors and court, did not think the alleged joke was funny at all. In addition to the seven years, Shkreli faced severe financial penalties, and one property deprivation that would make even the most stoic 14 year old breakdown in tears.

Spotify Files for 'Risky' Public Offering

When it comes to making money in the stock market, timing is everything.

"Buy low, sell high" is an oversimplification for the average investor. Indeed, the market can become quite complicated in an age when companies can make or lose billions in one day of trading.

Spotify, the music streaming service, just revealed it hopes to trade at least $1 billion in shares in an initial public offering. Could a $1.6 billion lawsuit have anything to do with it?

Theranos Threatens Bankruptcy; Judge Stops Proposed Deal

Theranos played the bankruptcy card in a class-action against the company, but it was a bad play that derailed a proposed deal.

In documents unsealed in Delaware Chancery Court, investors said the company threatened to file for bankruptcy protection if they didn't accept a deal to dismiss their claims. A Theranos lawyer tried to pressure Partner Investments LP and two other funds, which invested more than $96 million in the company, to accept more equity instead.

According to reports, the plaintiffs said Theranos' attorney "sent the unmistakable message" that the company would declare bankruptcy if the investors turned down the deal. The plaintiffs then discovered that Theranos engineered the deal to make it impossible for the funds to obtain "any recovery."

Judge Travis Laster has stopped the proposed deal for now and set a hearing on the matter for June 26.

A Ninth Circuit decision interpreting Dodd-Frank to have broad whistleblower protections may have some far-reaching consequences, according to the ruling's lone dissenter. And he's not talking about disrupting administrative schemes for securities law enforcement.

Instead, the decision could risk unleashing a jurisprudential version of the parasitic alien from John Carpenter's horror classic "The Thing," according to the Ninth Circuit's Judge John B. Owens. Here's why.

Facebook Shareholder Suit Alleges Zuckerberg Conflict of Interest

It reads like a scene from an old movie, a la Sweet Smell of Success in 1957:

"I love this dirty town," says J.J. Hunsacker, a syndicated columinist played by Burt Lancaster. He wants to break up a romance between his younger sister and a jazz musician. Sid Falco, an unprincipled press agent portrayed by Tony Curtis, is the man to do it.

"The cat's in the bag and the bag's in the river," Falco promises.

Funny, that's the same line Marc Andreessen texted to Mark Zuckerberg during one of the biggest deals for the future of Facebook. Zuckerberg, who was trying to retain his majority voting rights while unloading billions worth of his stock, replied dubiously. He probably didn't know what Andreessen was saying.

"Does that mean the cat's dead?" he asked.

Mary Jo White announced last week that she would resign her post as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission when President Barack Obama leaves the White House in January, despite having three years left on her term. White has been one of the longest serving SEC chairs, overseeing the agency as it implemented the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and took a more aggressive stance to enforcement.

The changing of the guard at the SEC could mark a new period of deregulation under the Trump administration and an unwinding of the restrictions imposed under Dodd-Frank.