Audit Notes: Bloomberg snoops, Alan Abelson, Niall in denial

And the New York Post scoops

The New York Post reports that Goldman Sachs complained to Bloomberg that its reporters were spying on it via the company’s famous terminal:

In one instance, a Bloomberg reporter asked a Goldman executive if a partner at the bank had recently left the firm — noting casually that he hadn’t logged into his Bloomberg terminal in some time, sources added.

Goldman later learned that Bloomberg staffers could determine not only which of its employees had logged into Bloomberg’s proprietary terminals but how many times they had used particular functions, insiders said…

“You can basically see how many times someone has looked up news stories or if they used their messaging functions,” said one Goldman insider.

“It made us think, ‘Well, what else does [Bloomberg] have access to?,’ ” the insider said.

No kidding. Bloomberg’s instant-message function is one of its killer apps.

Bloomberg has now disabled reporters’ ability to access this information, but they should never have had it in the first place.

— Alan Abelson, a giant of Dow Jones and one of the all-time business-press greats, died yesterday at 87.

Abelson spent 57 years at Barron’s, including a 12-year stint at the helm. He started writing his withering Up and Down Wall Street column in 1966 and continued writing through February of this year.

Ed Finn, who replaced him as editor of Barron’s two decades ago, eulogizes him:

For many readers, there can be no substitute for Alan’s witty, wise, and wonderfully written comments each week in Up and Down Wall Street. But Alan’s contributions to Barron’s, and to financial journalism, go beyond his marvelous column. During his career, Alan trained dozens of journalists to be skeptical, to be exacting, to help average investors, and to be on the lookout for Wall Street’s crooks. About 10 of these fine journalists still work at Barron’s, I’m happy to say. Others have gone on to do groundbreaking work at The New York Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and numerous financial newsletters.

One of the unique things about Alan was that his keen knowledge of Wall Street was matched by his love of artful writing. Before Alan began his newspaper career in 1947, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Chemistry from The City College of New York and a master’s degree from the prestigious Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, which counts among its alumni Flannery O’Connor, Jane Smiley, and John Irving. In our view, Alan ranks among them.

Unlike a lot of the business press, Abelson never bought Wall Street’s BS.

— Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal has a good post running down how wrong Niall Ferguson has been about seemingly everything throughout the crisis:

His most spectacularly incorrect call came in in the Summer of 2009, when he took a victory lap, proclaiming that since interest rates were rising, he was correct that the bond vigilantes were rebelling against the large stimulus and historic deficits.

Treasury rates have plunged again since then. Weisenthal also remembers Ferguson’s kooky claim in Newsweek that we were in double-digit annual inflation, when, in fact, prices were increasing about 1 percent a year on average.

In February 2010 he predicted a Greek crisis was coming to America. Verdict: Wrong.

And in June 2009, he predicted a painful conflict (imminently) between monetary and fiscal policy. Verdict: wrong.

Don’t forget Ferguson’s deceptive and flat-wrong Newsweek article from last summer.

Ferguson is a professor at Harvard.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,