It annoys Assange that media outlets focus on any of that - or even question him at all. He would like to be thought of as an unorthodox journalist who's breaking the rules in the name of free speech and capitalism. Assange walked off the set of CNN when an interviewer inquired about the effects of his organization's leaks and gave lip to Larry King when asked about his personal life.
In the worst-case scenario for bank investors, Assange has got a data trove that threatens to take down not just one particular bank but cause a domino effect among any that have engaged in similar tactics. WikiLeaks is expected to release the information next year, which leaves plenty of time for speculation, fear-mongering, navel-gazing and leaks about the leaks.
In the best-case scenario, Ken Lewis' simply had a large, provocative iTunes playlist.
The outcome is likely to land somewhere in the middle, much like other scandals that have plagued big banks of late - from the SEC's investigation of Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) to more recent probes into foreclosure practices and worries about exposure to mortgage buybacks:¿ A big announcement is made, with embarrassing and fearful disclosures. ¿ Big bank stocks - or just one in particular - will sell off. ¿ Speculative investors will make a killing shorting the stock while long investors sit on the sidelines, digesting information. ¿ There are investigations, hearings, statements and settlements. ¿ A few months later, when the stock's on the mend, investors will rib each other about a deal that belonged in the litter box. It's Wall Street's cycle since the financial crisis began: Wash, rinse, repeat. -- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York.
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