1. Monte's Fall
Molte Grazie, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena! We needed a little Italian insouciance for this week's Dumbest list.
The beleaguered Italian bank casually posted on its Web site Saturday that customer deposits fell by "a few billion euros" in the wake of recently disclosed derivative losses at the lender. The startling lack of specificity led to a 3% drop in the bank's stock when it opened for trading Monday. And on Tuesday Italy's stock market regulator was forced to ban short sales of the stock after it sank an additional 12%.
Last week, Monte dei Paschi reported a higher-than-expected net loss for 2012 as a result of a rise in provisions for bad loans and 730 million euros in losses on the potentially fraudulent derivatives trades which were brought to light in February. Nevertheless, the bank, Italy's third largest, did not offer any guidance on its first quarter results."The illicit nature of the derivatives trades and their consequence on the bank's assets exposed the bank to reputational damage that was immediately translated into . . . the withdrawal of a few billion euros in deposits," the bank said in a document for shareholders attending its April 29 meeting. Don't worry guys. It's like Mussolini said when he was hanging out in Loreto Square: Oggni in figura, domani in sepoltura. Monte dei Paschi sued Nomura Holdings and Deutsche Bank on March 10th for their roles in sticking the bank with losses on structured-products deals. Nomura stated that it "acted fairly and responsibly with the client at all times, and strongly refutes any suggestion to the contrary." For its part, Deutsche Bank said "it will vigorously defend itself" and considered the claim "groundless." As for Monte's brass, the bank's chief financial officer said after the earnings were released last Thursday that it was "quick in recovering ground in March" on lost deposits in February. Good for you guys. Glad you saw an uptick in March. But we can almost guarantee that your nonchalant Web disclosure -- and this week's ensuing stock selloff -- will cause even more Italian depositors to give you the boot. Congratulations to Lorraine Rothman from Staatsburg New York for winning our April Fools Quiz! Thanks to all the readers who sent their entries. Here are the answers: 1.) C, 2.) A, 3.) D, 4.) D, 5.) C, 6.) D, 7.) A, 8.) B, 9.) B, 10.) A, Bonus: D. Follow @5gsonthestreet -- Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York City.