The man, of course, is Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks known for blockbuster data dumps that have humiliated top diplomats and put lives in danger.
On Tuesday, after investors realized that Assange probably has a mark on Bank of America as his next target, shares of the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking behemoth plunged as much as 3.5%, hitting a new 52-week low of $10.91.
Bank of America responded by saying, essentially, that this is old news and it doesn't know what Assange is talking about: "More than a year ago WikiLeaks claimed to have the computer hard drive of a Bank of America executive. Aside from the claims themselves we have no evidence that supports this assertion," a Bank of America spokesman told TheStreet. "We are unaware of any new claims by WikiLeaks that pertain specifically to Bank of America." Needless to say, BofA's statement didn't inspire confidence. There are two polar opposite - but equally valid - viewpoints on how the "megaleak" about the "megabank" might play out. Unfortunately, both views are founded on shaky ground. One camp thinks Bank of America shares are selling off on nothing more than hype. But that view relies on a belief that its previous management would have acted in a scrupulous manner and disclosed important information up-front - something it had a terrible track record of doing. (Remember the Merrill bonuses, the Merrill losses and the
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) 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. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Lauren Tara LaCapra. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/laurenlacapra. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.