Posted by Curt on 20 February, 2020 at 9:15 am. 6 comments already!


The Chief Investment Officer for Motley Fool Asset Management described presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s stranglehold over the financial industry as “the closest thing to a mafia power that exists in finance”.

Then-CIO Bill Mann appeared on a Motley Fool financial podcast in 2016, discussing the Bloomberg Terminal apparatus that accounts for a vast majority of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s immense wealth – much of it from clients funded by the Bush/Obama-era bailouts.

The Bloomberg Terminal – effectively a custom keyboard and dual monitors paired with proprietary “Bloomberg Professional” software –  has become a mainstay of corporate elites since the 1980s.

“…I don’t just mean New York City, I mean San Francisco, Tokyo, Kazakhstan, whatever, whoever’s in finance,” Mann added.

While some major firms have made noises about moving away from the kit designed by Michael Bloomberg, the reach is still expanding, with around 330,000 Terminals allowing real time access to market data, shipping information, and corporate insider info in use today.

“I’m trying to use a word other than ‘mafia’, but I’m going to fail at it,” said Mann. “I think Bloomberg is the closest thing to a mafia power that exists in finance, because it is such a default, and they have been able, for years, to come in and say, ‘Well, this is our pricing. Discount? No. There’s no discount. This is our pricing.’”

Bloomberg’s client list also includes you, the tax payer, with cities such as Oceanside, California operating Bloomberg Terminals at market rates. The extent to which Bloomberg LP provides to the public sector is unclear, and Michael Bloomberg still controls 88 percent of the private company, which is notoriously secretive about its arrangements.


In the industry, the Terminal was viewed as a game-changer.

Bloomberg was let go from his job at the New York investment bank, Salomon Brothers, in 1981. He received $10m in severance and immediately set out to create his Terminal, with swift success.

The package provides an enormous amount of access in a closed environment for the hyper-elites who were bailed out after the 2008 financial recession, and accounts for at least three quarters of Bloomberg LP’s annual revenue which stands at a whopping $10bn a year.

The Terminal hardware alongside the software known as Bloomberg Professional currently services over 330,000 users an average of around $22,000 per year. That’s over $7bn a year from subscriptions in the rapacious world of global finance.

The software isn’t just for brokers or traders. It does a lot whole lot more, as FastCompany reported in 2015:

Bloomberg Professional does get quite graphical in spots: For instance, it offers a feature that lets you track ships carrying commodities as they travel around a map, a bit of intelligence that can be very valuable to a trader. It’s still about data: “You can see the position of every ship in the world,” says Zach Haehn, head of R&D for Bloomberg’s San Francisco operation. “What they’re carrying, how fast they’re going, where they’re going.”

The Terminal itself has been the subject of some controversy, with a number of stories over the past few decades painting a picture of just how much “mafia”-style control Mayor Bloomberg has wielded over the global industry.


In 2013 it was revealed that journalists at his Bloomberg media company could see inside the Terminal, i.e. spy on Bloomberg Terminal’s customers.

“Until recently, all Bloomberg employees could access information about when and how terminals were used by any customer. But after complaints by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, Bloomberg says its 2,000 or so journalists no longer have access to that information, though other staff still do. Bloomberg has more than 15,000 employees,” Quartz reported.

“The banks were concerned that Bloomberg News was keeping tabs on terminal usage in order to aid its reporting. JP Morgan specifically cited coverage of the bank’s disastrous derivatives trading, known as the “London Whale,” which Bloomberg was the first to reveal.”

Former Bloomberg employees have stated they could access a “wide array of data”, with high-profile figures such as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s customer service chat logs being freely available to Bloomberg employees.

The New York Post reported that “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”, with one Goldman Sachs employee stating: “You can basically see how many times someone has looked up news stories or if they used their messaging functions”.

Then-Bloomberg CEO Daniel Doctoroff was forced to admit: “Although we have long made limited customer relationship data available to our journalists, we realize this was a mistake.”

Shortly after the confession, Oceanside’s Bloomberg Terminal contract was revealed by the media. It asserted:

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