Opening Bell: 01.20.12

Greece Begins Talks With Troika (WSJ)
Greece on Friday began meeting with a visiting delegation of international auditors for a new bailout loan, coinciding with parallel negotiations with private creditors to restructure the country’s debt. The talks with the auditors from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank—known locally as the “troika”—are expected to focus on structural changes Greece must make to secure a new financial-rescue package. “Most of the emphasis will be on structural reforms,” said a Greek government official. The specific focus will be on steps needed to boost Greece’s hidebound economy, now in its fifth year of recession, by liberalizing industries and cutting bureaucratic red tape.

Greek Default Won’t Lessen Contagion Risk, Says Strategist (CNBC)
“An orderly default in the short term is the most likely scenario but this situation is not going to go away. We might get a hard default in 3 to 6 months time,” Ostwald added.

Schwarzman: None of Your Business (WSJ)
Blackstone Group LP is changing the structure of its investment in a Florida bank after Mr. Schwarzman, founder and chief executive of the private-equity firm, balked at providing information about his personal finances to the Federal Reserve, according to people familiar with the situation. Blackstone is converting part of its 14.1% stake in BankUnited Inc. to nonvoting preferred stock, these people said. The deal will shrink its voting stake to less than 10%, pushing the New York firm below the level at which the Fed requires personal financial data from the Florida bank’s owners. It isn’t clear why Mr. Schwarzman is sensitive about providing such information. The longstanding Fed rule is in place to allow the regulator to gauge the safety of banks by evaluating the financial resources of their owners. The financial information gathered about a bank’s owners isn’t available to the public, even if requested under the Freedom of Information Act, according to people familiar with Fed policies.

PETA asks Jamie Dimon for O.J.’s house (CNN Money)
In a letter addressed to Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase’s CEO, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked if the bank would either donate or sell the house to the animal rights group for a “nominal sum” once the bank completes the foreclosure it’s pursuing on Simpson’s home. Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s president, assured Dimon in the letter that if the organization is able to acquire the five-bedroom Kendall, Fla. home, it would put it to good use by turning it into a “Meat Is Murder” museum that would teach visitors that “nonviolence begins on our plates.” PETA said it chose Simpson’s home because the former football star actively endorsed the consumption of meat. Simpson, they said, was a spokesman for a chicken restaurant chain, owned two restaurants himself and held an ownership stake in several HoneyBaked Ham stores.

Credit Scoops Up AIG Bonds (WSJ)
The bonds were part of a portfolio that the New York Fed took on as part of the 2008 bailout of American International Group Inc. The deal came after the regional Fed bank quietly solicited bids from four large securities dealers, and could set a precedent for how it disposes of other assets in the coming months, market participants said. The New York Fed didn’t disclose how much Credit Suisse paid for the bonds, which had an unpaid principal balance of $7 billion, but the amount is likely to be more than $3 billion based on prices of comparable debt. The Swiss bank’s U.S. securities arm is expected to resell most of the securities to investors.

Man arrested over importation of Saddam Hussein statue’s buttock (Guardian)
A 66-year-old man has been arrested by detectives investigating claims that a buttock from a statue of Saddam Hussein was illegally brought back to the UK after the invasion of Iraq. Derbyshire police said the man was detained on suspicion of breaching the 2003 Iraq Sanctions Order, which governs the importation of “Iraqi cultural property” – including items of archaeological, historical or religious importance. The buttock – a 2ft lump of bronze – was saved from being melted down for scrap metal by 52-year-old former SAS soldier Nigel “Spud” Ely after he witnessed the statue being toppled by US marines in Baghdad in 2003.

New Normal on Wall Street: Smaller and Restrained (NYT)
“No matter how you cut it, the Goldman Sachs of tomorrow is not going to be the Goldman Sachs of 1999, when it did its I.P.O., or the Goldman Sachs of 2006, when it was at the high point of the cycle,” said Brad Hintz, a senior analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. As profits fall way short of internal targets, the executives who run Wall Street may have to cut back hard, to stop profits from falling even further. When asked by an analyst on Wednesday whether Goldman Sachs was thinking of downsizing to deal with the difficult business conditions, David A. Viniar, the bank’s chief financial officer, said, “That is one of the most critical questions and a very difficult one to answer.”

Foreclosure Deal By February (NYP)
State AGs are expected to meet in Washington on Monday to nail down terms of the settlement, which could hit mortgage servicers with as much as $25 billion in fines and penalties. The Obama administration has been pressing participants to reach a pact before his State of the Union address on Jan. 24. Sources said while it’s unlikely that a deal will be reached by that time, some are hopeful that one could be reached by the end of the month.

Fed Holds Off For Now On Bond Buys (WSJ)
Some Fed officials are open to more bond buying if the economy doesn’t continue to improve, or if inflation falls much below their objective of about 2%, but they believe the outlook is too murky to move now, and views vary on the costs and benefits.

Marianne Gingrich on Nightline: Newt Requested Divorce on the Phone (Daily Intel)
Marianne says that he asked for an open marriage after already carrying on an affair with Gingrich’s now-wife Callista (his third wife), which Marianne says she refused to accept. Marianne also says that Newt requested a divorce from her by telephone after she had been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Gingrich divorced his first wife, Jackie, when she was battling cancer.

43 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (43)

  1. Posted by Hello | January 20, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    Great idea! Anyone know how we can get hold of Lenny D's old house?

    – Society for the Humane Internment of Toilets

  2. Posted by PermaGuestII | January 20, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    "You see, me and Dot are swingers: as in 'to swing'"

  3. Posted by Bandersnatch | January 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    We need a president who isn't encumbered by a conventional way of looking at situations or a mawkish inability to make hard decisions. Clearly Newt is that man.

  4. Posted by TheDetailGuy | January 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Yesterday, Icahn buying Lightsquared, today PETA angling to get the Honeybaked Ham endorsers house….

    Has Wilbur been added as a new editor? And I thought Matt was doing great.

  5. Posted by Put_Option | January 20, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Meat isn't murder, unless its butchering Nicole and Goldman. Come on man, they auctioned my Heisman, and now they're taking my house.

    - Juice

  6. Posted by Guest | January 20, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Nordberg!

  7. Posted by Merchant Refugee | January 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    O.J. won't admit
    the crime he commit
    nicole and ron's throats
    that he did slit
    then racist jury
    the Juice they acquit
    because Johnny said
    the glove dont fit

    RIP Ron and Nicole
    Rot in Hell OJ

  8. Posted by Texashedge | January 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    It's a shame that in England they'll now arrest you just for getting a piece of ass.

  9. Posted by Guest | January 20, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I think this is the first time in a while OJ is not the bad guy.

    PETA is only 3 or 4 notches away from WBC.

  10. Posted by Guest | January 20, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Not to mention that England considers Saddam's ass cheek culturally important.

  11. Posted by lucas | January 20, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    The buttock was supposed to become part of a monumental statue to Pippa Middleton's ass.

  12. Posted by shnaps | January 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Looking forward to the release of 'If I Did Stop Making My Mortgage Payments, Here's How It Would Happen'.

  13. Posted by lucas | January 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Stick to your day job.

  14. Posted by The Guest Around | January 20, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    When he said 'I've got an ass that's sculpted in bronze' I didn't think that's what he meant
    -B. Frank

  15. Posted by Texashedge | January 20, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Mrs. Nordberg: Oh, my poor Nordberg! He was such a good man, Frank. He never wanted to hurt anyone. Who would do such a thing?

    Drebin: It's hard to tell…. A gang of thugs, a blackmailer, an angry husband, a gay lover…'

  16. Posted by trojan_ | January 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    OKI: looting the priceless Elgin marbles.
    NKI: acting out a scene from a Sacha Baron Cohen movie.

  17. Posted by Nailz6 | January 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Troikas scare me.

    - L. Trotsky

  18. Posted by Bandersnatch | January 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    And the grammar is atrocious

  19. Posted by pazzo83 | January 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Hey, you're living in Mexico City now right? Just had this ice sculpture thing we had made to honor you, so if I could get your address…

    - J Stalin

  20. Posted by PermaGuestII | January 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    It wasn't "looting;" I was merely removing them to ensure their protection.

    -Lord Elgin

  21. Posted by pazzo83 | January 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    PETA, you guys can have the house for the nominal fee of 100lbs of Certified Angus Prime. Merry fuckin Christmas.

    - J Dimon

  22. Posted by lucas | January 20, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    I know you're being sarcastic, but at the time, the Turks were using the Parthenon as an ammunition depot.

  23. Posted by J. Ceasar | January 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    More of a triumverate man myself

  24. Posted by Danker_Banker | January 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    In the wake of the Italian cruise ship captain's announcement, OJ Simpson has announced that on the June day in 1994 he also slipped and fell with a knife in his hand and accidentally stabbed his wife Nicole in the throat 15 times. He then slipped and fell multiple times in another part of the house, accidentally killing Ron Goldman.

  25. Posted by Anonymous | January 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    We called dibs on that already.

    -Twizzler Lovers United

  26. Posted by Merchant Refugee | January 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    what do you expect for 2 min of effort. caffine hadn't kicked in. lighten up.

  27. Posted by Guest | January 20, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    …suspend your ego and take a no-excuses approach to achieving your goals…

    - Ray Dalio's Principles

  28. Posted by Jude Law | January 20, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I slipped and fell into my nanny once…or twice.

  29. Posted by Guesteeculos | January 20, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Golf clap

  30. Posted by Danker_Banker | January 20, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Shit, nobody's perfect.

    -Newt Gingrich

  31. Posted by PermaGuestII | January 20, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Agreed.

    -N. Bonaparte

  32. Posted by Whoops | January 20, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Nurse #2: Mrs. Nordberg, I think we can save your husband's arm. Where would you like it sent?

  33. Posted by SaavyTrader69 | January 20, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Caffeine hasn't kicked in? It's past NOON? C'mon guy …

    -Saavy Trader

  34. Posted by MEAT | January 20, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    PETA = People for the Eating of Tasty Animals

  35. Posted by aguessman | January 20, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    First, we got LA's crazy condom in porn law and now scheming to grab the homes of troubled meat eaters?!

    -Sasha Grey

  36. Posted by Arnie | January 20, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    You too?

  37. Posted by Guest | January 20, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Amazing how many people don't remember the early(ish) days of the Internet.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_for_the_Ethic

  38. Posted by Newt | January 20, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Over the phone

    Marianne: Newt sweetie I needed to tell you something

    Newt: What is it hun?

    Marriane: Ive been diagnosed with MS

    Newt: Ummmm…. Can you do me a favor and fax me the papers. I aint going thru with this again

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