Opening Bell: 03.01.12

Fast, Furious At MF Global (WSJ)
At 4:53 p.m. five days before MF Global Holdings Ltd. collapsed, an employee in its Chicago office asked a co-worker to move $165 million from one of the securities firm’s bank accounts to another. “Approved,” came the response one minute later, according to an email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Within about 15 minutes, the money moved to an MF Global account at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., internal documents show. Within minutes, though, several MF Global employees realized there was a problem, according to people familiar with the matter. The cash actually had been transferred out of a customer-segregated account, not one of the company’s own bank accounts, the documents show. The employees tried to reverse the $165 million transaction but failed.

RBS In Initial Pact To Sell Asian Assets (WSJ)
CIMB, based in Kuala Lumpur, said Thursday it had signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire certain parts of RBS’s cash-equities, equity-capital-markets, and corporate-finance businesses across the Asia-Pacific region.

Turnaround King Tries to Convince Investors He Hasn’t Lost a Step (NYT)
Over the last decade on Wall Street, Wilbur L. Ross Jr. has been called many names, including a vulture, a turnaround king and Mr. Distress. One description thrown around these days, though, quickly gets under his skin: old. “Each weekend I play at least one and maybe two sets of tennis a day,” Mr. Ross, 74, said in a telephone interview when asked how he responds to questions about his age. “My doubles team was in the finals recently at my tennis club in Palm Beach and lost a tiebreaker after a three-hour match.

Blackstone Founder Tops Private Equity Pay League (FT)
Schwarzman received $74 million in cash distributions from investment funds started before Blackstone’s 2007 New York listing and $134.5 million in dividends from his 21 percent stake in the company, according to regulatory filings. He was also paid a $350,000 base salary and received $4.6 million from the firm’s share of investor profits, known as carried interest.

Former Goldman Partner Peter Kiernan Now a Self-Fashioned Political Pundit (NYT)
After retiring from the firm in 2001, the former banker headed a movie star’s charity, got a shamrock tattooed on his rear end after losing a bet with his son, adopted a Vietnamese potbellied pig named Mojo and, most recently, published a political best seller with a title that is not quite printable in a family newspaper.

Apple Stock to Hit $1,000? Steve Wozniak Believes So (CNBC)
“You know, people talk about $1,000 stock price… you know, at first you want to doubt it but I actually believe that and I don’t really follow stock markets,” Wozniak said.

BofA Weighs New Fees (WSJ)
The search for new sources of income is especially pressing at Bank of America, where 2011 revenue dropped by $26.2 billion, or 22%, from its 2009 level. Bank of America pilot programs in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts now are experimenting with charging $6 to $9 a month for an “Essentials” account. Other account options being tested in those states carry monthly charges of $9, $12, $15 and $25 but give customers opportunities to avoid the payments by maintaining minimum balances, using a credit card or taking a mortgage with Bank of America, according to a memo distributed to employees.

Solar storm alert: Scientist finds 12% chance of breathtaking, possibly crippling, northern lights show (NYDN)
In the next 10 years, there’s a 12% chance of a northern lights display that’s so grand, people could potentially watch in awe from the sidewalks of Manhattan to the beaches of the Caribbean. The last time the world saw such a widespread aurora borealis was 1859. This future event could well be the event of a lifetime for another, far-less beautiful reason: The solar flare that would set off the dazzling sky display could also leave countless people in the dark by frying power grids, communication networks and crucial satellites. It could add up to trillions of dollars in damage once the sky show is all over, followed by a rough recovery that could take years, according to a 2008 analysis of such an event’s impact.

Bernanke Quells Talk Of Fresh Stimulus (Bloomberg)
Bernanke, in testimony to lawmakers yesterday in Washington, described “positive developments” in the job market while saying it’s still “far from normal.” He said the inflationary impact of higher gasoline prices is likely to be temporary.

Star Scam Condo A Steal (NYP)
Kenneth Starr’s swanky Upper East Side condo sold yesterday for $5.6 million — about $2 million less than he paid using money stolen from actress Uma Thurman and heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. The winning bidder at the Treasury Department auction declined to give his name, but said he was a developer who bought the triplex on East 74th Street as an investment. Starr — a money manager whose A-list clients also included Al Pacino and Lauren Bacall — was caught cowering in a closet after his $33 million Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2010. He’s serving seven-plus years in the slammer and facing a divorce from his ex-stripper wife, Diane Passage.

Harvard Business School? You’ll Go Through Dee Leopold First (WSJ)
People overestimate the role the essays play in the application. They’re very, very helpful for the candidate, and they’re a really good platform for starting a discussion in an interview, but we don’t admit people because of an essay. I don’t need to have too much of a dramatic arc. There are some essays where I start reading and all of a sudden I feel like I’m in the middle of a very well-written novel. It can get overdone and overcrafted. Sometimes the challenge in the essays is to be honest and to be clear. It may be helpful for someone to say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Goldman Sachs Executive In US Insider Probe (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs said in a Feb. 28 regulatory filing that “from time to time, the firm and its employees are the subject of or otherwise involved in regulatory investigations relating to insider trading, the potential misuse of material nonpublic information and the effectiveness of the firm’s insider trading controls and information barriers.”

Eating At Benihana With Tracy Morgan (Grub Street)
“I love Benihana like I love my favorite strip club,” Tracy Morgan says. “Sue’s Rendezvous and Benihana, that’s the joint. “This is my family. These people know me. This is fancy, man. They cook the food right in front of you. They might go to Pathmark and buy it, but they’re gonna cook it. Fancy. It’s romantic. I go up to the hood, get a chicken head, bring her here and I’ll wrap her up. It’s fancy.” Guy at the next table is loving it. “That’s my thing, going up there in the hood and getting them chickens pregnant.” Tracy’s talking directly to the table next to us now. Everyone, about seven strangers, is on the hook. “I’m old-school. I don’t be pulling out. I ain’t wearing no rubber, either. If you ain’t willing to die for it, you didn’t really want to have it.”

66 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (66)

  1. Posted by Movie Buff | March 1, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Hey guys, when's the next aurora borealis? It's not tonight right?
    I have this cousin Marcus who saw one he said it blew his mind I want to make sure I never ever miss out on an aurora borealis…

    – Alan

  2. Posted by VonSloneker | March 1, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    I usually understand about half of what Tracy Morgan says, but for some reason find him funny. I don't even know if I should be examining my motives for finding him amusing…

    – Splash & Meadow

  3. Posted by Moesha's Guest | March 1, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    So if I am to understand Tracy, and I think I do, he got a chicken named Hana pregnant and then he ate said chicken in front of strangers while threatening their lives?

  4. Posted by Hakuna Matata Guy | March 1, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    I got a reservation at Minetta Tavern tonight. Anyone else?

  5. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    – HBS Candidate

  6. Posted by RBS Sucks guy | March 1, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    RBS Sucks

  7. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    So this is who to blame for admitting Tyra

  8. Posted by Dubs | March 1, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    I'm Brian Fellows and I'm gunna get that giraffe pregnant!

  9. Posted by Sam Sifton | March 1, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    I had a reservation tonight at Per Se, but Mr. Morgan sold me on this Benihana. Anyone know if they accept Amex?

  10. Posted by bring it | March 1, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Mojo > Wilbur

  11. Posted by VanillAnalyst | March 1, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    “You know, people talk about $1,000 stock price… you know, at first you want to doubt it but I actually believe that and I don’t really follow stock markets,” Wozniak said.

    I mean sure, knowing less about something obviously makes you more qualified to have an opinion on it. Honestly, why don't they just feature Ms. Cleo every morning giving us her take on market value. Insanity.

  12. Posted by Tracy | March 1, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Any chickenheads coming?

  13. Posted by Citibank Rates Sales | March 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    I know they take Diners Club

  14. Posted by Spankey | March 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    The Hangover.

    – UBS Movie Quote Explanation Quant

  15. Posted by Jim Mora fan | March 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Are you kidding me, trillion-dollar crippling auroras?? We're just getting things back on track, trying to make a little money here and now we've got trillion-dollar destructive solar events? What's next, locusts??

    – finance guy who's had about enough of all this shit

  16. Posted by Serg | March 1, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Back off nilla, she signed a non compete when we brought her on last year

    UBS HR

  17. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    So Kiernan is a Goldman guy who thinks he knows more about everything than everyone. Shocking.

  18. Posted by Endgame | March 1, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    just send it all to dalio at bridge, buy a pig, start a blog and hit the tennis court.

  19. Posted by Wilbur | March 1, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Hey, you know today is actually National Pig Day!

  20. Posted by GueSt | March 1, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    You just don't know him like we do.

  21. Posted by VanillAnalyst | March 1, 2012 at 11:15 AM


    Guess I'll just have to see if we can tempt the magic 8 ball at RBS away. Doubt he'll be too afraid of breaching.

  22. Posted by VonSloneker | March 1, 2012 at 11:25 AM


    – Jim

  23. Posted by Texashedge | March 1, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Well, who can forget his illustrious movie career?

  24. Posted by Texashedge | March 1, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    "Apple stock price to hit $1000?"

    Ooh, ooh…I learned this one in an interview! The EBITDA would have to double.

  25. Posted by PermaGuestII | March 1, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Long kerosene lamps, coal stoves, horses.

    Short AAPL.

  26. Posted by Abe_Froman_ | March 1, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    $1,000 a share isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A $1B a share!

  27. Posted by morgan | March 1, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    and chickens

  28. Posted by zoe cruz | March 1, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    men are pigs

  29. Posted by party down | March 1, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Chalmers: Yes, I should be, good lord what is happening in there?!

    Skinner: Aurora Borealis?

    Chalmers: Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?

    Skinner: Yes.

    Chalmers: May I see it?

    Skinner: Er, no.

    Agnes: Seymour, the house is on fire!

    Skinner: No, Mother, it's just the Northern Lights.

  30. Posted by SylentMajority | March 1, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Given her net worth. She is probably more valuable to the network than you… Just saying…

  31. Posted by A 10 Year Old | March 1, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Damn, that's some expensive areolas.

  32. Posted by Cut Me | March 1, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Holy shit! Jeremy Lin can cook to!

  33. Posted by PermaGuestII | March 1, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Chalmers: I thought you said we were having steamed clams.

    Skinner: Oh no, steamed hams- it's an upstate New York word for hamburgers.

    Chalmers: Really? Where? I'm from Utica.

    Skinner: Syracuse.

    -guy having flashbacks to 1994

  34. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Oregon Trail Capital Management

  35. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Cook to what? A cookbook?

  36. Posted by TheJB Summoner | March 1, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    O Joke Briefer where art thou ?

    ~ Perplexed in Scandinavia

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