Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 03.02.11

Financial Crisis Amnesia (WSJ)
Tim Geithner: “My wife occasionally looks up from the newspaper with bewilderment while reading another story about people in the financial world or their lobbyists complaining about Wall Street reform or claiming they didn’t need the Troubled Asset Relief Program. She reminds me of the panicked calls she answered for me at home late at night or early in the morning in 2008 from the then-giants of our financial system. We cannot afford to forget the lessons of the crisis and the damage it caused to millions of Americans. Amnesia is what causes financial crises. These reforms are worth fighting to preserve.”

IMF Says Threat Of Sharp Global Slowdown Has Eased (Reuters)
So that’s nice.

Life as Libor Traders Knew It Seen as Abusive by Investigators (Bloomberg)
Regulators probing the alleged manipulation of global interest rates are focusing on what traders involved in setting the benchmark say were routine discussions condoned by their superiors…“A few hundred people, mostly based in one city and sitting in close proximity to each other, set an index rate for trillions of dollars of securities with little or no oversight,” said Mark Sunshine, chief executive officer and chairman of Veritas Financial Partners, a Florida-based firm that provides loans to businesses and real estate companies. “That cannot continue. The mechanism itself, the oversight and the penalties if violated, are woefully inadequate.”

Twitter’s Slow Road To IPO (WSJ)
In just six years Twitter Inc. has become the world’s digital soapbox, amassing more than 100 million monthly users—from everyday people to Lady Gaga to Middle East protesters—who use the service to spread pithy updates and breaking news. Yet despite the service’s growing influence on society and culture, the business behind it still has a ways to go until it’s ready for an initial public offering. To understand why, travel to Cincinnati, where last June Twitter planted a staffer blocks from Procter & Gamble Co.’s headquarters and assigned him a critical task: Teach the country’s biggest advertiser to use Twitter and buy its ads. But when P&G spent $150 million to promote the launch last month of a Tide laundry detergent, the company bought magazine pages, billboard spots and television commercials during the Academy Awards—and no Twitter ads. “All [P&G] brands are asking questions about what to do with Twitter and how to leverage it; nobody really had a clear, lean answer,” said the staffer, J.B. Kropp.

US Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuit On AIG Takeover (Reuters)
In November, Hank Greenberg’s company, Starr International Co, sued the U.S. government for $25 billion, calling the 2008 federal takeover of the insurer unconstitutional. Starr sued the government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., which handles lawsuits seeking money from the government. It brought that lawsuit on behalf of itself and other AIG shareholders…In a filing with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the government said although Starr may disagree with the terms to which AIG agreed, any loss resulting from that agreement should be borne by AIG and its shareholders, and not the public.

Obama Back On Wall Street (Politico Morning Money)
Obama raised just north of $5 million for his re-election campaign and the DNC at four events in NYC last night including a swank dinner ($35,800 per person, $71,600 per couple) at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen on East 18th Street. The dinner, the first Wall Street-heavy event since Obama doubled down on his proposed bank tax, was hosted by a handful of the President’s stalwart industry supporters including Robert Wolf, Blair Effron, Mark Gallogly, Marc Lasry and Orin Kramer.

Sex Work Among Medical Students On the Rise? (ABC)
Sex work among medical students is on the rise, claims a new editorial, published in the journal Student BMJ. The UK-based publication noted that students are likely seeking extreme measures to deal with their financial hardship. One in 10 students knows of another who participated in prostitution to pay their medical student loans, according to the editorial. “Mounting evidence suggests that more university students are engaging in prostitution as a means to pay increasing tuition fees, growing debts, and high living costs,” Jodi Dixon, the author of the editorial, wrote. “With escalating debts, students in the United Kingdom may view prostitution as an easy way to get rich quick.”

Greek Swaps Headed Back to ISDA Committee (Bloomberg)
Holders of credit-default swaps on Greek bonds shouldn’t tear up their contracts after yesterday’s ruling against a payout. The International Swaps & Derivatives Association said the swaps hadn’t been triggered by the European Central Bank’s exchange of Greek bonds for new securities exempt from losses taken by private investors. The group will now probably be asked to determine whether collective action clauses, or CACS, being used by Greece to impel investors to participate in a wider exchange of bonds that would trigger the swaps.

Madoff moneyman Merkin near $400M AG deal (NYP)
After a bitter three-year legal battle, Ezra Merkin, the Manhattan moneyman who funneled more than $2 billion to convicted Ponzi king Bernie Madoff, is nearing a settlement with the New York attorney general that could have him shell out as much as $400 million. Sources said the settlement with AG Eric Schneiderman would recover the bulk of the $470 million in fees the notorious middleman pocketed from investing his clients’ cash with Madoff.

Game Changer For Zynga: No Facebook (WSJ)
The San Francisco-based company, whose offerings have long been associated with Facebook as well as apps for mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone, said a “beta,” or prerelease version of what it calls the Zynga Platform, will initially allow customers to play five of its popular titles—”CityVille,” “Hidden Chronicles,” “Zynga Poker,” “CastleVille” and “Words With Friends”—from its website. Zynga said more of its games will become available on the website over time.

Cops Ticket Woman For Resting Injured Leg On Seat In Deserted Subway Train (Gothamist)
Brooklyn resident Kate Wilson was riding the D train home to Sunset Park around 1 a.m. one morning in February when several police officers entered her subway car at 36th street. The subway car was mostly empty, with plenty of empty seats, and Wilson was resting her right leg—which she had injured in a race that day—on a corner of one seat. What followed was an absurd yet all too familiar encounter with overzealous, quota-filling transit cops and ended with a $50 summons.

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53 Responses to “Opening Bell: 03.02.11”

  1. Whoops says:

    Clear evidence that we need a socialized healthcare system like the NHS in America.

    -E. Spitzer

  2. Beavis says:

    “Mounting evidence suggests that more university students are engaging in prostitution…"


  3. lucas says:

    Ah, the old "student loans made me turn to prostitution" canard. In America, we have student debt loads that dwarf the puny interest-free amounts Brits have to take on and you don't see us sucking dick on street corners for the next payment. That's what gentlemen's clubs are for. But seriously, if British medical students have such fragile moral fiber, that country is in deeper shit than I thought and student loans have nothing to do with it.

  4. lucas says:

    Sounds like the problem is admissions standards, not student loans. Do we want doctors who sell their body for cash to have easy access to drugs and organs?

  5. guestosaurus says:

    "The woman pretends she's enjoying the man's company, and the man pretends she loves him for himself, not his money". One less thing to worry about.

    UBS MD

  6. Guest says:

    I'm really sick of hearing Obama crow about he "got" Bin Laden at his fundraisers/campaign speeches. The truth is he was killed due to information gathered under a system set-up under *gasp* George Bush. BHO may have given the order but does anyone believe he would ever have done what was necessary to build the military and intelligence system needed to capture OBL in the first place? He doesn't have the guts (political and otherwise).

    This guy is like the rooster who takes credit for the sun coming up.

  7. Guest says:

    Nothing's wrong with working your way thru college years. Especially, since they are in medical field. Empathy for the patient/customer, and not being squeamish with someone else's body are qualities that needed in both occupations and will serve them well in the future. Better be good sex provider then lousy waitress.

    – Guy who likes to get head from interns.

  8. in the 1% says:

    My wife too looks up occasionally from the news paper, bewildered – as she hears Tim G talk about yet another Obamasoaking – and wonders, why is this tax cheat still aruond and asking us to pay higher taxes?

  9. BrotherLehman says:

    I knew something was up when she gave me her price list.

    Hand Job: $20
    Blow Job: $50
    Around-the-World: $200
    Around-the-world plus penicillin and follow up at clinic: $300

    One more reason university is free in France.


  10. Movie Buff says:

    I'd pay handsomely for that 'milking the prostate' thing…

    – Guy who saw Road Trip

  11. Abe_Froman_ says:

    This really deserves a giving head to get ahead tag

  12. Fan of old jokes says:

    Gives new meaning to Head Nurse..

  13. C. Gasparino says:

    I paid for journalism school by giving moustache rides.

  14. guestosaurus says:

    anyone paying their way through kindergarten? my back feels a little tense…

    J Epstein

  15. Aghuest says:

    Please Geithner, forgoe the romantic imagery of the wifey fielding panic phone calls in 2008 from pals jamie and vik and sharing a laugh when Lloyd called sounding as though he's just sh!t his pants.. We all know that the wife clearly remember the panic of 2008 by the fact that you had to lower the price of your Westchester East home 3 times before eventually taking it off the market due to no interest.

  16. guest says:

    "Amnesia is what causes financial crises. These reforms are worth fighting to preserve."

    Investigation and prosecution are better at preventing amnesia in my humble opinion.

  17. Timmy "titty twist" Geithner says:

    med students need a bailout? come to papa!