Opening Bell: 03.05.12

Greek Bond Swap Deal Rests on Knife Edge (FT)
People close to some bondholders warned other investors to take seriously threats by policymakers that if the deal fails Greece will default on its debt. “Some investors seem to think they will be rescued. That just isn’t the case,” one said. People involved in the deal denied that there was any nervousness about the outcome but nobody was willing to guess how high the participation rate would be.

AIG to Sell $6 Billion In Asian Insurer’s Stock (WSJ)
American International Group Inc. kicked off a $6 billion sale of shares in Asian life insurer AIA Group Ltd. on Monday morning in Hong Kong, moving forward with plans to repay another chunk of its 2008 U.S. bailout. AIG said the shares will be placed with institutional investors and expects them to be priced by Tuesday. The 1.7 billion shares up for sale represent around 14% of AIA, less than half the 32.9% stake AIG holds, according to a term sheet. Proceeds from this week’s sale have been earmarked to repay the U.S. government, which rescued AIG from near collapse during the financial crisis with a record $182.3 billion bailout that has been partially repaid. The Treasury Department still has to recoup about $50 billion in taxpayer funds, and about $8.4 billion of that amount will be repaid when AIG sells the AIA shares and other assets, including its airplane-leasing subsidiary. The rest of the money—roughly $42 billion—is supposed to come from the government’s sale of its 77% stake in AIG.

Slim Beats Gates in First Daily Billionaire Ranking (Bloomberg)
If you like obsessively measuring your penis you’ll love this: Carlos Slim, the telecommunications tycoon who controls Mexico’s America Movil SAB, is the richest person on Earth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 20 wealthiest individuals…The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. The valuations are listed in U.S. dollars.

Zuckerberg Doesn’t Rank on Billionaire Index (Bloomberg)
Sad trombone: At the time of the offering, Zuckerberg is likely to sell about $1.75 billion of Facebook stock to pay off the tax obligation he will incur when he exercises options to buy 120 million shares. The combined transactions will dilute Zuckerberg’s stake from 28.4 percent to about 21 percent. If the company maintains its projected $100 billion valuation, that would make Zuckerberg worth about $21 billion, less than the $28.4 billion implied by his stated ownership. At that net worth, Zuckerberg isn’t rich enough to qualify for the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a new daily ranking of the world’s 20 richest people. The 20th spot is currently occupied by L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Lenders Stress Over Test Results (WSJ)
The 19 biggest U.S. banks in January submitted reams of data in response to regulators’ questions, outlining how they would perform in a severe downturn. Now, citing competitive concerns, bankers are pressing the Fed to limit its release of information—expected as early as next week—to what was published after the first test of big banks in 2009.

JFK Airport search of drug mule who said she was three months pregnant reveals she carried $20,000 worth of heroin (NYDN)
Awoyemi, coming off an Air France flight from Paris to New York and wearing a “loose-fitting dress” was asked whether she was pregnant, and the woman replied that she was three months along, Homeland Security special agent John Moloney stated in a complaint filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. The customs inspector noted that Awoyemi appeared nervous, so she was selected for a pat-down search. After feeling a “bulge” in Awoyemi’s groin area, the situation escalated to a partial strip-search, according to the complaint. When she dropped her drawers, Awoyemi’s scheme fell apart. Pellets containing brown powder began dropping from her groin area — and the substance tested positive for heroin. Awoyemi was taken to a medical facility at the airport, where the federal cops administered a pregnancy test that came back negative. An X-ray showed more pellets in her intestinal tract, and by the end of the day she had passed about 25 pellets of heroin in a special commode that Customs officials have dubbed the “Drug Loo.” The high-tech toilet sanitizes the incriminating evidence.

More On The Morgan Stanley Executive Charged in Cab Hate Crime Attack (Bloomberg)
Jennings left a bank holiday party sometime before 11 p.m. and headed to the street, where he was supposed to be met by a car service, Jennings said. He hailed Ammar’s cab after the livery car didn’t appear, according to the report. Ammar said Jennings agreed on the fare and told him he would pay cash. Jennings fell asleep during the trip, the driver said. Once at the destination, though, Jennings said “he did not feel like paying” because he was already home, Ammar told police…When Ammar threatened to call the local police, Jennings said they wouldn’t do anything to help because he pays $10,000 in taxes, according to a report by the Darien police department…The Morgan Stanley executive told police he was afraid to come forward after the incident because the cab driver knew where he lived. He then went on vacation to Florida, police said. Jennings told officers he subsequently called his lawyer after a friend told him police were looking for a suspect in the stabbing incident, according to the report.

JPMorgan Star To Launch Own Hedge Fund (FT)
London-based Mike Stewart, JPMorgan’s global head of proprietary trading, and former head of emerging markets, is set to start his own new hedge fund, Whard Stewart, in the second quarter, people familiar with his plans said. Mr Stewart’s emerging markets trading team at the bank is expected to join him. The departures come despite word last week that US regulators will probably delay implementation of the so-called “Volcker rule” , under which banks are in effect banned from proprietary trading.

Friends With Benefits (NYP)
Unlike his fallen pal Raj Rajaratnam, former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta appears to have no shortage of character witnesses willing to testify at his upcoming insider trading trial. Indeed, dozens of well-heeled supporters are already putting their names on the line for the former consulting titan, including world-renowned speaker Deepak Chopra and Mukesh Ambani, the ninth-richest man in the world. “I have never seen him ask for anything for himself, always for the greater good,” Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, said recently on a little-noticed website called friendsofrajat.com.

Cigarettes: The Most Stable International Currency (BusinessWeek)
Cartons of Good Cat brand cigarettes are selling for as much as RMB5,600 (US$890) per carton in the city of Xi’an, in Shaanxi Province. The suspicion, according to reports this week, is that they are being used to bribe officials.

Election Year Poses Challenge For Stocks (WSJ)
The Dow is off to its best start to a year since 1998. But if history is a guide, this exuberance soon could give way to the first pangs of electoral anxiety. In a typical presidential-election year, stocks start well but slip into a funk by spring, according to Ned Davis Research, which has measured election-year trends back to 1900. At least in part, the slump reflects the electoral unknowns, Ned Davis has concluded. In a good year, investors deal with their jitters by late summer or early autumn and stocks recover. People get more comfortable with the November election outlook and put money back into stocks. This year, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 6.2% in just over two months, many investors and analysts expect a pullback soon. The looming election adds to ambient uncertainty about European debt and U.S. and Chinese growth prospects. Tony Welch, an analyst at Ned Davis Research, says the Dow could pull back 5% or 6% in the coming weeks. “We think the election-year trend could be strong this year,” Mr. Welch says. “The market prefers certainty. It doesn’t like unknowns.”

Ochocinco was urinated on by a lion and lived to tweet the tale (YS)
The New England Patriots receiver was at a charity event in Miami on Saturday night when he ran into the caged animal. According to Ochocinco’s Twitter account, the king of the jungle proceeded to become the urine sprayer at the party. Tweets included: “Swear to lil 10 pound bearded baby Jesus I just got peed on by a real “Lion” I’m not lying either. And y’all wonder why I don’t go out!!!!!,” “It’s not funny i have on my good church clothes,” and “I wasn’t that close, he sprayed like a water gun.”

24 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (24)

  1. Posted by AIG Quant via LEH | March 5, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Fats domino

  2. Posted by Cut Me | March 5, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    “Jennings said he didn’t know what to do — he just wanted the whole thing to go away,”

    Jennings, call me.

    -OJ

  3. Posted by Guest | March 5, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    “We think the election-year trend could be strong this year,” Mr. Welch says. “The market prefers certainty. It doesn’t like unknowns.”

    Don't think its so much the uncertainty of which of these 'leaders' we'll get, as it is that we will get one.

  4. Posted by What Money? | March 5, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    About that cabbie/banker story: We think people who don't pay what they owe should be arrested on the spot!

    -MF Global Cash Management

  5. Posted by The Joke Starter | March 5, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Late one night, William Jennings Bryan gets into a cab driven by Vince McCrudden…..

  6. Posted by guestosaurus | March 5, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    and if you don't want to write on my website, you can also friend me on facebook, or post on my wall or poke me in support

    R. Gupta

  7. Posted by pazzo83 | March 5, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Haters wanna hate, lovers wanna love. I don't even want none of the above I want to pee on you. Yes I do, I'll piss on you, I'll pee on you.

    – Lion

  8. Posted by guestosaurus | March 5, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Who says elections need to involve uncertainty?

    V. Putin

  9. Posted by Slim Tomatillo | March 5, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Are you going to finish that?

  10. Posted by guestosaurus | March 5, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    thats hot, call me.

    K. Kadarshian

  11. Posted by El Guesto | March 5, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    So the new axis of Evil,

    Kim Jong Eun, Carlos Slim and Howard Buffet.

  12. Posted by Guest | March 5, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Bitch.

    – Paris Hilton

  13. Posted by Guest | March 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Who swerves onto the sidewalk and runs over The Joke Starter…

  14. Posted by guestosaurus | March 5, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    Don't call me a bitch, slut.

    K. Kadarshian

  15. Posted by trojan_ | March 5, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    The Lion, the Piss, on My Wardrobe – by CJ Ochocinco

  16. Posted by Hey! | March 5, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Looks like the MF Global people and the twits at MS are all reading dealbreaker this morning!

  17. Posted by Texashedge | March 5, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Well, that's how Calvin Johnson shows contempt for his inferiors.

  18. Posted by Guest | March 5, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Who says elections can't be postponed?

    E. Venizelos

  19. Posted by RoughingThePisser | March 5, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    So how much does Ndamukong Suh get fined this time?

  20. Posted by guestie | March 5, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    "Greek Bond Swap Deal Rests on Knife Edge"

    <perk>

    William Cullen Jennings Kobe Bryant

  21. Posted by lucas | March 5, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    He also said he only pays $10,000 in taxes. He's on Obama and Buffett's shitlist now!

  22. Posted by Guest | March 5, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    I didn't realize that paying $10,000 in taxes gets you a free cab ride to the tri-state area. Was this a perk they threw in with the payroll tax extension?

  23. Posted by NYT Style Editor | March 5, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Shouldn't shit list be two words instead of one?

  24. Posted by Darien Resident | March 6, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    He pays $10k in property taxe, some of which goes to running the Darien PD. BTW I have read that his house is worth $3.7m…in which he ats more than $10k, more likely $25k.