Opening Bell: 03.19.12

US Made Profit On Mortgage Debt (WSJ)
In the latest sign of the government’s gradual retreat from financial-crisis-related programs, the Treasury Department is expected to announce Monday that taxpayers reaped a $25 billion profit on mortgage bonds purchased at the height of the meltdown.

Goldman Sachs Board Must Act on Smith Op-Ed, Ex-Partner Writes (Bloomberg)
Goldman Sachs directors must investigate a former employee’s allegations about a change in the firm’s culture, Jacki Zehner, who was a partner when she left the firm in 2002, wrote on her blog. “These are very serious accusations from a credible person in my view and I hope it does indeed provide a ‘wake-up’ call to the board of directors,” wrote Zehner, who was the first female trader promoted to partner and is married to a former partner. She is now CEO and president of Women Moving Millions, a non- profit supporting the advancement of women and girls worldwide. “It is the board that is accountable to shareholders and before they take another paycheck I hope they ask a heck of a lot of questions and get honest answers,” Zehner, 47, wrote in her March 16 commentary…Janet Tiebout Hanson, who left Goldman Sachs after almost 14 years in 1993 and in 1997 founded the women’s networking firm 85 Broads, wrote her own blog response to Smith’s op-ed piece, calling it a “cowardly act.” “By tossing a verbal hand grenade on his way out the door, he sullied the reputations of the vast majority of the people at the firm who work and live by the highest possible professional standards every single day,” wrote Hanson, who was the first woman at Goldman Sachs to be promoted into sales management. “He is just a quitter who never gave management an opportunity to respond before he verbally strafed the entire firm in print.”

Is it Magic Johnson vs. Steve Cohen for Dodgers? (CBS)
Cohen’s appeal? Cash, mostly. Although Johnson is believed to have the highest total offer on the table (a rumored $1.6 billion), Cohen’s bid has more cold, hard, redeemable U.S. currency involved ($900 million, to be precise). That may appeal to McCourt, who’s facing a pricey divorce settlement with little more than exposed pocket linings and the Dodger Stadium parking lots to his sullied name. Additionally, as CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman has reported, Cohen may have additional credibility in the eyes of MLB because of his willingness to bring on board seasoned baseball men like Tony La Russa and former deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg.

Lagarde Says World Can’t Be Lulled Into Sense of Security (Bloomberg)
nternational Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde urged policy makers to be vigilant as oil prices, debt levels, and the risk of slowing growth in emerging markets threaten global economic stability. “Optimism should not give us a sense of comfort or lull us into a false sense of security,” Lagarde said today at a speech in Beijing at the China Development Forum. “We cannot go back to business as usual.”

Gupta’s Lawyer Says ‘Wrong Man’ on Trial in Insider Case (Bloomberg)
Gupta’s lawyer, Gary Naftalis, said that Rajaratnam had a different Goldman Sachs tipper, who gave him confidential information about Intel Corp. and Apple, the lawyer said. That Goldman source was also caught on government wiretaps passing the inside information, Naftalis said.

Where Was The Bracket Born? (WSJ)
Steven Murray, a Colorado Mesa University professor who has studied the history of sports, said the concept that inspired the bracket—a single-elimination sporting competition with many rounds—isn’t a modern invention. He said the ancient Greeks held wrestling and boxing competitions starting around 700 B.C. where the combatants would draw lots to set pairings. If the tournament pairings were posted in a bracket form, Murray said, they probably would have been painted with pigment on scrolls, placards or walls and wouldn’t have survived…By some accounts, the oldest existing sports bracket lies in the archives of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, which houses memorabilia from the famous tennis tournament. According to the curator, Honor Godfrey, the Lawn Tennis Championship printed a bracket in the program to display the pairings in its inaugural year, 1877. Godfrey said she couldn’t find a copy of that program, but she did unearth a Xeroxed copy of the program from the following year, 1878. That program, issued by the “All England Croquet and Lawn-Tennis Club” announced the “Lawn Tennis Championship Meeting,” which would be contested for a prize of 19 Guineas. Inside, on a full page, is a one-sided bracket with 34 names. To make the pairings add up correctly, a certain E.R. Seymour and a certain H.F. Lawford were awarded byes. To this day, Wimbledon’s program includes a bracket of the tournament field.

Apple to initiate dividend, share buyback (Reuters)
Apple Inc said Monday it will initiate a regular dividend of $2.65 a quarter from July and will buy back up to $10 billion of its own shares starting in fiscal year 2013.

Goldman’s God Problem Goes Away, For Now (Reuters)
For the past two years, a group of religious institutions that hold Goldman shares has asked the investment bank to review executive compensation packages and has been successful in getting its proposal taken up at regular shareholders’ meetings. This year, the group, including the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, again sought to have its proposal voted on by shareholders. But for the first time, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sided with Goldman, which argued it had already complied with the request

Scores Arrested as the Police Clear Zuccotti Park (City Room)
The operation occurred after hundreds of people had gathered in the financial district to observe the founding of Occupy Wall Street six months ago. Earlier, protesters had embarked upon a winding march, after which police officers made initial arrests of about a dozen people near the park…Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.

Cambodia Embracing Capitalism With First IPO Since Khmer Rouge (Bloomberg)
Enthusiasm about the start of trading at the exchange, which opened last July without a single listed company, extends beyond the borders of the Southeast Asian country. Investors including Templeton Emerging Markets Group Chairman Mark Mobius said they plan to participate in Cambodia’s stock market after state-owned Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority has its initial public offering next month. “The potential for investors in Cambodia is excellent,” Mobius, who oversees about $50 billion, wrote in an e-mail. “The listing of publicly traded stocks will drive up interest and demand. If a country can list its state-owned enterprises and list enough stocks so that foreign investors can get involved, then it can be very, very good.”

E! Network Brings Clint Eastwood Clan (WSJ)
Actor and director Clint Eastwood is about to add a credit to his nearly 60-year career: reality-television star. Mr. Eastwood; his wife, Dina; and two of his children, 18-year-old Francesca and 15-year-old Morgan, will appear in “Mrs. Eastwood & Co.,” a reality series that tracks the family in Los Angeles, at their Carmel, Calif., home and beyond. The 10-episode series also will follow Overtone, a South African singing group that Mrs. Eastwood manages. The band appeared on the soundtrack of Mr. Eastwood’s 2009 film “Invictus,” which recounts Nelson Mandela’s attempt to use rugby to help unify post-apartheid South Africa.

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Comments (15)

  1. Posted by Guest | March 19, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    You've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel like selling out?" Well….. do ya…… Chrysler?

  2. Posted by Guest | March 19, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Dear Apple Shareholders,

    Have I got an idea for you. Got a way to create a low frequency cloud for you that'll make you billions. All you have to do is to tell Appl to buy my company, Light^2. I can offer it on the cheap.

    Call me,
    PF

  3. Posted by The Djoker | March 19, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    19 Guineas for winning Wimbledon? I'll take one Monica Bellucci.

    - Novak

  4. Posted by Guest | March 19, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    Reality shows have topped advertising appearances as the best way to trade fame, credibility, and respect for hard cash. Sure, one could make both fame and money by making good movies, but, well, that's just so much more work than showing up for a reality show . . .

    Oh, and if anyone figures out a way to trade hard cash for fame, credibility, and respect, there's a certain Lisa Marie F. of New York, NY who would be interested in the details.

  5. Posted by Turn it off | March 19, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    I'm in the market for a TV. Has anyone heard anything about these new Panasonics?

  6. Posted by Ernie | March 19, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    And another year of my brackets fuckin the big chicken.

  7. Posted by Guest | March 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    We should bring this US Treasury in for an interview.

    - UBS HR

  8. Posted by Baselinebanger | March 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Federer beating that rat-bastard Nadal and then Isner to win a touney > March Madness

  9. Posted by blunty 420 | March 19, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Television always marks the beginning and the end of a career.

  10. Posted by Bernie | March 19, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Dunno about the first brackets, but the largest have to be AOL Time Warner and AIG.

    I tried though.

  11. Posted by Guest | March 19, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    We plan to make a killing in Greece, that's why we prolonged the crisis in August. Shhhh, don't tell them.
    -Germany

  12. Posted by Greg Smith | March 19, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Mandela should've used table tennis to unify post-apartheid South Africa.

  13. Posted by VonSloneker | March 19, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Fuck Fed and especially fuck Isner

    - N. Mahut

  14. Posted by Guest | March 19, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    Honor Godrey?!? You know you'd rather play "tennis" on my lawn.
    -Honor Blackman

  15. Posted by coq10 | April 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Greeting from over the world. Great blog I must return for more.