Opening Bell: 03.22.12

Goldman conducts company-wide email review (Reuters)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has begun scanning internal emails for the term “muppet” and other evidence that employees referred to clients in derogatory ways, Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein told partners in a conference call this week, according to people familiar with the call…It was not clear when the search would be completed or what actions, if any, Goldman would take if the search turns up derogatory comments.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Fall to Lowest Level in Four Years (Bloomberg)
Jobless claims decreased by 5,000 to 348,000 in the week ended March 17, the fewest since February 2008, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 46 economists in a Bloomberg News survey projected 350,000. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls and those getting extended payments also fell.

‘Worst Still to Come’ for Europe Says Citi Economist (CNBC)
Despite high-profile measures such as the Greek debt deal and mass pumping of liquidity into the banking system, Europe’s problems have merely been delayed for another day, Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citi, told CNBC. “We have really just paused for breath,” he said. “It (the long-term refinancing operation) really hasn’t solved the problem, and for Europe the worst is still to come.”

On Wall St., Keeping a Tight Rein on Twitter (Dealbook)
So a cottage industry has emerged. Adept start-ups act as guides on Wall Street’s social media adventure, providing the software that helps firms comply with regulations that date to a sleepier era of communication. “Here they were, these organizations that had never used the social networks because they had completely locked down access,” said Chad Bockius, the chief executive of Socialware, a start-up based in Austin, Tex., that advises financial firms on social media. “This is the same thing we saw when people started to use the Internet for business purposes.” Mr. Bockius, 35, says his company was the first to offer social media compliance products for the financial industry. Socialware sells software that can archive messages, house a library of prewritten content and allow compliance officers to oversee postings. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, which Mr. Bockius holds up as one of his most enterprising clients, gave about 600 of its 17,800 financial advisers access to Twitter and LinkedIn last summer, and now plans to expand those ranks. “We’re trailblazing, so to speak,” said Lauren W. Boyman, who runs social media at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. “Even with the restrictions that we have, we’ve seen a lot of success.”

John Edwards is First Name Uncovered in ‘Millionaire Madam’ Investigation (DNAI via Daily Intel)
Edwards allegedly hooked up with one of Gristina’s high-end hookers in 2007 when the dashing pol from North Carolina brought his then high-flying presidential campaign to the Big Apple.
The one-night fling allegedly took place at an Upper East Side hotel suite and was arranged by an aide with help from a New Yorker familiar with Gristina’s prostitution ring, sources said…“Most of the women don’t have any idea about the identities of the men they sleep with,” a source explained. “How would they know a money man from Wall Street or the face of a lawyer or banker who shows up? “But the face of the national politician?” the source rhetorically asked. “She knew.”

Volcker Says U.S. Needs Reforms in Finance, Government (Bloomberg)
“It is not only our economic prosperity that’s in jeopardy, but our national security and our ability to play a constructive role in a changing world,” said Volcker, 84. Volcker said that progress has been made toward improving financial regulatory oversight, capital and liquidity standards and rules for derivatives. He said more needed to be done to regulate money market mutual funds, which he called “a new systemic risk,” and to rebuild a private market for home mortgages to replace the government-sponsored entities that dominate the business. “The reform report card still reads, ‘Promising but definitely incomplete,’” Volcker said.

BofA’s Orcel Shuns Promotion to Join UBS (WSJ)
In a dramatic executive shuffle involving two banking giants, Bank of America Corp.’s Andrea Orcel plans to leave the big U.S. lender’s European operation to become co-head of UBS AG’s investment-banking unit, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Orcel, president of emerging markets excluding Asia at Bank of America and head of its European credit-card business, is expected to share the title with Carsten Kengeter, who currently runs the UBS unit on his own, the people said.

More Wings, Please — Signs Small Biz Is Improving (AP)
Some diners at Hurricane Grill & Wings had been limiting themselves to a small order of the chain’s saucy chicken wings and a glass of tap water. These days, many of those people are upgrading to a bigger order of as many as 15 wings and a soda. For Hurricane Grill, which sells its wings in more than 30 varieties of sauces, the larger plates and the sodas are a sign that customers are OK about spending a little more when they go out to eat. The evidence may not be a big economic report like gross domestic product or factory orders in a region, but small businesses have their own indicators that the economy is improving.

Rich Would Skirt ‘Buffett Rule’ Report Shows (WSJ)
The administration’s proposal to end the Bush-era tax cuts for couples making more than $250,000 would raise about $850 billion over the next decade. Mr. Obama also wants to limit the value of many deductions for families making more than $250,000. That would raise a further $584 billion over the decade. But millionaires likely would find legal ways to avoid paying higher taxes under another of Mr. Obama’s new tax proposals, his so-called “Buffett Rule,” a separate congressional estimate found. The proposal—spelled out in Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address but not included in his budget—would impose a 30% minimum tax rate on those who make more than $1 million a year. It’s named for the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who advocates higher taxes on the very wealthy. Taxpayers’ likely efforts to sidestep the rule’s impact mean it would raise about $47 billion in extra revenue over the next decade, according to a new estimate by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, a congressional advisory body that functions as the official congressional scorekeeper for legislation affecting government tax revenues. The Tax Policy Center had estimated the Buffett rule would raise about $114 billion over the next decade.

Monster titanoboa snake invades New York (AP)
New York commuters arriving at Grand Central Station will soon be greeted by a monstrous sight: a 48-foot-long, 2,500-pound titanoboa snake. The good news: It’s not alive. Anymore. But the full-scale replica of the reptile — which will make its first appearance at the commuter hub on March 22 — is intended, as Smithsonian spokesperson Randall Kremer happily admitted, to “scare the daylights out of people” — actually has a higher calling: to “communicate science to a lot of people.” The scientifically scary-accurate model will go a long way toward that: If this snake slithered by you, it would be waist-high and measure the length of a school bus. Think of it as the T-rex of snakes.

67 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (67)

  1. Posted by KungFu Grip | March 22, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    Good Morning Bess – There's a photo of a large piece of feces on today's Opening Bell – it looks coincidentaly like John Edwards – sorry to be a pain but any chance of replacing it ?
    Many thanks,
    Guy who hates looking at human filth–

  2. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    A piece of shit banker calling a lawyer a piece of shit. That's funny. No it's not.

  3. Posted by Back Office | March 22, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Let's be honest, Michelle hasn't put out since the last kid. Slick Willy hasn't dipped in Hills since the 70s. And Rush couldn't supply McCain enough blue pills to stamp a slam. It's quite possible Edwards was the only candidate getting laid in 2008. Respect.

  4. Posted by Looter McGavin | March 22, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    I eat pieces of edwards like you for breakfast!

  5. Posted by Mexi_Cant | March 22, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    I just hope they don't scan the emails for the words "I gave you genital warts."

    -R. Kimball

  6. Posted by Guest | March 22, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Slick Willy has never stopped gettin the strange.

  7. Posted by KungFu Grip | March 22, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    If you happened to read a single story over the last several years about how this guy treated his wife and family, you might understand – then again no you wouldn't -GFY

  8. Posted by L. Dykstra | March 22, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Gee, and to think I voted for that guy. That's some shady business right there.

  9. Posted by RexRex | March 22, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Tim Tebow's feet smell like Super Bowl victory!

  10. Posted by Richard X. Bove | March 22, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    or "dick"

  11. Posted by The Truth | March 22, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Gary Cohn is not going to be happy about all the Bunsen Honeydew emails

  12. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    I didn't need your clarification. I know what a scumbag he is. But bankers calling him out on his character flaws is quite hypocritical. Skimming the life savings of Americans is more noble than getting some pussy on the side while your wife dies? O.K., whatever helps you sleep at night.

  13. Posted by Narcissus | March 22, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Leaving BofA for UBS is like leaving the Andrea Doria for the Costa Concordia

  14. Posted by Whoops | March 22, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    "Skimming the life savings of Americans?"

    Let me guess, you saw Inside Job and became "informed."

  15. Posted by Xanex | March 22, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Did you get lost on your way to Huffington Post?

    -Guy who knows what makes him sleep at night

  16. Posted by GUest | March 22, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Screw muppets, who wants to go snipe hunting?

    -Redneck Riviera Quant

  17. Posted by RBS HR | March 22, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    To be fair those new hires could be said to be of titanic importance to the firm. In unrelated news, didn't you think the crew in The Perfect Storm really showed impressive solidarity and camaraderie? Now that's a group I'd be proud to be a member of!

  18. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    "Slick Willy hasn't dipped in Hills since the 70s."

    ummm, really?

  19. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    You're both douchebags. KungFu Grip for getting his panties in a bunch over a fucking picture of an asshole, "guest" for being the type of person who says "bankster," etc.

  20. Posted by Hakuna Matata Guy | March 22, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Classic, always love 'guest" calling out "guest" for being "guest".

  21. Posted by NowOnePerson | March 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    I fucking love Wedding Crashers?

    -Guy trying to figure out whether that applies here and if it's actually funny

  22. Posted by 760 GMAT; 3.6 GPA | March 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    +1

  23. Posted by Gold digger | March 22, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    guest on guest violence. word.

  24. Posted by Ich bin ein Hakuna | March 22, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    That's not from Wedding Crashers. It's from Big Daddy.

  25. Posted by Cut Me | March 22, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    John Edwards is a total asshole for cheating on his sick wife.

    -Newt Gingrich

  26. Posted by Guest | March 22, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Hey guys ;-)

  27. Posted by Back Office | March 22, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Chelsea was conceived in 1979. So, yes, really.

  28. Posted by Kermit | March 22, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    You haven't lived until you've been with a pig.

    PS Your wife doesn't count Hankuna bitch

  29. Posted by Guest | March 22, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Maybe the guy just wanted to get a little strange and not have to worry about being caught on camera for once. Can he not be cut some slack?

  30. Posted by Texashedge | March 22, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Exactly. The legendary Pat Sajak scene.

  31. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    No, I didn't get lost on my way to HuffPo, I got lost on my way to ping pong practice.

  32. Posted by Texashedge | March 22, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    You can at least wrangle a nice, rent-controlled apartment out of the Andrea Doria

  33. Posted by HeadSlap | March 22, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Wait – so if you pass a new tax law, those affected will pay accountants to find legal ways to structure their affairs so as to minimize their tax burden, while remaining in compliance with the law?

    Oh, that's not what they said – they said people would "skirt" the new law. Right, I forgot that legally protecting your own money was a bad thing.

  34. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    So original. Have you considered becoming a sitcom writer? You have tons of talent, man.

  35. Posted by John Mack | March 22, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    Thanks for that Rex. Mr Ryan and I would also like to announce the formation of The Aliped Fund.

  36. Posted by Greg Smith | March 22, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    It's called table tennis, if you're going to impersonate me at least do it right, what are you? The guy who thought his resignation letter from Piper Jaffray would make the NYT op-eds?

  37. Posted by Guessed | March 22, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    I prefer to greet the commuters with 2 inches of dangling fury.

  38. Posted by Skittles | March 22, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Chelsea was not conceived, she was erected out of the muck like an orc.

  39. Posted by Minimum Wage | March 22, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    We pay our employees so to protect them from paying excessive taxes.

    -UBS HR

  40. Posted by Halloween | March 22, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    I don't think they sell mongoloid costumes greg.

  41. Posted by guesthouse | March 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    right, but chelsea was obviously the product of artificial insemination

  42. Posted by Ich bin ein Hakuna | March 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    It was Drew Carey, you fucking dolt.

  43. Posted by NEED AIR | March 22, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    It's very stuffy in here.

    -Amanda Drury's Left Breast

  44. Posted by Bess Stalker 1 | March 22, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    You must be new here.

  45. Posted by Happy Madison | March 22, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Listen retards – it was Happy Gilmore and Shooter McGavin said the line, "I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast" to Happy (Adam Sandler). Bob Barker was also in the movie but in a completely different scene.

    – Guy you hates when retards misquote quality movies

  46. Posted by john | March 22, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    There is no entry in Wikipedia for Bankster. I think that we should write one.

  47. Posted by Ich bin ein Hakuna | March 22, 2012 at 11:39 AM
  48. Posted by NowOnePerson | March 22, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Thaaaat's right. I love that movie! When Will Ferrel's got the dart in his neck? So Awesome! When Stifler says "Dude, you got a dart in your neck"… So! Great!

  49. Posted by RBS IMDB BSD | March 22, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    You idiot, it wasn't a dart, it was a trident that Steve Carell threw.

  50. Posted by Guest | March 22, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    FIFTEEN wings? Maybe one day.

    -UBS/RBS MD

  51. Posted by UBS intern | March 22, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    So numbers are out for third years ?

  52. Posted by NowOnePerson | March 22, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    erected… hehe…

    ….hehe….

    -8 year old version of myself

  53. Posted by Matt | March 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I'll make the charts!

  54. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Whoops, I have no idea what you're talking about. But why don't you try creating something instead of shuffling money around and collecting a nut.

  55. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Some definitions to start?

    quankster — quant bankster
    rankster – retail bankster
    impoverished – ubs bankster

  56. Posted by VandelayCapital | March 22, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Edwards/Spitzer 2012: No Skank Left Behind

    Dennis Hoff, Campaign Manager

  57. Posted by Guest | March 22, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Not according to GS Research, which is infallible.

  58. Posted by Emily Post | March 22, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I am afraid the "guest" posters today are not really aware of what the word guest means. They are displaying no manners whatsoever!

  59. Posted by Abe_Froman_ | March 22, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Get these mutha fuckin' snakes off my mutha fuckin' train

  60. Posted by guest | March 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Please…my reputation is already tarnished. What more do you want from me?

    -Johnny 'Three-timing' Edwards

    Former Candidate for President and Vice President nominee

  61. Posted by nachocheese | March 22, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Elliott? That you Elliott? you there 'bro????

  62. Posted by jay P | March 22, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    <img src=http://www.insurancelowrate.com/products/images/7.LoL.jpg>Heh heh, what a bunch of Muppets. If they destroy these they could be making their lives worse legally. Where’s that Carl Levin guy? Maybe he can help with the search.<img src=http://www.insurancelowrate.com/products/images/6.LoL.jpg>

  63. Posted by Whoops | March 22, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    "Whoops, I have no idea what you're talking about."

    Glad my username could better illuminate the conversation.

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