Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 03.30.12

Three Major Banks Prepare for Possible Credit Downgrades (NYT)
Moody’s Investors Service has said it will decide in mid-May whether to lower its ratings for 17 global financial companies. Morgan Stanley, which was hit hard in the financial crisis, appears to be the most vulnerable. Moody’s is threatening to cut the bank’s ratings by three notches, to a level that would be well below the rating of a rival like JPMorgan Chase.

Eurozone Lifts Firewall (WSJ)
Euro-zone finance ministers on Friday agreed on a temporary boost of the bloc’s bailout lending limit to €700 billion ($931 billion), opting for a less ambitious plan that some fear won’t be enough to prevent a re-awakening of euro zone financial turmoil.

Dalio Earns $3.9bn to Top Hedge Fund Pay List (FT)
Ray Dalio, head of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, personally made $3.9 billion in a year that his $70 billion Pure Alpha fund produced $13.8 billion of investment profits for its investors, according to industry rankings. He tops a list published Friday by Absolute Return magazine of the richest 25 hedge fund managers. The select group took home $14.4 billion in pay and paper profits on their own investments last year, down from $22 billion in 2010 in a sign of the industry’s struggle to deliver returns for its clients in 2011.

Goldman Bets on Property Rebound With New Fund: Mortgages (Bloomberg)
The U.S. Housing Recovery Fund is expected to finish its first round of capital raising and open April 1, according to a marketing document obtained by Bloomberg News. It will focus on senior-ranked securities without government backing, many of which now carry junk credit grades.

BATS Weighs Cooling Its Listing Push (WSJ)
BATS Global Markets Inc. is considering suspending its efforts to recruit corporate listings after a software glitch last Friday derailed the exchange operator’s IPO, people familiar with the matter said. Concerns about BATS’s bungled initial public offering could disrupt its efforts to draw other companies to list their stocks on its electronic exchange, forestalling ambitions by the electronic-markets operator to become a full-service exchange company. Such a move could entail notifying the Securities and Exchange Commission, which last year approved BATS’s plan to list shares and exchange-traded products.

Canada Eliminates Penny Costing Penny-and-a-Half to Make (Bloomberg)
Canada will withdraw the penny from circulation this year, saving taxpayers about C$11 million ($11 million) annually and forcing retailers to round prices to the nearest nickel, the government announced in its budget today.

Grand Central nabs tell-all by ex-Goldman exec Smith (NYP)
Greg Smith, the former Goldman Sachs executive who became an instant sensation when he ripped the Wall Street investment bank with a resignation letter published as an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, has scored a $1.5 million advance to write a memoir of his experiences.

Oil Rally Fails to Lift Commodity Hedge Funds’ Returns (FT)
Many multibillion managers have been wary of potential political shocks in the Middle East and a repeat of last year’s May oil sell-off. They have shunned risk over the past three months or lost out by betting that oil markets would become more choppy. Many of the sector’s leading names have underperformed broader hedge fund peers, which have enjoyed one of their best quarters on the back of rising global equity markets.

Billions Lost In Tax Refund Scam (WSJ)
The perpetrators of the scheme, authorities say, swipe the Social Security numbers of Puerto Rican citizens, who don’t have to pay federal income tax—and are less likely to be on the IRS radar—and use their information to file fake returns. In some cases, they enlist U.S. mail carriers to intercept the refund checks that are disbursed. The plot, which includes participants from around the U.S. and Latin America, has been around for at least five years. Prosecutors have obtained multiple convictions but none involving those believed to be among the top players in the operation, according to several people briefed on investigations into the fraud.

BlackBerry Maker In Turmoil (WSJ)
The overhaul comes just two months after Thorsten Heins took the reins at RIM and confidently proclaimed there was no need for “seismic” change. But with the company’s sales tumbling 25% in the latest quarter, new BlackBerrys piling up unsold and a crucial lineup of new devices still not expected to arrive until later this year, Mr. Heins is taking more drastic actions. RIM will back out of its high-profile attempt to win business among consumers to focus on its core corporate customers.

Queen Creek couple accused in dog-sex plan plead not guilty (AZC)
A Queen Creek couple have pleaded not guilty to charges of planning to have sex with a dog. The case prompted Sheriff Joe Arpaio to ask the website Craigslist to better monitor its personal ads. Shane Walker, 33, and his wife Sarah Walker, 39, posted a Craigslist ad on Feb. 7 titled, “Wife looking for K9,” according to Maricopa County Superior Court records.

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36 Responses to “Opening Bell: 03.30.12”

  1. BrotherLehman says:

    Re: Queen Creek couple accused in dog-sex plan plead not guilty:

    There, but for the grace of God…

    –Dennis K.

  2. Cut Me says:

    Photo Caption: I swear, the dog was hung like this!

  3. Michael says:

    The case prompted Sheriff Joe Arpaio to ask the website Craigslist to better monitor its personal ads.

    In same vein, we ask Dealbreaker to better monitor its Breaking News as well. I don't want to read random non finance news here. I can do that elsewhere if I want.

    • RBS Party Quant says:

      I bet you're a ton of fun at parties Dennis, er, I mean Michael.

    • lightenupfrancis says:

      that make one of you

    • Suicide Hotline says:

      Kill yourself.

    • pazzo83 says:

      "I can do that elsewhere if I want"

      Please do.

      • Michael says:

        I am sure DB can handle constructive criticism from its readers. By the way I have seen the quality of your contribution on this website. There is a reason why old DB readers do write things here. coz we all cherish Bess and this website.

        • actual old-timer says:

          If you were actually an "old DB reader" you'd know that the site has always included things that are non-finance related. other than that I have no concerns. oh, except for you to go fuck yourself.

        • Shirley says:

          Fair enough, but I'm still failing to see the non-financial news item above. Surely you can't be suggesting that the burgeoning field of bestiality banking isn't financially related.

        • The seer says:

          I see what you've done here…

    • Guest says:

      Michael, I was able to bypass the "random" stuff myself by getting a Dealbreaker "Gold Pass" for just a little bit per month. It's well worth it because not only do you get to choose not to get the random non-financial stuff but you can block certain commenters you may not agree with from time to time. For example, I just blocked "E. Texas Gas Trader" because I think he/she sullies the natural gas trading and marketing profession. Despite my love for the site I won't stand for that. So, order your "Gold Pass" asap!

      • Lay & Skilling says:

        Indeed, sullying the pristine reputation of the noble profession of energy trading is something we all can agree must be vigorously defended against.

        -Ken Lay, Jeffrey "I'm fucking smart" Skilling, et al.

        • Smith Street MENSA says:

          I remember Andy Fastow on video talking about how he could price anything and out-price anyone.

          I'm guessing Andy is out of jail now. My how time flies.

          • Fast Andy says:

            Actually they just picked me up on a little job I was running on some ricans and the feds..

            Doing a samll stint in butner here

      • E. Texas Gas Trader says:

        My daddy always tole me natural gas professionals feed on rejection. I'm a bettin the sun'll come up in Tyler tomorrow.

    • trojan_ says:

      Michael Scott?

  4. VonSloneker says:

    FFS please don't autoload the TurboTax video chick…

  5. Friday Audit says:

    For those touting the merits of Greg Smith, and his illustrious $1.5 million book deal, Ray Dalio has a message for you…….

    3 hours, 22 minutes, 15 seconds

    Also, Game of Thrones, Sunday, get pumped.

  6. Casual Commenter says:

    It's "Casual Friday" so I will be commenting casually from time to time today.