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.

36 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (36)

  1. Posted by BrotherLehman | March 30, 2012 at 9:50 AM

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

    There, but for the grace of God…

    –Dennis K.

  2. Posted by Cut Me | March 30, 2012 at 9:59 AM

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

  3. Posted by pazzo83 | March 30, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    "How the fuck do I get off this rock??"

  4. Posted by Cut Me | March 30, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    "Where's my car?"

  5. Posted by Michael | March 30, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    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.

  6. Posted by RBS Party Quant | March 30, 2012 at 10:19 AM

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

  7. Posted by lightenupfrancis | March 30, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    that make one of you

  8. Posted by Guest | March 30, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    "I just made $3.9 Billion, and I'll stand wherever I damn well please."

  9. Posted by Suicide Hotline | March 30, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    Kill yourself.

  10. Posted by pazzo83 | March 30, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    "I can do that elsewhere if I want"

    Please do.

  11. Posted by Loaves-n-Fishes | March 30, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Apparently he just walks across the water.

  12. Posted by Guest | March 30, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    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!

  13. Posted by VonSloneker | March 30, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    FFS please don't autoload the TurboTax video chick…

  14. Posted by Lay & Skilling | March 30, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    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.

  15. Posted by Michael | March 30, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    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.

  16. Posted by guest | March 30, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    ip address located in bridgewater…interesting

  17. Posted by Friday Audit | March 30, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    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.

  18. Posted by actual old-timer | March 30, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    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.

  19. Posted by Shirley | March 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    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.

  20. Posted by The seer | March 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I see what you've done here…

  21. Posted by Dumb list | March 30, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Griffin had another great year. Earning back the money previously lost.

  22. Posted by Writing Genius | March 30, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Buffett trumps Dalio.

    -Clever Guy Who Managed to Get 3 Billionaires Names in One Sentence

  23. Posted by Ted Striker | March 30, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Surely you can't be serious?

  24. Posted by The Dog | March 30, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    I took one look at that bitch and ran.

  25. Posted by trojan_ | March 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Michael Scott?

  26. Posted by Texashedge | March 30, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    I can't wait to see what happens when the Dothrac–I mean–GET OFF THIS SITE YOU FUCKING NERD!!!

  27. Posted by trojan_ | March 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    When asked about their sex life, Brian was quoted as saying: "Oh, yeah. We just do it me style."

  28. Posted by S. Something Else | March 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    Don't call me Shirley.

  29. Posted by ouch. | March 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    Ruff justice.

  30. Posted by Smith Street MENSA | March 30, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    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.

  31. Posted by Casual Commenter | March 30, 2012 at 12:29 PM

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

  32. Posted by E. Texas Gas Trader | March 30, 2012 at 12:33 PM

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

  33. Posted by C-Suite Psycho | March 30, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    I've changed that policy unless you're a producer, they are not held.

  34. Posted by Anonymous | March 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    .

  35. Posted by Fast Andy | March 30, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    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

  36. Posted by Clever.. | March 30, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    you don't date much uh ?