• 05 Apr 2012 at 9:30 AM

Opening Bell: 04.05.12

Falcone Says Bankruptcy Is an Option for LightSquared (Bloomberg)
Phil Falcone said he may consider voluntary bankruptcy for LightSquared Inc., the broadband wireless venture majority owned by his hedge fund that has been derailed by regulators. “There are arguments that we would be better off in bankruptcy than not,” Falcone said in an interview. “LightSquared, if I have to, I’ll put it into bankruptcy. I don’t care,” adding that he would maintain control of the Reston, Virginia-based company if it filed.

Jobless Claims Decline (WSJ)
New applications for jobless benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly four years last week, further evidence that U.S. employers likely added a healthy number of workers to their payrolls in March. Initial jobless claims decreased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000 in the week ended March 31, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires predicted that 360,000 new claims would be filed last week.

Morgan Stanley Tries to Stave Off Ratings Cut (FT)
James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, has been in discussions with Moody’s in an attempt to maintain its credit ratings and stave off a downgrade that could diminish the bank’s ability to buy the rest of Citigroup brokerage Smith Barney, according to people familiar with the matter…Morgan Stanley would most likely have to issue debt to fund the purchase, people say. That would become more expensive if Morgan Stanley is downgraded. Moody’s put Morgan Stanley, along with five other banks, on review for a downgrade in February. The bank could see its rating reduced by as many as three notches to Baa2 – two levels above junk status. A downgrade would also force Morgan Stanley to provide additional collateral to back its vast derivatives business, where it acts as a counterparty.

Paulson hedge funds mixed in first quarter (Reuters)
The firm’s oldest portfolio, Paulson Partners, gained 6.6 percent during the quarter while the Paulson Enhanced fund jumped 13.3 percent. Both funds’ returns were fueled by the Express Scripts Medco acquisition and gains at Delphi Automotive. Declines in gold stocks weighed on some of Paulson’s other funds, the person who had seen the numbers but was not able to comment publicly said. The Paulson Advantage fund fell 3.96 percent in March to stand 1.05 percent lower for the year while its Paulson Advantage Plus fund fell 5.45 percent in March and was off 2.23 percent for the quarter. Last year these funds suffered double-digit losses.

JPMorgan Investment Bank Chief Widens Pay Lead on Rival (Bloomberg)
Jes Staley, chief executive officer of JPMorgan’s investment bank, beat his Bank of America counterpart in compensation after boosting earnings amid a market slump. Staley’s $16 million award for 2011 almost held steady from the $17 million he made the previous year as profit at the firm’s investment bank climbed 2.3 percent to $6.8 billion. Bank of America co-chief operating officer Thomas K. Montag’s pay dropped 25 percent to $12 million after profit at the lender’s investment bank plunged by more than half to $2.97 billion.

Gorman’s Pay Falls (Bloomberg)
Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer James Gorman’s compensation for 2011 totaled $10.5 million, a 25 percent cut from 2010 as the firm’s shares fell by almost half. Gorman, 53, got $5.04 million in restricted shares, and $1.94 million in shares tied to company performance, according to a proxy filing today from the New York-based investment bank. He also received a deferred cash bonus of $2.72 million that can be clawed back, in addition to his $800,000 salary. He didn’t receive an immediate cash bonus.

Mets in Opening Day ticket panic (NYP)
The Mets are so terrified by the embarrassing prospect of playing to empty seats at today’s opener, they’ve made an Amazin’ “buy one get one free” pitch. Some 15,000 of their fans have been offered one free seat for Saturday’s or Sunday’s Atlanta game in exchange for every ticket they buy for today’s opener. Plenty of the 41,880 seats for this afternoon’s game at Citi Field against the Braves were still available early today. If the Mets don’t sell out, it will be the first home opener since 1997 that didn’t fill their stadium.

Madoff wives to face trustee claims in Ponzi case (Reuters)
The trustee seeking money for victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, who lost an estimated $20 billion, may pursue claims against wives of the imprisoned swindler’s sons, a U.S. federal court judge said on Wednesday. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland in Manhattan said the trustee Irving Picard may pursue about $43 million of claims against Deborah Madoff, who married Andrew Madoff; and $33 million of claims against Stephanie Mack, the widow of Mark Madoff.

Germany, Switzerland Sign Tax Plan (WSJ)
Germany and Switzerland signed a new tax deal which allows wealthy Germans to retain their anonymity, while generating billions of euros in tax revenues for Berlin and ending a bruising dispute between the two neighboring countries over tax evasion and bank secrecy. The deal comes after Berlin and Bern agreed on last-minute amendments to a pact reached last summer in an effort to make it more appealing to German opposition leaders, who said Thursday they plan to veto it. “We believe it would be irresponsible to sign this deal, which is a slap in the face of every honest taxpayer,” said Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the Social Democrats.

Mega Millions ‘winner’ Mirlande Wilson’s lawyer: ‘I cannot say with any certainty this ticket exists’ (NYDN)
McDonald’s worker who claims she has a $218 million-winning Mega Millions ticket called a huge press conference Wednesday – and then arrived late only to tell the press to leave. Her lawyer announced to the mystified journalists packed into his Baltimore law office that the purpose of the press conference was “to ask you all to go home.” Mirlande Wilson, 37, of Maryland, who is said by coworkers to crave attention, hit one jackpot: a chaotic scrum of reporters and camera crews waiting to talk to her. But she never spoke. Asked if this was her plea for 15 minutes of fame, she shook her head. Her lawyer, Edward Smith, said, “no, she doesn’t want 15 minutes of fame.” Instead, he said, she would “like you all to go home.” For the record, Smith says he hasn’t seen the purported ticket either. “I cannot say with any certainty this ticket exists,” he said, unreasurringly. Wilson has told various conflicting stories about how she came by her alleged ducat. She told a TV station she bought it at a 7-Eleven store for herself. Then she said a coworker purchased it for her alone while separately buying tickets for the pool organized at her McDonald’s in Baltimore. “I thought I’d play one dollar by myself,” she told the Daily News. She has said she definitely won; she thinks she won; she has the ticket at home; she stashed the ticket at McDonalds; and she has it in another, unspecified secret “safe” place. On Monday, she told the News that she hasn’t even checked her ticket against the winning numbers.

66 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (66)

  1. Posted by Dennis Kneale | April 5, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    Wilbur, I look forward to eating you. It was fun while it lasted …

  2. Posted by Mexi_Cant | April 5, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    "I am also not sure if Mirlande is a human, or an extremely unevolved baboon"


  3. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    Morgan Stanley sucks

  4. Posted by Liberal Arts Guy | April 5, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    Jes Staley. Top Polar Bear.

  5. Posted by guesticles | April 5, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    You're a douchebag.

  6. Posted by Laxbro | April 5, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Nothing says I'm a pussy whipped insecure nerd quite like a pair of True Religions on a 50 year old guy. Reminds me of high school, when some old guys at the country club thought it was O.K. to wear Nike Golf everything. Clowns.

    the field > Tiger

  7. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    This would have been totally voted up on ATL.

  8. Posted by Lowly Assistant | April 5, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    How do you know that they're True Religion? Isn't it plausible that they're Gibraud or 7 for Mankind?

    -/NoHomo Quant

  9. Posted by Dude | April 5, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    This isn't 'Nam. This is DB. There are rules here.

  10. Posted by value added | April 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    nothing says i use pinterest like being able to identify the brand of jeans from a photo like that

  11. Posted by Laxbro | April 5, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    I don't. True Religion is just synonymous for tacky, not-age-appropriate denim a bored housewife picked out while hopped up on bubbly and a Zanny at a Neiman sale.

  12. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Interesting, PF's wearing the blue and pink bracelets. In schone Hamburg I believe that means VP's and above only and backdoor is in play.

  13. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    What is pinterest?

    – UBS Tumblr Quant

  14. Posted by C. Gasparino | April 5, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    I prefer golfing in an extra-small Affliction graphic tee and high-sheen wind pants.

  15. Posted by Chiarb | April 5, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Hey Laxbro-fuck you

    50 year old guy who has something age inappropriate for Laxbro

  16. Posted by Nailz6 | April 5, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Oh that MIrlande and her silly antics!

    I'ma kill that bitch!

    – Mirlande's Shift Manager

  17. Posted by Hot Carl | April 5, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Somebody get Phil an epipen, I think he has been stung by a swarm of bees!

  18. Posted by Manners and Money | April 5, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    So you worked as a caddy while in high school. Good for you. Be a good sport and go get that used toilet paper left in the trap at 13 by the foursome of drunk oil traders with the corporate membership, will you. Thanks. Here's a fiver.

  19. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Worse still is the number of buttons Phil decided to skip. Not even the "cool" Brits I know take it that far down.

  20. Posted by AIG Bond Expert | April 5, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    "Pinterest" is the amount of interest you must pay on the "day before" a loan comes due.

  21. Posted by Laxbro | April 5, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    If by caddy, you mean get blowies from the cart girl and rack up pro shop charges on my Dad's account. Yes, I caddied.

    Are you a True Religion fan? I seem to have struck a nerve.

  22. Posted by The Seer | April 5, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    I know

  23. Posted by hi mom | April 5, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Assuming the shoes match the belt, isn't that a fashion no no – mixing black and brown? Cool Rambo, part 2 necklace though.

  24. Posted by Hakuna Matata Guy | April 5, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Couldnt have come up with anything better than oil traders with the corporate membership?

  25. Posted by warburg baller | April 5, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    I'm leading the pintrest deal next quarter

  26. Posted by Texashedge | April 5, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Would been cooler if you hadn't called 'em 'blowies'

  27. Posted by Maryland shark #3645 | April 5, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I've joined this comment thread to ask you all to go home

  28. Posted by Texashedge | April 5, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Would have been cooler if you hadn't called them 'blowies'

  29. Posted by Shecky Steinbrenner | April 5, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    What do Merlande Wilson's lawyer and the Mets have in common? Neither can get people with real tickets to show up!

  30. Posted by M. Benson-Perella | April 5, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    That is absurd.

  31. Posted by Manners and Money | April 5, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Who struck a nerve??

  32. Posted by Manners and Money | April 5, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    So, what's the Brent/WTI spread doing this morning?

  33. Posted by Laxbro | April 5, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    I remember one summer a new cart vixen started in like June, and of course I started slamming her too. I let the old one find out about the new one so they had to compete for me. Little something I like to call cart girl capitalism.

    2011 was pretty chill.

  34. Posted by Cut Me | April 5, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    You seem to have left out the part where your Chase debit card was nearly maxed out from using it on two broads.

  35. Posted by thumbs up | April 5, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    that's unusually acerbic from you…

  36. Posted by Internet Tough Guy | April 5, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    spreading like your moms legs.

  37. Posted by Chiarb | April 5, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Stay classy

  38. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Nothing says I'm an avid reader of the The Times quite like a well-placed "acerbic."

  39. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Guys in my high school used to shit in country club bunkers all the time, it was no big deal.

  40. Posted by Manners and Money | April 5, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Hi Dad! Didn't know you had internet in maximum security.

  41. Posted by JOB | April 5, 2012 at 11:57 AM


  42. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    I like what I do right now but caddying was the best job I've ever had: playing cards with the lifers and listening to their ridiculous stories. The harder you hustle the more you make. Two up, two down at 7:30 on a Friday morning and head straight to the shore. People who never did will never get it.

    I'm a member at the same club now and assholes like Manners & Money – who were always short on the former – have to smile when they see me on the range and ask how things are going at work.

  43. Posted by Tullet and Preboned | April 5, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Call us.

  44. Posted by Berns | April 5, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Fucking Wilbon

    I'd been working that buy one get 100% free bit for years.

  45. Posted by Manners and Money | April 5, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Sounds like you're a [probably junior, non-equity] member at a real [read: not at all] exclusive club, bro. You should tell that story at parties.

  46. Posted by Farm & Ranch Quant | April 5, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    See you on the range? So, like you're a cowboy?

    -AIG Trader with Corporate Membership

  47. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    First of all, at what club would someone's guest shit/leave TP in a sandtrap and be allowed to maintain their membership in good standing? Also, as much as I am a fan of Laxbro's work, few country clubs have cart girls outside of special tournaments (member-guests, stags, etc).

  48. Posted by cogg diss | April 5, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    So you are saying you like to shit on cart girls ?

  49. Posted by Yugo You Know | April 5, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    "Acerbic" doesn't have anything to do with Croatia? Damn.

  50. Posted by Laxbro | April 5, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Carrying bags for $20 a loop and hanging out with the bottom feeders of society in the caddy shack sounds way cooler than you know, actually playing golf and getting rowdy at the pool with babes and rounds of juleps on Dad's tab. No it doesn't.

  51. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Nope got to know a few guys caddying when I was in school, then did a few deals with them recently and they asked me to join.

    You sound like a real down to earth guy though, Spalding. How's the Judge doing anyway?

  52. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Which in turn sounds a lot cooler than pretending to be someone else anonymously on the internet. (Really, mint juleps by the pool?)

  53. Posted by E. Texas Gas Trader | April 5, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    There is a tale in our industry of a major oil corpration's gas marketer getting a surprise intestinal illness attack while on a golf course in Houston and using the golf towel of his tournament partner to "clean up". He didn't use his own towel. His partner in the tourney kicked him off the cart and the major's rep had to walk back to the club house.

  54. Posted by PermaGuestII | April 5, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Hello, Spaulding.

  55. Posted by Delta Vagina | April 5, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    How much are you selling Wilbur for?

  56. Posted by Internet Tough Guy | April 5, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    You say that like its wrong.

  57. Posted by trojan_ | April 5, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    an actual bro would've used "smokeshow" not "vixen"

  58. Posted by UBS MD | April 5, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    We gotta find that ticket. It could make our whole year.

  59. Posted by above the law | April 5, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    this trend towards non equity partners is obviously going to far

  60. Posted by Ball To Bat | April 5, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Phil's a smart guy. He put himself in a position to get spousal support in divorce court.

  61. Posted by Laxbro | April 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    "Smokeshow" was cool to say, three years ago.

  62. Posted by Harbinger Investor | April 5, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    "I don't care" — really? Phil, plz give me a ring.

  63. Posted by Hakuna Matata Guy | April 5, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    You're nuts if you think I know what that means without using google!

    Enjoy your weekend

  64. Posted by thumbs up | April 5, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    that's more like it

  65. Posted by Guest | April 5, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    “LightSquared, if I have to, I’ll put it into bankruptcy. I don’t care,” adding that he would maintain control of the Reston, Virginia-based company if it filed.

    I hope Icahn emphasizes this quote in the bankruptcy filings.

  66. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    The American Dream – Spread the word to OWS.

    – Guy who's actually dead serious