• 09 Apr 2012 at 9:24 AM

Opening Bell: 04.09.12

JPMorgan Trader Iksil Fuels Prop-Trading Debate With Bets (Bloomberg)
Iksil’s influence in the market has spurred some counterparts to dub him Voldemort, after the Harry Potter villain. He works in London in the bank’s chief investment office, which has assembled traders from across Wall Street to its staff of 400 who help oversee $350 billion in investments. While the firm describes the unit’s main task as hedging risks and investing excess cash, four hedge-fund managers and dealers say the trades are big enough to move indexes and resemble proprietary bets…The trades, first reported by Bloomberg News April 5, stirred debate among U.S. policy makers over the Easter-holiday weekend as they wrangle over this year’s implementation of the so-called Volcker rule, the portion of the Dodd-Frank Act that sets limits on risk-taking by banks with government backing.

Taking Measure Of Citigroup And Bank Of America (NYT)
Bank of America shares are up 66 percent this year, while Citigroup has risen 33 percent, amid the broader rebound in financial stocks. After staying out of the spotlight and earning $21 billion over the last two years, Citigroup’s potential problems are gaining attention again…At Barclays, the analyst Jason Goldberg said he was shocked when Citigroup did not get the go-ahead from the Fed, adding, “We had run mock stress tests with Citi passing by a fair amount.” Just as surprising, he added, has been Bank of America’s surge this year. Its performance has been a far cry from last year, when Bank of America’s stock, which closed at $9.23 on Thursday, was flirting with $5, and questions about whether it had enough capital were mounting. “If you asked me in January whether this thing would be up 66 percent, I’d have said you’re crazy,” Mr. Goldberg said, referring to Bank of America’s stock performance this year.

A ‘Fat Cat’ With The President’s Ear (WSJ)
When President Barack Obama attacked “fat-cat bankers on Wall Street” in 2009, Robert Wolf had a ready response. “I said ‘Mr. President, I know you think I’m overweight, but I can think of better names to call me,'” Mr. Wolf recalls. “He laughed.” Humor and self-deprecation have served Mr. Wolf well in his often conflicting roles as presidential pal and Wall Street power broker. The 50-year-old president of UBS’s UBS investment bank has remained a leading voice in the industry while also serving as Mr. Obama’s chief Wall Street fundraiser and his current BFF (best friend in finance)…Mr. Wolf plays golf and basketball with the president and he is a frequent visitor to the White House. On vacation in Martha’s Vineyard or at fundraising events, the two often bond over sports and their families, since they each have two school-age kids. As if to prove the president wrong about “fat cats,” Mr. Wolf says he has lost 20 pounds in the past three months.

Willing Banks Find Profits in Legal Trade With Iran (WSJ)
As Western sanctions on Iran have grown tighter, some small banks have found a lucrative niche financing what remains of the legal trade with the Islamic Republic. Top-tier financial institutions including Société Générale SA GLE.FR -0.74% and Rabobank Group have stepped back from business with Iran in recent months, citing increased political risk and logistical hassles that attend even legal trade with the country. As a result, the remaining players are commanding higher fees and offering increasingly complicated services. Like Russia’s First Czech-Russian Bank LLC and China’s Bank of Kunlun Co. Ltd, they are typically small, obscure financial institutions often based in countries historically friendly to Iran. The firms and other intermediaries still brokering these trades are charging more than 6% per transaction for legitimate trade deals with Iran, on top of traditional banking fees, according to traders and bankers knowledgeable with the process. That is as much as triple the fees typically charged by Arab Gulf banks two years ago, before the United States and European Union significantly stiffened sanctions, according to Iranian businessmen.

Easter Bunny Arrested (KTLA)
An Easter Bunny was arrested this week after police found he was carrying around more than Easter eggs and candy. Joshua Lee Bolling, 24, was arrested and charged on Thursday with illegally possessing prescription narcotics. Police arrested Bolling after businesses at the Piedmont Mall in Danville, Virginia complained that the Easter Bunny was acting suspicious. “His suspicious behavior took place while he was on breaks and not during his contact with children,” a police release said.

UBS Faces Billionaire Olenicoff in Lawsuit Over His Tax Felony (Bloomberg)
and billionaire Igor Olenicoff are scheduled to clash in court today over his claim that the bank bears blame for his failure to declare $200 million in offshore accounts on U.S. tax returns. Olenicoff, 69, a real-estate developer, pleaded guilty in 2007 to filing a false tax return, admitting he didn’t tell the Internal Revenue Service about his offshore accounts for seven years. He was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to pay $52 million in back taxes, fines and penalties. In 2008, he sued Zurich-based UBS, the largest Swiss bank, claiming it traded excessively in his accounts, engaged in racketeering and committed fraud by not telling him he owed U.S. taxes. He seeks as much as $1.7 billion in damages. Arguments on the bank’s motion to dismiss the case are set for today before U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford in Santa Ana, California.

Markets at the Start of a More Significant Downturn Says Marc Faber (CNBC)
“The technical underpinnings of the market have been a disaster in the last couple of weeks,” Faber said on the sidelines of the Maybank Invest Asia conference. “The number of new highs have declined, the volume has been poor, insider sales just hit a record.” Faber said the weakness in economically sensitive stocks such as mining and industrial goods was particularly “disturbing.”

For Big Companies, Life Is Good (WSJ)
An analysis by The Wall Street Journal of corporate financial reports finds that cumulative sales, profits and employment last year among members of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index exceeded the totals of 2007, before the recession and financial crisis.

Agencies At Odds Over New Ratings (FT)
The latest example came this month when a near-$800 million bond deal backed by U.S. prime mortgages was sold to investors with triple-A ratings — provided by Standard & Poor’s and DBRS, a smaller competitor based in Canada — on some tranches. Fitch Ratings issued a statement saying it would not have rated the bonds triple A. It said it provided “feedback” on the transaction to the arranger, Credit Suisse, and “was ultimately not asked to rate the deal due to the agency’s more conservative credit stance”. Steven Vames, a Credit Suisse spokesman, said it was common for an issuer to engage multiple rating agencies to look at a deal and ultimately choose a subset of those agencies to rate it. In March, Moody’s said: “Some recent cases have come to market for which we believe increased risk has not been adequately mitigated for the level of ratings assigned by another agency.” In particular, Moody’s faulted ratings issued by S&P, Fitch and DBRS on asset-backed deals.

UK Cruise Retraces Titanic’s Ill-Fated Voyage (Reuters)
Descendants of some of the 1,500 people killed when the Titanic sank a century ago were among the passengers on a cruise ship that set off from Britain on Sunday to retrace the route of the liner’s ill-fated voyage. Some donned period costume, including furs and feathered hats for women and suits and bowler hats for men, to board the MS Balmoral at Southampton on the southern English coast. The world’s most famous maritime disaster has fascinated people ever since, explaining why passengers from 28 countries were prepared to pay up to 8,000 pounds ($13,000) each to be a passenger on the memorial cruise organized by a British travel firm. The Balmoral will follow in the wake of the Titanic, sailing near Cherbourg in France and then calling at Cobh inIreland before arriving at the spot where the Titanic went down…Passenger Jane Allen, whose great-uncle died on his honeymoon trip on the Titanic while her great-aunt survived, said she did not think it was “ghoulish or macabre” to go on the voyage.

63 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (63)

  1. Posted by Dr_Rosenrose | April 9, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    Come on, man, those aren't mine! I was holding those Klonopin for the Tooth Fairy – you've gotta believe me.

  2. Posted by PermaGuestII | April 9, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    So what does the M/S Balmoral do when she reaches 41 43' N, 49 56' W? Sink?

    -Guy who thinks the ship's owners are geniuses to be able to get a bunch of people to pay $13k/ea to go on a cruise on the North Atlantic in early Spring.

  3. Posted by AIG Pun Quant | April 9, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    I don't see what the big deal is, Easter Bunny was just trying to get all hopped up.

  4. Posted by Deck Chair Quant | April 9, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Finally my services are needed again

  5. Posted by VonSloneker | April 9, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Chemical assistance really helped my Easter Bunny portrayal as well.

    – Russell Brand

  6. Posted by hmmmmm | April 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    lights off, on the couch, $5 on the nightstand.

    -voldemort admirer

  7. Posted by Hateraid | April 9, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Marcus: It won't happen again. I can promise you that. Joshua here has low blood sugar. That's all.
    Joshua: That's right. I forgot to take my pill.
    Bob Chipeska: It's not just the swearing. Forgive me for prying, but did one of you, um, fornicate…
    Joshua: Fornicate?
    Bob Chipeska: Yes. With a heavy-set woman in the big-and-tall dressing room?
    Joshua: Look, I've boned a lot of fat chicks in my time, sure. But, as far back as I can remember, I've never fornicated anybody.

  8. Posted by CLIFF ASNESS | April 9, 2012 at 10:17 AM



  9. Posted by J. Epstein | April 9, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    “His suspicious behavior took place while he was on breaks and not during his contact with children,"

    Wish I could say the same.

  10. Posted by Bunbun the Rabbit | April 9, 2012 at 10:27 AM


  11. Posted by AIG Quant via LEH | April 9, 2012 at 10:28 AM


  12. Posted by J. Gundlach | April 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    That's just fucking weird.

  13. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    yeah, why do you have a nightstand by your couch? freak.

  14. Posted by Pluto | April 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Fuck you, Neil.

  15. Posted by guest | April 9, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    just one guy's opinion, but the "lights on /off, etc, etc" jokes are hands down the least funny on these boards. always.

  16. Posted by Playboy Bunny | April 9, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    No tail analysis?

  17. Posted by AIG Quant via LEH | April 9, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    UBS staff are fat? Who knew. Must be all those McD and Taco Bell lunches.

  18. Posted by Dallas Secure | April 9, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Is that how you guys do it in Stamford?

  19. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Stop yelling!

  20. Posted by Objectionable | April 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    If the JP Morgan trader is Voldemort, does that make PMCO an 16 year-old Hermoine Granger in school uniform?

  21. Posted by Objectionable again | April 9, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    a vs. an. I got too excited thinking about that image…

  22. Posted by UBS Analyst | April 9, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Those are only for client meetings.

    -Stamford Food Bank Visitor

  23. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    you're right, that is just one guy's opinion.

  24. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    God, that was exhausting to read.

  25. Posted by Just Saying | April 9, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    clearly you're a lights off, by yourself, lotion in hand kind of guy

  26. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    The old ambien jumpstart.

  27. Posted by Jimmy Boy | April 9, 2012 at 12:19 PM


    -Explorer in residence

  28. Posted by To Loud | April 9, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Surprised this wasn't signed CAP

    -Around the block to often Quant

  29. Posted by Therapist | April 9, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Fat Dumb and broke is no way to go through life UBS MD…

  30. Posted by trojan_ | April 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    No, Bess is Hermoine and Matt is Ron Weasley.

  31. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    It wasn't an eggcellent idea to bring the pills around the kids though.

  32. Posted by MWalburg | April 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    I'm the other guy!

  33. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    So the head of UBS's Sponsor Finance coverage team is close friends with the president who's made raising taxes on GPs a priority? Yea that sounds about right.

  34. Posted by AIG Pun Quant | April 9, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Well he tried making his own beer but always overdid it on the hops.

  35. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Ya I missed the cruise but eagerly await the 25th anniversary Rawandan walking tour in a few years.

  36. Posted by FKApmco | April 9, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Correct, Troj. I'm more like Minerva McGonagall…but not that old and better looking. Think TILF

  37. Posted by PermaGuestII | April 9, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Will that coincide with a 125th anniversary cruise up the Congo?


  38. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    From the sound of the article, there was backwardation in the CDS market, which really doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and JPM has a $100 billion+ position that'll make them $470 million+ between now and December? Sweet.

    Could we please have a Matt post explaining why this is/is not a danger to the entire system that could cost us all our jobs? With charts, please. Thanks.

  39. Posted by Guest | April 9, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Do recall how many times Marlow says 'dark' or 'darkness' in that book. Nerds at Sarah Lawrence play the HOD drinking game where they take a shot every time you read the word. You'd be drunk by page 2.

    Conrad, Upton Sinclair = overrated, turn-of-the-century Keith Olbermans.

  40. Posted by Merrill Lynch Drone | April 9, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    No its Fat, Drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life from anybody at UBS!

  41. Posted by PermaGuestII | April 9, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    Don't think I'd put those two in the same bracket at all.

    Also happen to think "Lord Jim" is a better book than "Heart of Darkness," fwiw.

  42. Posted by hmmmmm | April 9, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    I prefer Gun Oil lube, not the lotion. But if I had to, I'd prefer Vaseline Aloe Vera…

  43. Posted by buboe | April 10, 2012 at 12:05 AM

    tits i'd like to fuck?
    That'd be all of them…

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