Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 12.12.12

Three Questioned In Libor Probe (WSJ)
While the SFO didn’t identify the men, one of them is Thomas Hayes, a former trader at UBS and Citigroup, according to people familiar with the matter. Authorities in multiple countries have been looking into Mr. Hayes as an alleged coordinator of a group of employees at multiple banks who sought to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, according to people familiar with the case. One of the others arrested was Terry Farr, an employee of British brokerage firm R.P. Martin Holdings Ltd. in London who is currently on leave from the firm, according to a person familiar with the case. Mr. Farr has been under investigation for possibly helping bank employees coordinate their efforts to influence Libor, according to people familiar with the case.

HSBC Mexican Branches Said to Be Traffickers’ Favorites (Bloomberg)
From 2006 to 2010, the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle Cartel in Columbia moved more than $881 million in proceeds through HSBC’s U.S. unit, said Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division. Breuer, along with U.S. Attorney Lorretta Lynch in Brooklyn, New York, announced yesterday the bank had agreed to pay at least $1.9 billion to settle money laundering probes. “These traffickers didn’t have to try very hard,” Breuer said at a press conference in Brooklyn. “They would sometimes deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in a single day into a single account using boxes designed to fit the precise dimension of the tellers’ windows in HSBC’s Mexico branches.”

It Could Get Hairy Before ‘Cliff’ Deal: Greenspan (CNBC)
“The best possible outcome is to take something like Simpson-Bowles as it came out originally and work off that,” he said, of a deal to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that go into effect at the end of the year. But he said that reaching a final agreement won’t be an easy process, since the president believes he has a mandate following the election while House Republicans believe they, too, have a mandate. “I’m not at altogether clear how much control (Speaker) Boehner has over the overall caucus,” Greenspan said. “At the end of the day it will all work out but it’s going to be a bit hairy before we get there.”

Buffett Joins Soros in Effort to Raise Taxes on Estates (Bloomberg)
Billionaire investors Warren Buffett and George Soros are calling on Congress to increase the estate tax as lawmakers near a decision on tax policies that expire Dec. 31. In a joint statement Tuesday, Buffett, Soros and more than 20 other wealthy individuals asked Congress to lower the estate tax’s per-person exemption to $2 million from $5.12 million and raise the top rate to more than 45 percent from 35 percent. An estate tax structured this way will “raise significant revenue to reduce the deficit and fund vital services, will only be paid by the top one percent of estates, will raise more from the wealthiest estates” and will simplify compliance, said the statement. It also was signed by John Bogle, founder of mutual fund company Vanguard Group Inc., and former President Jimmy Carter.

U.S. Probe of SAC Trading Said to Be Linked to 2010 Case (Bloomberg)
A U.S. investigation of possible insider trading at SAC Capital Advisors LP, the $14 billion hedge fund run by Steven A. Cohen, is linked to a 2010 regulatory lawsuit over allegedly illegal trades in InterMune Inc, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s probe of trades that SAC Capital made in the Brisbane, California-based biopharmaceutical company is tied to a December 2010 SEC lawsuit against an investor, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter isn’t public. The investor bought InterMune options before a European Union regulatory panel urged approval of the company’s drug Esbriet to treat a fatal lung disease, the person said, declining to elaborate.

Man says law standing between him and sex acts with donkey is unconstitutional (NYDN)
Lawyers representing the frisky farmhand thrown in jail for allegedly masturbating with a donkey are now fighting to have Florida’s statute banning sex with animals declared unconstitutional. “By making sexual conduct with an animal a crime, the statute demeans individuals like Defendant by making his private sexual conduct a crime,” attorneys for 32-year-old Carlos R. Romero wrote in a motion filed last week, the Ocala-Star Banner reported. Romero was cuffed at an Ocala farm back in September after farm proprietor Gerald James told police he saw Romero with his pants down as he was seemingly having sex with a donkey named Doodle in an equipment room on Aug. 15, according to police report obtained by Romero later pleaded not guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor charge of sexual activities involving animals. He announced last week that he wanted his case to go to trial. His attorneys argue that Florida’s statute violates the farmhand’s rights by stripping him of his “personal liberty and autonomy when it comes to private intimate activities.”They say the statute is unconstitutional because it doesn’t require the state to provide any proof of the animal’s suffering “or any proof of the sexual activity being non-consensual.”

Inside The Risky Bets Of Central Banks (WSJ)
While many national governments, including the U.S., have failed to agree on fiscal policy—how best to balance tax revenues with spending during slow growth—the central bankers have forged their own path, independent of voters and politicians, bound by frequent conversations and relationships stretching back to university days. If the central bankers are correct, they will help the world economy avoid prolonged stagnation and a repeat of central banking mistakes in the 1930s. If they are wrong, they could kindle inflation or sow the seeds of another financial crisis. Failure also could lead to new restrictions on the power and independence of central banks, tools deemed crucial in such emergencies as the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Freeport’s $20 Billion Deal Stirs Backlash (WSJ)
Freeport agreed last week to acquire energy explorers McMoRan Exploration Co. MMR +0.85% and Plains Exploration & Production Co. PXP -0.42% in transactions that will cost the Arizona mining giant about $20 billion including assumed debt. The deal will result in six directors with overlapping roles at Freeport and McMoRan Exploration receiving payouts for their shares totaling more than $130 million, according to securities filings. Some Freeport investors and analysts also have questioned the wisdom of a metals miner diving into the oil and gas business. They have taken issue with what they call conflicts of interests among the shared executives and directors at Freeport and McMoRan and the fact that the deal as structured doesn’t require a Freeport shareholder vote.

Fed Discourages Bank Dealmaking (WSJ)
The Federal Reserve is pushing large U.S. banks to forget about all but the smallest acquisitions for a while amid a raging debate over the risk big lenders pose to the financial system.

Man Drive 100 MPH To Wedding, Gets Arrested (Again) (NWI)
Timothy N. Thompson, 23, of Valparaiso, was supposed to be married in a 7 p.m. ceremony. Instead, Thompson was arrested for resisting law enforcement, criminal recklessness and reckless driving. He was also cited for speeding and improper passing. According to police, an officer spotted Thompson about 6:30 p.m. Saturday speeding north in the center lane of Willowcreek Road. The officer estimated Thompson was driving 100 mph. Thompson allegedly continued to drive erratically, switching lanes abruptly and, according to the report, nearly wrecking. Police reported they followed Thompson as he turned into the parking lot of Nativity of Our Savior Church on Willowcreek Road, where he again nearly tipped over the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Once he entered the church’s parking lot, three people — later identified as relatives — began flailing their arms and yelling at him. Thompson drove through the parking lot, accelerating and doing a “doughnut,” creating a thick blanket of tire smoke, according to the report. When he stopped, Thompson told police he was late for his wedding and estimated he was doing “about 90″ mph. He also told police he had his emergency flashers on and was sounding his horn to alert drivers. When an officer walked away from Thompson’s vehicle, Thompson reentered his vehicle and drove toward the entrance of the church, where he was stopped by police again. “Oh, I thought you were done and I’m late for a party in Chicago,” police reported Thompson saying. “It now means I have to drive really fast to get there.” Thompson, who also told police he had just been released from jail that day, didn’t make his wedding. He was transported to Porter County Jail and held without bond.

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66 Responses to “Opening Bell: 12.12.12”

  1. Guest says:

    Congress should immediately accede to Buffett's request, and include a rule that estates over $1bn get taxed at 100% with no charitable deduction. That might raise even more money.

  2. [Redacted] says:

    Setlist for tonight –

    Miami 2017

    What others?

  3. nachocheese says:

    Greenspan: "I tawt I taw a putty tat"

  4. Doodle says:

    [redacted] EEE-AAWWW! [redacted]

  5. Texas A&M says:

    The "Doodle" story is relative to our interests.

  6. Old Macdonald says:


  7. VonSloneker says:

    These fiscal cliff negotiations could turn in to a hairy irrational protuberance

    – 12 year old Alan Greenspan

  8. Little Fritz says:

    And the punchline is:

    "Romero, you tit! You're supposed to ride the Donkey into town and get a hooker!"

  9. Guest says:

    Bess – please immediately fire your IT guy, this websites functionality has gone to sht

  10. M. Webster says:

    The wording is confusing – how does one masturbate "with" a donkey?

  11. guest says:

    I leave for two days and you get someone new; are you going to change the locks and tell me how I can't see the kids anymore too?
    Who is John Shazar?

  12. Guest says:

    Jimmy the Cricket sure has let himself go.

  13. Guest says:

    Is the point of wearing a checkered shirt to look as terrible as possible?

  14. Guest says:

    Look, your honor. It's my donkey, much the way this heated kumquat, is my kumquat. If it is legal for me to have sex with MY kumquat, it should be legal to have sex with MY donkey. It's not like I'm trying to have sexual relations with anyone else's donkey.

  15. Guestah says:

    Gay marriage >= sex with donkey

  16. Guest says:

    This is bull$hit! Winch one of you eccentric drama queens hired/photographed the corpse?
    -Warby Parker

  17. Puck It says:

    If the dude were smart, he'd be driving 100 mph *away* from his wedding. And also away from Indiana.

  18. Guest says:

    Should be allowed to marry his donkey too…

  19. Guest says:

    Look at the set of withers on that one!


  20. Abe_Froman_ says:

    non-consensual? Did you see what that donkey was wearing?

  21. Novak says:

    Ignore the haters Carlos, I get it.

  22. Hobbes says:

    Carlos, you can have sex with donkeys, just not with my donkeys.

    -Gerald James

  23. Quant me maybe says:

    Mr Greenspan would look snazzy in a pair of Warby Parkers.

  24. PermaGuestII says:

    And coincidentally, Berkshire Hathaway is an insurance company. Funny thing about that.

  25. Guest says:

    But, your honor, it's legitimate if the donkey doesn't get pregnant.

  26. Im_a_Dude says:

    Is that a reincarnation of the bonobos guy in the top right with the goofy hat?

  27. Taking Note says:

    Carlos, is it called doggie style or donkey style? Just curious…

  28. 3rdTierIvy says:

    I thought the "Columbia" cartel was already busted