Opening Bell: 01.04.13

SEC Drops Case Against Ex-Berkshire Exec Sokol (Reuters)
The U.S. securities regulator has decided not to take action against David Sokol, once considered a possible candidate for the top job at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Sokol’s lawyer told Reuters. In 2011, Buffett said Sokol violated the company’s insider trading rules to score a $3 million windfall profit on shares of U.S. chemicals maker Lubrizol, which rose by nearly a third after Berkshire Hathaway announced it would buy the company. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating Sokol’s investment in Lubrizol shortly after Sokol resigned from Berkshire Hathaway. Sokol’s lawyer Barry Wm. Levine told Reuters late on Thursday that he was informed that the SEC had wrapped up its probe and decided not to take action against Sokol. “SEC has terminated its investigation and has concluded not to bring any proceedings against Sokol,” said Levine, a lawyer at legal firm Dickstein Shapiro. Sokol has been “completely cleared” as there was no evidence against his client, Levine said.

Cohen’s SAC Tops Most Profitable List Amid Insider Probes (Bloomberg)
SAC Capital International, Cohen’s flagship fund, was the world’s most-profitable hedge fund in the first 10 months of 2012, earning $789.5 million for Cohen, 56, and his managers, according to Bloomberg Markets’ annual ranking of hedge funds…SAC Capital International is No. 1 not because of performance; it ties for No. 86 on that measure, with a 10 percent return in the Markets ranking of the 100 top-performing funds. Rather, the fund earned the most money because Cohen charges some of the highest fees on Wall Street. While most funds impose a 1 to 2 percent management fee and then take 15 to 20 percent of the profits, Cohen levies 3 percent and as much as 50 percent, according to investors.

Geithner’s Planned Departure Puts Obama In A Tough Spot (Reuters)
The Treasury Department said Geithner would stick to his previously announced schedule to stay until sometime around the Jan. 21 inauguration. Obama chose Geithner to lead the just-ended negotiations with Congress to avert the Dec. 31 fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax hikes that threatened to push the economy back into recession. But the deal, which preserved most of the Bush-era tax breaks for Americans, sets up a series of crucial fiscal deadlines by delaying automatic spending cuts until March 1 and not increasing the government’s borrowing limit. That puts Obama in the tough spot of nominating another Treasury secretary and asking the Senate to approve his choice when lawmakers are in the middle of another budget battle.

Egan Jones Says Further US Downgrades Unlikely (CNBC)
“This latest round (of negotiations) indicates a sign of health. You have a major ideological clash going on in Congress and many people uncomfortable with it, but it is part of democracy. The more positive light is that we actually have a deal and can move forward,” Sean Egan, managing director of Egan-Jones told CNBC on Friday. “We’ve gotten a lot more comfortable about the U.S. and we probably won’t take additional negative actions for the foreseeable future,” he added.

Almost All of Wall Street Got 2012 Market Calls Wrong (Bloomberg)
From John Paulson’s call for a collapse in Europe to Morgan Stanley’s warning that U.S. stocks would decline, Wall Street got little right in its prognosis for the year just ended. Paulson, who manages $19 billion in hedge funds, said the euro would fall apart and bet against the region’s debt. Morgan Stanley predicted the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index would lose 7 percent and Credit Suisse foresaw wider swings in equity prices. All of them proved wrong last year and investors would have done better listening to Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein, who said the real risk was being too pessimistic. The ill-timed advice shows that even the largest banks and most-successful investors failed to anticipate how government actions would influence markets. Unprecedented central bank stimulus in the U.S. and Europe sparked a 16 percent gain in the S&P 500 including dividends, led to a 23 percent drop in the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, paid investors in Greek debt 78 percent and gave Treasuries a 2.2 percent return even after Warren Buffett called bonds “dangerous.”

Fed Divided Over Bond Buys (WSJ)
A new fault line has opened up at the Federal Reserve over how long to continue bond-buying programs aimed at spurring stronger economic growth. Minutes released Thursday of the Fed’s Dec. 11-12 policy meeting showed that officials were divided. Some wanted to continue the programs through the end of 2013, others wanted to end them well before then and a minority wanted to halt the programs right away.

Swiss Bank Pleads Guilty In Probe (WSJ)
In the latest blow to Switzerland’s centuries-old banking practices, the country’s oldest bank pleaded guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge in the U.S. on Thursday and admitted that it helped wealthy Americans for years avoid tens of millions of dollars in taxes by hiding their income from secret accounts abroad. Wegelin & Co., founded in 1741, is the latest Swiss bank to reach a deal with U.S. prosecutors as they crack down on Americans who kept their money in secret accounts overseas and the entities which helped them. Three Wegelin bankers also were charged criminally in the U.S. last year.

Subway worker tells customer to ‘fight me like a man,’ during confrontation over ketchup (WFTV)
Luis Martinez said he stopped by a Subway shop in a Walmart on South Semoran Boulevard late Tuesday night to get something to eat. He said he ordered a Philly cheese steak the way he always does. “American cheese, onions and ketchup,” said Martinez. Lawrence Ordone was working behind the counter. “He wants ketchup on the Philly cheese steak and I have never put — we don’t even have ketchup at Subway — I’ve never put ketchup on anybody’s sandwich,” said Ordone. Martinez said he didn’t want the sandwich without the ketchup and that a man next to him in line offered to buy the sandwich. Ordone said that Martinez mouthed off at the man. Martinez denied saying anything, but neither he or Ordone disputed what they said happened next. “That’s when I flew off the handle,” said Ordone. “He shoved a chair to the side, like knocked it down to come at me, and I said, ‘This is going to be serious,’” said Martinez. “I said, ‘Let’s go, fight me like a man,’” said Ordone. “I was scared. Next thing, I’m thinking a gun’s going to come out,” said Martinez. Ordone said he blocked the customer so he couldn’t get out. “He threatened to kill me in front of my wife,” said Martinez. Martinez called 911, but by the time police got there the Subway worker had already left. Ordone said he was fired from his job Wednesday, and that he is baffled the confrontation started over something as simple as ketchup. “There’s ketchup three aisles down. You can go buy your own ketchup, and I promise to God, you can put as much as you want on it and nobody’s going to say nothing,” said Ordone.

Economy Adds 155,000 Jobs (WSJ)
Rebuilding following superstorm Sandy, which struck the Northeast in late October, likely added to job growth last month. Nationally, employment in the construction sector advanced by 30,000 jobs. Meanwhile, manufacturing payrolls increased by 25,000 and health-care jobs grew by 45,000.

JPMorgan Faces Sanction for Refusing to Provide Madoff Documents (Bloomberg)
The Treasury Department’s inspector general has threatened to punish JPMorgan Chase for failing to turn over documents to regulators investigating the bank’s ties to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Inspector General Eric Thorson gave the largest U.S. bank a Jan. 11 deadline to cooperate with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency probe or risk sanctions for impeding the agency’s oversight. JPMorgan, according to the Dec. 21 letter, contends the information is protected by attorney-client privilege.

Rich Catch a Break With Budget Deal Providing Deductions (Bloomberg)
“The increases in taxes and limits to deductions are more favorable than expected,” said Christopher Zander, partner and head of wealth planning at Evercore Partners Inc. (EVR)’s wealth management unit. “They could have been worse for high net-worth taxpayers.”

Regulators to ease up on banks to get credit flowing (Reuters)
Banks will get more time to build up cash buffers to protect against market shocks under a rule change that could help free up credit for struggling economies, a European regulatory source said. The Basel Committee, made up of banking supervisors from nearly 30 countries, is expected to announce the revision on Sunday to its “liquidity coverage” ratio or LCR, part of efforts to make banks less likely to need taxpayer help again in a crisis. The change comes after heavy pressure from banks and some regulators, who feared Basel’s original version would suck up too much liquidity at a time when ailing economies are badly in need of a ready supply of credit to finance growth.

‘Stripper’ arrested after performance art leads to ruckus in Hallandale (SS)
According to police and witnesses, Mena, 25, was first spotted standing and yelling in the middle of A1A outside her condo building along the 1800 block of South Ocean Drive about 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Noel von Kauffman, 40, said he was walking along the street when he noticed Mena trying to direct traffic while wearing a tank-top, cut-off jean shorts and tall boots…At some point, Mena picked up a traffic cone and threw it at a car driven by Dieter Heinrich, 49, of Dania Beach, according to an arrest report. The cone broke the car’s side mirror, causing about $300 in damages, the report indicated. When Heinrich got out of his car, Mena allegedly spat in his face. Von Kauffman said he jumped in to help Heinrich, who had children in the back seat of his car. Mena scratched von Kauffman’s wrist as the two men tried to restrain her and move her away from the busy roadway, according to the police report. After pinning her to the ground, von Kauffman said the woman first tried to say the incident was part of a television show and that everything was being caught on camera. Then she claimed she was a federal agent. Then she said she was friends with Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper and everyone involved would be in trouble, von Kauffman said.

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Comments (75)

  1. Posted by IgglesFan2004 | January 4, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    "Let's hire that Subway guy as the next head coach!"

    -Jeffrey Lurie

  2. Posted by Carl H. | January 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    I like that Florida whack-job stories are becoming a regular Opening Bell feature.

    - Guy with a weed-whacker for an arm

  3. Posted by Words to Live By | January 4, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    The link goes to an actual video of the arraignment / bond hearing. Best quote from the judge / magistrate"

    "I suggest not wearing boots and doing artwork in the middle of a roadway," Hurley said. "I would start right there and everything will start looking up for you."

  4. Posted by Florida Quant | January 4, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Candid Camera Producer < FBI Agent < Part of Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper's inner circle?

  5. Posted by VonSloneker | January 4, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Could you describe the ruckus sir?

    - Brian Johnson

  6. Posted by McD Strategy VP | January 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    Waiting for the chart comparing fast food employee assault jail sentences to those given to insider traders, very interesting to see if "how much money you made" has more of an impact than whether or not the alleged victim "fought you like a man."

  7. Posted by Paulson Mayo | January 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    SAC is the Florida of Hedge Funds.

  8. Posted by UBS Arts & Crafts VP | January 4, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Thanks, pretty upbeat about 2013! Quick question, does a parkway count as a roadway, or am I still safe on one of those?

    -Guy in '95 Honda Accord on the side of the Merritt

  9. Posted by AdMaster | January 4, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Need to get my wife a stairmaster…

  10. Posted by No one ever. | January 4, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Oh Egan Jones have downgraded the US. How interesting, I'll definately be changing my asset allocation on the back of that.

  11. Posted by Negative Matata Guy | January 4, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

    sike.

  12. Posted by Mexi_Cant | January 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    What is a man in an orange shirt and a tie doing ordering food at a subway in a wal-mart? Affirmative action should at least gotten him a job as a VP in derivative sales at Goldman.

  13. Posted by Guest | January 4, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    I never realized Warren was so big!

    -UBS Relative Size Quant

  14. Posted by Bejujular | January 4, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Not Subway! If this was a Detroit Denny's or Minetta's I'd understand but how will I ever confidently grab an affordable cheddar cheese sandwich again?

  15. Posted by Swing and a miss | January 4, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Sounds like Ordone is a kvetch-up…

  16. Posted by Oil Trading Genius | January 4, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Why do we park on a driveway but drive on a parkway?

  17. Posted by Huevo Batters | January 4, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    The "Thighmaster" device works better if you point the orange joint thingy away from you when using it.

  18. Posted by Lowly Assistant | January 4, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Rex Ryan is what the subprime is in trouble.
    http://deadspin.com/5973093/rex-ryan-has-a-tattoo

  19. Posted by Guest | January 4, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    "Subway worker tells customer to ‘fight me like a man,’ during confrontation over ketchup"

    Punk got lucky, I would have made him feel like a rainbow trout at Nobu.

    -Bryan Jennings

  20. Posted by It's Catsup! | January 4, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    I used to have a summer job in a tomato paste factory. The line moved too fast for me and I could never ketchup.

  21. Posted by Airborne Porsche Guy | January 4, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    On the former, well not everyone does that all the time.

  22. Posted by Liter of Cola | January 4, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Everyone is on fire today! Keep it up, b b boys!

  23. Posted by TV in the Trade Room | January 4, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    The two worst ad campaign music offerings right now are in the Sam Adams beer commercial and that perfume ad where Charlize, in a see-through dress, stomps down a runway near a CGI Marilyn and Grace.

  24. Posted by I.C.E. | January 4, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    same with Indian insider trading.

  25. Posted by United States | January 4, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    We are looking to eliminate that.

  26. Posted by Guest | January 4, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    It wasn't that funny. In fact, you can probably get banned from this site for saying things like that.

  27. Posted by guest | January 4, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Cool story.

  28. Posted by Vikings + 7.5 | January 4, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Agreed on the first one with the gay song.

    Not the second, possibly the best looking woman around last ten years.

    Don't forget the Brad Pitt channel that we are sure to see in the playoffs this weekend.

    WTF , does he need coin ? pimping himself like that

  29. Posted by Shecky BMT | January 4, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    A Subway sandwich walks into a bar, sits down, and starts to order a drink.

    The bartender looks at him funny and says "Get out of here. We don't serve food in here!"

  30. Posted by Karl Loggerhead | January 4, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    It sounds like Jeff Macke wrote Brad Pitts' lines in the Chanel ad.

  31. Posted by Inner Matt Thoughts | January 4, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Shazar asked if he could bring his dog to work today. I was not keen on the idea, but Bess signed off on it regardless. I’m always the first one in the office, as I follow a very structured morning routine. While I stand waiting for the Tassimo to make my caramel macchiato at the precise time, my attention was drawn to a high pitched yipping noise. I follow the noise only to end up in the lobby. I look down and lay my eyes on a teacup Chihuahua. To my surprise I hear a familiar voice –it’s Shazars –and he is calling for the dog. At that moment I realized that Shazar not only owns one of those chick accessory dogs, but he named it Paris too. I then realize that he carried the dog to work in a purse. Yes, that’s right….he carries a purse.

  32. Posted by Hobbes | January 4, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    So insider trading at folksy Nebraska firms is ok, insider trading at a Manhattan based hedge fund bad. Got it.

    - SEC case worker

  33. Posted by Guest | January 4, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Chick accessory dogs?

    Wait till I instruct you to put the lotion in the freaking basket!

    Yes he will Paris, he's going to get the hose!

    -Buffalo "Shazar" Bill

  34. Posted by Had to be there | January 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    A papa tomato, mama tomato and baby tomato were out for a walk and baby tomato kept falling behind. Papa tomato got impatient, walked back to baby tomato, stomped his foot and said "ketchup".

  35. Posted by Guest | January 4, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Subway's meatball sub is amazing. That is all.

  36. Posted by qwestion | January 4, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    We should hook up.

    - Girl with a paint-shaker for a va-jay-jay.

  37. Posted by potbelly occash | January 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Prole

  38. Posted by Pet Peeve | January 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    "definitely"

  39. Posted by qwestion | January 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Goldman? Good luck. Vampire squids die hard.

  40. Posted by Little Fritz | January 4, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    But who gets a Philly Cheesesteak from a Subway? Only a joker wearing an orange shirt and tie at 2am.

    -guy who grew up in Philly and know the Pat's/Gino's thing is a crock and you can get a decent cheesesteak almost anywhere in Philly as long as you avoid a chain.

  41. Posted by Cincinnatti Perhaps? | January 4, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Your culinary preferences identify your place of origin as somewhere dead in the middle of flyover country.

  42. Posted by James S. Cramer | January 4, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    "Almost All of Wall Street Got 2012 Market Calls Wrong"

    YOU GOT THAT RIGHT SKEEEEEEE DADDY!!! ALMOST ALL OF WALL STREET BUT NOT THIS GUY!!! BE SURE TO TUNE INTO MY SHOW TONIGHT AND I'LL TELL YOU WHY FB IS A BUY! AND WHY YOU SHOULD'NT BE DISAPPOINTED IF YOU BOUGHT SHARES IN THE OPEN MARKET IN THE FIRST 10MINS OF TRADING.

    AND AS ALWAYS BOOOOOOO YAAAAAAA SKEEEEEEEE DADDDDDDDYYYYYYY

    UNTIL NEXT TIME MY LOVE DOVES,
    <3 JIMBO

  43. Posted by THEBro | January 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Now we're talkin!

    -you know who

  44. Posted by James S. Cramer | January 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    HAHAHAHA WHAT A COCKANAMY JOKE!!!! IF IT WERE ME I WOULD'VE GIVEN THAT SUB-BOY THE OLE' ONE TWO ACROSS THE FACE WITH MY LIL' "CHEESE STEAK" IF YA CATCH MY DRIFT SKEET DADDY ;)

  45. Posted by Bruce Jenner | January 4, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    They're introducing a new Olympic Sport – the javelin catch. I think you could, and should, try to make the team.

  46. Posted by Guest | January 4, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    What's a sub?

  47. Posted by M. Webster | January 4, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cockamamie….

    Other than that, I have innumerable concerns.

  48. Posted by guest | January 4, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    what, goldman? i think you are right.

  49. Posted by Bored Guest | January 4, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    CT, but hey, I'm not going to sweat this one…

  50. Posted by Lunch for pussys | January 4, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Chi

  51. Posted by Grindr | January 4, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    I bet you are up on places for tube steak too…

  52. Posted by 250$per; avocational | January 4, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    I love the Vikes + 7.5

    I love Texans -4.5

    No action on other two games.

  53. Posted by guest | January 4, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Please go sit on a traffic cone in the nude.

  54. Posted by Lawrence Ordone | January 4, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    That escalated quickly.

  55. Posted by Shocked guy | January 4, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Almost All of Wall Street Got 2012 Market Calls Wrong

  56. Posted by Rap quant | January 4, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Goldie keeps on making it…..The rest keep on faking it….

  57. Posted by J. Gundlach | January 4, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    I hope you step on a Lego

  58. Posted by Guest | January 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    you really are the worst.

  59. Posted by Sacko trader | January 4, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Made me laugh, but minus one because i saw minus six ahead of me

  60. Posted by Midwestern quant | January 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Awww shucks, I knew I shoulda bought them shares mama!

  61. Posted by Midwestern quant | January 4, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    That was fucking funny, and original.

  62. Posted by Costanza | January 4, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Grab some bench, Seinfeld

  63. Posted by Flo | January 4, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Has a Philly Guido EVER avoided a chain?

    - guy that is referring to the gold chain(s) around Philly Guidos' necks

  64. Posted by Flo | January 4, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    And now for a sement we call "Germany or Florida?"

    - guy that has been to Florida enough times to know it is "Deliverance" with nice beaches

  65. Posted by Had to be there | January 4, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Must not work for Contrarian…

  66. Posted by Dwight Eisenhower | January 4, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Hey!

  67. Posted by Had to be there | January 4, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Serious question here: is <3 supposed to be a heart or a scrotum?

  68. Posted by Tenaskanation | January 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Big fish in a little pond.

  69. Posted by Paco Roban | January 4, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    beeches ?

    where are the beeches

  70. Posted by Gregger | January 4, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Might I recommend that you try a cheddar cheese salad?

  71. Posted by Movie Buff | January 4, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Show Dick some respect!

  72. Posted by Hallamjajjah | January 4, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    I see ya' little speed boat head up our coast She really want to skip townGet back off me, beast off me Get back you flea infested monger

  73. Posted by Minnesnowta | January 4, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    Skol Vikes!

    -The one guy from MN on Dealbreaker

  74. Posted by Guest | January 4, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    Charlize is the only reason why I haven't gone fully asian.

    - KTown connoisseur

  75. Posted by sohbet | May 12, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    telling these little stories, here's a good idea: Have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener.