Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 01.11.13

Wells Fargo Profit Rises as Bank Gains From Refinancing (Bloomberg)
Net income advanced to a record $5.09 billion, or 91 cents a share, from $4.11 billion, or 73 cents, a year earlier, the San Francisco-based bank said today in a statement. That beat the 89-cent average estimate of 27 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, some of whom were excluding one-time costs tied to a regulatory settlement.

SAC Is Bracing For Big Exodus Of Funds (WSJ)
Hedge-fund group SAC Capital Advisors has told employees and business partners it is bracing for client withdrawals of at least $1 billion this year—nearly 17% of the money it manages for outside investors—amid intense regulatory scrutiny of alleged insider trading, people briefed on the conversations said…SAC manages $14 billion in total, but only around $6 billion comes from outside investors, most of the rest belonging to Mr. Cohen and SAC employees. Clients have until Feb. 15 to put in a redemption request to receive money by the first quarter’s end; it is likely even SAC won’t know the precise figure that investors will ask to pull until then. However, in recent weeks the firm’s executives have been alerting advisers and senior employees that the withdrawal requests, known as “redemptions” in the hedge-fund industry, could total $1 billion or more. At the same time, SAC’s top ranks have been reaching out to investors to gauge whether they want to keep their money with the firm or not, the people briefed said.

Geithner’s Tenure Defined by Financial Crisis (NYT)
Looking back, he is remarkably sanguine. He is comfortable with his decisions: the policy choices available to him were far from ideal, he said, but his team did the best it could within the realm of the politically possible. “It was a very bad crisis. No playbook. No road map. No clear precedent,” he said. “If we had a different set of constraints, particularly in fiscal policy, then I think that the economic outcome could have been modestly better.”

Herbalife defends its honor as Ackman presses case (Reuters)
Herbalife Ltd executives defended their business on Thursday as a “legitimate company” with customers outside the network of people who sign up to sell its nutrition products, stepping up the defense against pyramid scheme accusations by short seller Bill Ackman…minutes after the company’s presentation ended, Ackman’s hedge fund claimed Herbalife did not answer Pershing Square’s points as it said it would. “The company distorted, mischaracterized, and outright ignored large portions of our presentation,” Ackman said in a statement.

British Panel Castigates Ex-UBS Officials at Hearing (Dealbook)
“What we have heard are appalling mistakes that can only be described as gross negligence and incompetence,” said Andrew Tyrie, a politician who leads the Parliament’s commission on banking standards that is investigating wrongdoing at the firms operating in London. “The level of ignorance seems staggering to the point of incredulity.”

Nicky Hilton’s ex to face off against alleged filching assistant (NYP)
Hedge funder Todd Meister — the ex-husband of Nicky Hilton — now has a courtroom Valentine’s date with his accused embezzling “personal” assistant. A Manhattan judge today set Feb. 14 as the trial date for the allegedly filching assistant, Ukranian beauty Renata Shamrakova, accused of swiping $900,000 from Meister. Prosecutors say Shamrakova had no authority to ring up the nearly $1 million in expenses on Meister’s credit card. Shamrakova counters that she was only hired in the first place to be Meister’s very personal assistant. Meister let her run up the card as a gift during the course of their romantic relationship, she says.

Wads Of Cash Squeeze Bank Margins (WSJ)
Deposits reached a record $10.6 trillion at the end of 2012, according to Market Rates Insight Inc., a San Anselmo, Calif., firm that tracks deposit data. Meanwhile, the share of each deposit dollar that banks lend out hit a postfinancial-crisis low in the third quarter, according to data tracker SNL Financial of Charlottesville, Va. Extra cash can help cushion banks in an economic downturn, but it also helps to explain why banks’ net interest margin—the sum they collect by pocketing the difference between the interest they pay to depositors and the rate they charge borrowers—has fallen sharply. Wells Fargo has been among the hardest hit in recent quarters, with its net interest margin falling to 3.66% in the third quarter from 3.84% a year earlier.

A Hawk Assails Easy Money (WSJ)
Esther George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, stepped forward as a new, high-profile internal critic of the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policies. Ms. George told an audience in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday that current Fed policies made her “uneasy” and warned that the Fed “must not ignore the possibility” that monetary policy could contribute to new bubbles that harm the financial system.

AmEx Cuts Jobs as Digital Age Transforms Travel Business (Bloomberg)
American Express Co. will eliminate 5,400 jobs this year, mostly in travel services, as consumers and businesses rely more on digital technology for bookings.

AC casinos were bad bet, with 8% revenue hit (NYP)
Hedge-fund high rollers who bet big on a comeback for Atlantic City’s casinos are watching their gambling profits dwindle. The city’s casino industry suffered its sixth straight decline last year, with winnings down 8 percent to $3.05 billion, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said in its latest annual report, released yesterday. Even before Sandy laid waste to the city’s famed boardwalk and emptied its casinos, the gaming industry was down 4.8 percent through September, the regulator said. The numbers suggest the odds are increasingly stacked against deep-pocketed backers who play a key role in reviving the city’s fortunes. They include Marc Lasry’s $12 billion Avenue Capital, a big investor in Trump Entertainment, which owns Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza. Lasry led a group of investors who brought Trump Entertainment out of bankruptcy in 2010. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn owns Tropicana Casino and Resorts, which he bought out of bankruptcy in 2010. Lasry’s Trump Taj Mahal saw casino winnings fall 15 percent last year, while Trump Plaza was down 25 percent, according to yesterday’s report. Icahn’s Tropicana fell 9.8 percent.

Lew’s Lack of Geithner Global Rolodex Not Biggest Hurdle (Bloomberg)
Geithner’s expertise ensured that his foreign counterparts would consider his views. Still, he was often frustrated that the euro area didn’t move more forcefully to fight its sovereign debt crisis. Geithner’s cause was undermined by the U.S.’s trillion-dollar deficits and infighting over the budget, according to some European officials. Lew, 57, will face the same hurdle if he is confirmed by the Senate. “There is nothing gained by having someone who has a Rolodex and knows everyone around the world,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “As the U.S. races to another cliff, its credibility is very small,” he said, referring to the budget disputes in Washington. Obama yesterday called Lew a “master of policy” in announcing that he will nominate his chief of staff to become the 76th U.S. Treasury secretary. Geithner will stay on through Jan. 25, according to a department official.

Man crashes into Lincoln Valentino’s restaurant, orders pizza (AP)
Lincoln, Nebraska police say a man crashed his car through the front door of a pizza restaurant before ordering a pie for himself. The man drove his Honda through a Valentino’s chain store Wednesday morning. While trapped in his car, the man ordered a pizza. Fire officials took it as a good sign that the man was alert. He was taken to a local hospital. No other injuries were reported. The building was not damaged structurally. No electrical or gas issues were reported.

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41 Responses to “Opening Bell: 01.11.13”

  1. Inner Matt Thoughts says:

    Trivial use of the work day is nothing new at DB. Bess spends most of her time entering online sweepstakes and calling into various local radio stations trying to win concert tickets. From time to time, I find myself cornering unsuspecting building maintenance employees and spending 45 minutes discussing in a very thorough manor, why I love Basel III. Then there is Shazar. He is by far the worst or should I say best at it. It is not uncommon for him to be on the phone with his doggie day care asking if he can speak to his Chihuahua. He also tends to lock himself into the bathroom for extended periods of time claiming he has the stomach flu. Then he takes his lunch and goes to work out. Now nothing unusual about that –except he often disappears for about 3 hours. I approached him one day in the break room, telling him he must be getting into really good shape spending so much time at the gym. He quickly replied that he doesn’t go to the gym to work out per se; rather he just likes to get a good steam in. I let what he said sink in for a moment, and then I thought to myself: Is Shazar that guy who sits naked in the corner of the sauna, not saying a word just smiling?

    • Lion dog says:

      But hey it was either this or the Greg Smith route.

    • Contestant Quant says:

      Have you made a chart yet calculating the NPV of Bess' time spent entering these sweepstakes and making these calls? You probably should, not only would it be very helpful to her, but I'd love to see what's more valuable, a 1 in 100 million shot at winning a large monetary amount or 1 in 5 shot at tickets to Emma Lasry's first concert.

    • WSJ Style Editor says:

      "very thorough m-a-n-n-e-r"

    • Laxbro says:

      I have to be honest, if I don't see anyone I know when I get to the gym, I'm inclined to steam, shower and go home. I remember when I used to care about pumping iron and whatnot, it was prep school. Everything since was just carry over. Anyways, these days the gym is full of 20-something clowns who can't give up the dream and are so bored in the monotony of their life that the athletic club is some escape for them to feel like the men they weren't in high school and college. Maybe one day my morning routine of a toasted bialy with regular cream cheese and venti, quad whole milk cappuccino will catch up to me, but it hasn't yet. Sometimes I'll fish for reassurance from whatever lucky lady I'm watching Friends reruns with and say, "I really need to start working out again." The last time I did that the smash puppy's response was, "Don't bother."

      • segoviacobain says:

        I was riding my fixed gear past the Herballife Distribution Center on Flatbush Avenue, on my way back to a squalid apartment and a tattooed hipster chick, when I thought to myself: I wonder what all those B school kids at work would say if they knew? Would they understand that I'd rejected the traditional objectives of those in the financial profession? Would they appreciate how my 100 dollar brooks brothers shirts looked in a hamper with my girlfriends hempwear and far too many stray chunks of IAMS? Could they ever possibly understand that my bathless bride was really my reaction to ten years of Carries Bradshaw? Perhaps they would appreciate my nonlinear approach to living, perhaps they'd have a name for that. A word flashed across the screen of my mind in bold red letters: "Douche".

        • Laxbro says:

          I'll gladly hold hands with cute "hipster" and "bohemian" chicks but I won't even talk to an authentic tatted up hipster chick that smells like hockey practice.

          • guest says:

            laxbro I appreciate your joie de vivre. who doesn't enjoy a spoiled nyu poser that sleeps until noon and listens to animal collective

          • segoviacobain says:

            I'm not sure if they are asking people to read Shakepesare's 'The Turtle and The Phoenix" in college anymore, laxbro, but there's some language in there regarding the sweet aroma of one's favorite lass in the throes of passion that is worth reviewing prior to your next pitch.

        • New Jersey says:

          Slow clap. The last line was brilliant.

        • What I do says:

          I usually do the 3 for $225 at BB

      • Worthwhile says:

        I just literally don't exchange glances or words with anyone, and hit the treadmill for three miles on 7.5 to 8.0. Few machines rapidly, then steam. ( once a week or so. )

        Preserves sense of well being as I drink heavily, sit there tensely staring at screens all day.

        The gym is in my building, so mostly older people.

  2. Chase Debit Card says:

    That's a nice credit limit Meister.

  3. Meister Meister says:

    Filching / felching, same diff / no diff.

    • Deposition says:

      Mesister: Initially I found Ms. Shamrakova quite fetching, then I discovered the felching. It was often after the fucking.

  4. VonSloneker says:

    Whew, for a second there I thought they were talking about me

    – Nikki Hilton's ex's felching assistant

  5. Guest says:

    Stamford, Conneticut police say a man crashed his car through the front door of a restaurant before ordering 3 pies for himself. The man drove his BMW through a Dominio's chain store Wednesday morning. While trapped in his car, the man ordered 3 pizzas. Fire officials took it as a good sign that the man was alert, and were surprised that the man was going to eat all 3 pizzas himself. He was taken to a local hospital as the while finishing off the last of the pizza. No other injuries were reported. The building was not damaged structurally. No electrical or gas issues were reported. The man is also asking if anyone would like to invest in an opportunity.

  6. James S. Cramer says:



    JIMBO <3

  7. qwestion says:

    McD's Shamrakova Shake is my favorite.

  8. Plasma Selling FICC says:

    I signed in, let them mark my small fingernail and began the 2 hour wait to sell my plasma. Today you get $40.00! I spent Thursday hydrating and this morning I had a nice breakfast so I should pass the blood sample tests easily. The place has been packed lately so it might be a 4 hour deal today. I see Frank and he gives me a wave and comes over. I met Frank a few weeks back while we were both waiting to be screened. He is a concrete contractor and the winter is a real slow period for his type of work. we are almost dressed in a similar manner. Scruffy clothes and worn out sneakers are preferable. I don't think Frank left his college ring at home like I did. He sees me checking my iPhone and mentions that he heard on TV that there are a lot of jobs in North Dakota in the oil fields. We talk about that and he wonders if he could sleep safely in his van in North Dakota winters. I tell him he ought to check online for job postings and he says he doesn't have a computer. I tell him to go to a library but I doubt if he will. He asks what's going on in the stock markets. I tell him that the market is relatively high compared to prior years and suggest he pay attention to the Baltic Freight Index and the S&P 500. He tells me that if he won the lottery he'd get his teeth fixed. The security guard comes in and tells the crowd watching ESPN on one of the flat screens in the room to "hold it down".

  9. 500 Hammers says:

    Why is Dylan Ratigan humping my ear?

  10. ex-Nebraskan says:

    I would pay $100 right now for a Valentino's Pizza. Runza gets all the national press, but those of us who left decades ago head straight to Valentino's when we're back for a football game.

  11. NakedShort says:

    Dont worry HerbaLife. Ive got your back!


  12. Joe Sixpack says:

    Maybe its time to talk to Chuck, he has ideas about glass and aluminum futures………

  13. Guest says:


  14. sohbet says:

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

  15. sohbet says:

    officers to investigate Blackstone's fishy financial transactions, but they wound up giving them