Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 01.30.13

MF Global’s Bankruptcy Nears Happy Conclusion (NYT)
On Thursday, a bankruptcy court will review a proposal that would return 93 percent of the missing money to customers like Mr. Desai, who lost his $580,000 nest egg in the brokerage firm’s chaotic final days. And the trustee who has submitted the proposal, James W. Giddens, has quietly identified a way that, if sent to the judge and approved, could plug the remaining shortfall for customers in the United States, according to people involved in the case. The broad push to make MF Global customers nearly whole, a goal now surprisingly within reach, is a remarkable turnaround from the firm’s 2011 bankruptcy filing when such a recovery seemed impossible. “I’m surprised that, magically, the money has shown up,” said Mr. Desai, a software account executive who, like most customers in the United States, has only 80 percent of his money. “I feel very relieved.”

Deutsche Bank Seen Missing Goldman-Led Gains on Cost Rise (Bloomberg)
Europe’s biggest bank by assets may post a loss of 210 million euros ($282 million) compared with a profit of 147 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2011, when it reports earnings tomorrow, according to the average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Goldman Sachs and three other leading U.S. investment banks saw their combined net income jump 92 percent annually to $9.73 billion in the period. Co-Chief Executive Officers Juergen Fitschen and Anshu Jain are eliminating staff and bolstering capital levels, the lowest among Europe’s biggest investment banks, in their first year in charge to help meet stricter capital rules. The costs countered a surge in trading revenue, spurred by the European Central Bank’s measures to stem Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. “Deutsche Bank is trying to look forward and hoping no one can really blame fourth-quarter losses on the new management as they only took over mid-year,” Andreas Plaesier, an M.M. Warburg analyst who recommends investors buy the shares, said by telephone from Hamburg. “It would rather see its earnings wrecked in one quarter and show it’s making progress on building capital.”

Chesapeake CEO To Exit (WSJ)
Chesapeake Energy Corp. Chief Executive Aubrey K. McClendon is leaving the company he built into the country’s second-biggest natural-gas producer, citing “philosophical differences” with a board of directors largely installed by shareholders to curb his risk-taking and free-spending ways.

Paul Singer Is a Backer of ‘Les Miserables’ (CNBC)
Singer writes in his investor note: “December marked the end of the ‘Beverly Boulevard II’ film slate submission period. We accepted the final two additional film submissions during the quarter, bringing our remaining funding commitment to seven films set for release in 2013 and 2014. One film in the slate, ‘Les Miserables,’ was released during the quarter. It will be several more weeks before we begin to have any reliable idea of the ultimate economic performance and value of the big-screen version of this huge stage hit, but early indications are promising and the film just garnered three major awards at this year’s Golden Globe Awards.” “Beverly Boulevard II” is run by Relativity Media and Elliott Management appears to be a large investor in the company, at least according to this 2010 article from Institutional Investor.

JPMorgan Bet Against Itself In ‘Whale’ Trade (Reuters)
It was widely known that a group of about eight credit-focused hedge funds, such as BlueMountain Capital Management and Saba Capital Management, were on the other side of the trades that JPMorgan’s London-based Whale team made on an index tied to corporate default rates. But the role JPMorgan’s own investment bank may have played in the messy unwinding of the derivatives trade has not come out until now. One of the three people familiar with the matter claimed that JPMorgan managers discussed merging the two sets of trades in an attempt to offset some of the CIO’s losses. Those talks ended about a month before Bloomberg News first reported the CIO trades on April 5 last year, the source said. JPMorgan’s Kristin Lemkau said that this “never came up in our exhaustive internal investigation.”

Police Say Man Steals Ambulance, Then Tries to Steal Horses (WHNT)
Police say it all began when Todd was arrested for DUI after a car crash. He was taken to Marshall Medical Center South for treatment. Police say while at the hospital, he walked out, got into a running ambulance and drove away. They say he later got the ambulance stuck on Barnard Street, but that was just the beginning. “He walked across a pasture and got into a barn where he tried to saddle up two horses,” says Boaz Assistant Chief Todd Adams. “One was two wild for him and the other he appeared to be too intoxicated to properly saddle the horse.” Police say Anderson then stole a car, which he crashed. They say he then stole another car and got away. However, on Saturday police say Anderson started bleeding from his original injuries. He sought treatment back at the hospital, was recognized and then arrested.

Fed Risks Losses From Bonds (WSJ)
The Federal Reserve could be charting a course that leaves the highly profitable central bank with no extra income to hand over to the U.S. Treasury for several years. That is the conclusion of five Fed staff economists who examined how the central bank’s bond-buying programs will affect its profitability over the long run. Right now the Fed is earning large returns on its bond portfolio and sending most of its profits to the Treasury. Several years from now, when the economy is stronger, the Fed is expected to sell bonds and raise short-term interest rates to tighten credit and restrain inflation. The group found the Fed might have to sell bonds at a loss and incur higher expenses on interest it pays to banks on the reserves they hold at the Fed.

Italy Scours Deals Abroad for Elusive Tax Revenue (WSJ)
Italy, which has one of the biggest tax-cheating problems in the developed world, is cracking down on suspect offshore investments as part of an unprecedented drive to find new sources of tax revenue and ease concerns about its €2 trillion ($2.69 trillion) in debt. The country just added a new property tax and is boosting its sales taxes to narrow its fiscal gap. In an effort to claw back an estimated €120 billion a year in unpaid taxes, it has limited cash payments to €1,000 so that untaxed money can’t slosh around the economy without leaving a paper trail and is hunting down people who buy luxury yachts yet report little income. One of the brightest spotlights is on companies suspected of earning money or shifting it abroad to avoid paying Italian taxes. Italy netted €600 million in additional taxes last year after prosecutors pursued two cases involving money stored illicitly to Switzerland.

NBA Union Chief Hunter Fires Family After Nepotism Report (Bloomberg)
Billy Hunter purged family members from roles in the National Basketball Association players union that he runs after a report that criticized nepotism at the organization. The moves dismissing personnel including his daughter and daughter-in-law were disclosed in a letter from Hunter to members of a special committee of players established prior to the investigation by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. A copy of the letter, dated Jan. 23, was obtained by Bloomberg News.

No Twinkies ‘Til September? (NYP)
While bankrupt Hostess Brands is expected to select a preferred bidder for its snacks business today, regulatory approval, time needed to close the deal and then the firing up of the Twinkies manufacturing process means it’ll be early September before the spongecake treats are available at retailers, experts said. Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management and co-bidder C. Dean Metropoulos, a veteran food exec, are expected to be named the preferred bidder for Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Donettes and other Hostess snacks.

Zimbabwe has $217 in the bank: finance minister (AFP)
After paying public workers’ salaries last week, the balance in cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s government public account stood at just $217, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said Tuesday. “Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 (left) in government coffers,” Biti told journalists in the capital Harare, claiming some of them had healthier bank balances than the state. “The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.” Biti said that left no choice but to ask the donors for cash. “We will be approaching the international community,” he said.

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58 Responses to “Opening Bell: 01.30.13”

  1. German lit quant says:

    “There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.”

  2. guest says:

    I was going to stay and fight it out. Then I saw Carl beat the crap out of that poor Jewish boy on the TV.

    – Aubrey

  3. Sarah Bernett says:

    Zimbabwe – my perfect entry point into managing Sovereign money!!!!

  4. Wyclef says:

    No Twinkies till September
    ………No Twinkies till September

  5. CwP&T says:

    Hi Matt/Bess,

    Can I make a suggestion? Would it be possible at the next DB speaking event that you two get on stage and sing Will Smiths “Just the Two of Us”? Then when the song is completed, you two can point at Shazar and fire him?


    Commintarists with pitchforks and torches

  6. guest says:

    I still don’t believe he’s not one of us.

    -The Tribe

  7. 444-4444 says:

    Hurt in a car? Call William Mattar! Hurt in a truck? Guess you're fucked!

  8. Guest says:

    Dealbreaker is like the new economy; it slowly feeds us a lower standard (site functionally/ he who will not be named) that we at first complained about, and then slowly accept.

  9. Short RIM says:

    Wow. Stuffy-looking guy with a German accent, the charisma of a wet paper towel, and a huge, mostly blank slideshow behind him is really getting me fired up to make the switch back to Blackberry.

  10. NakedShorts says:

    I heard Shazar's got a little baby schwartz

  11. Guest says:

    What about the Dazed and Confused guy who shat himself in the back of a cop car?

  12. guest says:

    "Zimbabwe has $217 in the bank: finance minister"

    If you guys are looking for a quick score, I'm looking for a driver. My last driver got picked up after eating his share of $65,000 in stolen chicken wings in one sitting.

    -Guy who wishes to remain nameless for obvious reasons but can be contacted via Twitter using hashtag #shortbuffalowildwings

  13. Guest says:

    As long as he is wearing a nice fresh pair of cotton underwear…..mmmmmmm

  14. Flo says:

    I slept like a baby last night…woke up every 2 hours screaming in the dark & then I shit my pants.

  15. VonSloneker says:

    Zimbabwe is broke and in need of cash, eh? A cunning plan takes shape in my mind…

    – The Ghost of Marcus Garvey

  16. Hobbes says:

    Little did they know, 'Les Miserables' was actually a display of foreshadowing towards the Argentinian government by Mr. Singer.

  17. SellingLow says:

    Dear Taco Bell,

    Fire your ad agency.


  18. Jon Edward Corzine says:

    Looking for some prospective titles for my memoir….

  19. Bejujular says:

    Wait so you're saying my bonus is larger than an entire nation's reserves? Well that certainly sounds good…

    -UBS VP

  20. Pimp Addy says:

    Sponsors posts make me want to kick puppies

  21. GeezerOilTrader says:

    Fucking energy company CEOS don't know a fucking thing about markets or risk in general. If I was the CEO for a fucking day here's what I'd do by example to help my CEO brethren around the energy and financial trading world: I'd fire every fucking investment banker we have and get 2 new ones. You don't need smoke up your old ass from bankers to tell you how long your dick "could get to be" if you keep "leveraging" it. The next thing I'd do is make any painty-waisted pitchbook pud-pulling peddlers work their way through the company's physical trading and marketing personnel before they get to me. I'd ban any financial house assholes from dealing with the company CFO because, most likely, our CFO person don't know shit about the risk in energy commodities because they ain't never had to trade the fucking shit. Go ask your fucking CFO what an "oil tank thief" is and he/she will probably have "Enron" as the first word out of their mouth and be wrong of course. And don't use JP Morgan as a reference on risk to me. Then I'd call in all our accounting and trading/marketing personnel and I'd say, "See these alligator clips attached to this here "deep cycle" trolling motor battery?? If you ever see me trading my own commodity account or dealing in energy commodities on the side you are hereby ordered with the right and obligation to this new demand that you grab me, strip me naked and attach one alligator clip to one of my manscaped nipples and the other to one of my hairy testicles and don't release them without having removed me the trading vehicles I stupidly got involved with with company money… or my ball starts to emit smoke, whichever comes first!! Fuckers!!
    Back in the 80s when we were grooving to "We Built This Tittie" by Jefferson Starplane, CEOs were just plain old dumbasses who we'd hire from the majors and they'd sit in their fucking office at lunch and eat soup and make benign decisions for the $5 million a year we paid them thinking we'd get a benefit out of them. Bastards!! Dipshits! Or they'd be like that asshole in the Carolinas who'd hire consultants to keep them out of bankruptcy and then fire them all with no bonus after the company was saved! The common fucking thing back then though is that those CEOs, dumbasses that they were, didn't get involved with all the FINANCIAL ASSHOLES who took advantage of their dumbassery and sold them on the fucking GODLIKE qualities of a CFO, usually their buddy, who understood "structured fucking finance". Thus, the end of COMMON FUCKING SENSE began in the energy and financial world and advanced degrees cancerously ate at at the trading world and now Dodd Frank is up all of our asses as a fucking result of all that intellectual capital. RATFUCKERS!!! I'm known around the trading floor as a blunt fucker and people who took out huge dumbass college loans to become an MBA/CFO/CEO will challenge your Geezer from time to time about the greatness of derivatives and personal vision and I tell them that if I want to listen to an asshole I'll just sit here and fart!!!

  22. mkng1 says:

    "Philosophical differences"? Is that similar to “colloquial” and not meant within “the legal definition”? I need to write these down for my next showdown with my wife.

  23. Missed Opportunity says:

    Shame about all those RIM jobs

  24. Borat says:

    We say in Kazakhstan that a horse is like a man. That if a horse is good it is like a man is good, and that if a horse is bad, is like a man is bad. And if a horse is hungry is like a man is hungry, and if a horse is sad is like if a man is sad. And we say if a horse is happy is like when a man is happy. We say if a horse is angry is like if man is angry. We say if a horse walk is like when a man walk. we say if a horse is old is like when a man is old, and we say if horse is young is like when a man is young. And the same we say if a horse is old is like when a man is old. And if a horse small, is like when a man's small. And if a horse is dead is like if a man dead. Also we say if a horse is sleep, goes to sleep like if a man sleep. And if horse wake if like if man wake, And if horse ill, is like if a man ill. If horse have foot is like man have foot. If horse on the grass is like if a man walk on grass. We say, in Kazakhstan is you hit horse it is like if you hit man. And we say if you kiss horse is like you kiss man."

    So we say horse is like man, do you understand?

  25. sohbet says:

    We say in Kazakhstan that a horse is like a man. That if a horse is good it is like a man is good, and that if a horse is bad, is like a man is bad. And if a horse is hungry is like a man is hungry, and if a horse is sad is like if a man is sad. And we say if a horse is happy where