• 11 Feb 2013 at 7:30 AM

Opening Bell: 02.11.13

Two Firms, One Trail, In Probe Of Ratings (WSJ)
The Justice Department last week went after Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services—not rival Moody’s Investors Service —with a $5 billion fraud lawsuit. Some former Moody’s employees think they know why. The Moody’s Corp. unit took careful steps to avoid creating a trove of potentially embarrassing employee messages like those that came back to haunt S&P in the U.S.’s lawsuit, the former employees say. Moody’s analysts in recent years had limited access to instant-message programs and were directed by executives to discuss sensitive matters face to face, according to former employees. The crackdown on communications came after a 2005 investigation by then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer into Moody’s ratings on some mortgage-backed deals, the former employees say. Former employees also point to an April 2001 settlement between Moody’s and the Justice Department’s antitrust division over the destruction of documents amid a civil inquiry by the agency. Moody’s pleaded to one count of obstruction of justice and paid a fine of $195,000. Moody’s called that situation “an isolated incident” and said it cooperated with the Justice Department’s investigation. That settlement helped lay the groundwork for heightened concerns about sensitive documents, former Moody’s employees say.

Credit Rating Victims Didn’t Know S&P’s Toxic AAA Born of Greed (Bloomberg)
When Charles O. Prince III was chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc. from 2003 to 2007, he didn’t know about a surge in mortgage risk that his own investment bankers loaded on to its bank’s books. Because such debt carried top credit ratings from firms such as Standard & Poor’s, few financial executives paid attention to the potential dangers. When Charles O. Prince III was chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc. from 2003 to 2007, he didn’t know about a surge in mortgage risk that his own investment bankers loaded on to its bank’s books. Because such debt carried top credit ratings from firms such as Standard & Poor’s, few financial executives paid attention to the potential dangers.

Makeover At Barclays Won’t Be Extreme (WSJ)
Mr. Jenkins’s cuts are likely to be focused on areas where Barclays lags far behind competitors, executives say. That could include parts of the equities sales-and-trading businesses in Asia and continental Europe, according to analysts and people at other banks. Those are businesses in which Mr. Diamond spearheaded an ambitious expansion but where Barclays remains a second-tier player. But other changes are driven more by polishing the bank’s tarnished image than they are by the need to boost profits. A few business lines that don’t seem “socially useful” are likely to end up on the chopping block, executives say. For example, Barclays plans to retreat at least in part from the lucrative trading of “soft commodities” such as coffee, executives say. That is a concession to mounting criticism that speculative trading in those commodities contributes to food-price inflation. “We’re a big player, but does it pass the smell test of what society would think of this?” a senior executive said. Mr. Jenkins is also expected to trumpet plans to dramaticallyscale back Barclays’s tax-planning business, in which it advises clients on how to minimize their tax burdens. The bank will no longer help clients put together transactions that have no businesspurpose other than reducing taxes. “Such activity is incompatible with our purpose,” Mr. Jenkins will say on Tuesday, according to the extract of his speech. But the bank isn’t expected to exit the business altogether. It will continue to offer tax-minimizing advice. People familiar with the matter say the business has been hiring employees recently.

Putin Turns Black Gold Into Bullion as Russia Out-Buys World (Bloomberg)
Not only has Putin made Russia the world’s largest oil producer, he’s also made it the biggest gold buyer. His central bank has added 570 metric tons of the metal in the past decade, a quarter more than runner-up China, according to IMF data compiled by Bloomberg. The added gold is also almost triple the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

White House Warns Coming Austerity Will Hit Economy Hard (Reuters)
Automatic government spending cuts due to go into effect March 1 unless Congress acts to prevent them would bite deeply into programs affecting many Americans, such as law enforcement, small business assistance, food safety and tax collection, the White House said on Friday. The administration urged Congress to blunt the effect of the reductions, which the White House said would slash non-defense programs by 9 percent across the board and defense programs by 13 percent, the White House said. “These large and arbitrary cuts will have severe impacts across the government,” the administration said in a statement.

World’s most prolific stripper calls it a day (DM)
For two decades, the Liverpudlian father-of-three has been the Usain Bolt of the naked dash. In 1995, he leapt naked on to Fred Talbot’s weather map on daytime TV show This Morning, and a year later he appeared nude on the green during the Open at Royal Lytham. Then, in 2004, he was fined £550 for trespassing after streaking across the pitch at the Super Bowl in Texas – a match watched by 130 million people in 87 countries. For good measure, Mark has also stripped off at Wembley, Wimbledon and Ascot. ‘There’s no major venue or event I haven’t done,’ he says proudly. ‘But I’m nearly 49 now and my children have begged me to stop. It’s time. I’m not ready for my slippers just yet, but gravity’s against me.’

Treasury Pick Lew Faces Grilling on Citi Bonus, Cayman Account (Reuters)
Jack Lew, President Barack Obama’s pick to be U.S. treasury secretary, is expected to come under fire for the administration’s budget policies and a nearly $1 million bonus he received from bailed-out bank Citigroup when he testifies on Wednesday before a Senate panel vetting him for the job. The hearing will briefly become ground zero in the pitched political battle over the federal budget, with Republicans set to attack over what they contend is Lew’s devil-may-care attitude to reducing the U.S. budget deficit. “He’ll be used as a political ping-pong ball,” said Ted Truman, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics who served briefly as an adviser to Obama’s former treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner.

Treasury Eases Off On Bank Rules (WSJ)
The proposal, which will be subject to comment before becoming a final rule, is likely to insist that financial institutions gather beneficial ownership information—who is in charge and who profits—on new corporate accounts, officials said. But in a move that could assuage some industry concerns, financial institutions wouldn’t have to vet that ownership data for accuracy. Instead, they would rely on the customer to vouch for the information.

With a Focus on Its Future, Financial Times Turns 125 (NYT)
On Wednesday, The F.T. is celebrating its 125th birthday. The newspaper’s London headquarters along the south bank of the Thames will be lit up in pink, the color of the paper on which it has been printed since shortly after it was founded. There will be a few parties — understated, of course, for these are straitened times in the City of London, and challenging ones for the newspaper industry.

Waxing Our Way To The ER (Salon)
A new study from the University of California-San Diego reveals that “Emergency room visits due to pubic hair grooming mishaps,” including “lacerations,” increased fivefold between 2002 and 2010, sending an impressive 11,704 pube-scapers to the E.R. The culprits? Scissors and hot wax did some of the damage, but plain-old non-electric-razors accounted for the lion’s share, at 83 percent…The study also revealed that below-the-belt grooming isn’t just for adult ladies anymore – men accounted for 43.3 percent of the injuries, and almost 30 percent of them were girls under the age of 18. To avoid becoming yet another harrowing grooming gone bad statistic, the researchers advise hair removal aficionados to “Pay attention to where you’re placing that razor. Invest in a non-slip bath mat. And don’t shave while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

54 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (54)

  1. Posted by Guest | February 11, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    That's the opening bell for today? Really? So nothing else of relevance happened…

  2. Posted by Guesti | February 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    Look at the sick puppy at the Journal making a two girls one cup reference…

  3. Posted by kouwanus | February 11, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    That's what is known as a Shaz fail.

    -Pope Gregory of DB

  4. Posted by This is relevant | February 11, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    We managed to perform worse than before

    -UBS

  5. Posted by ThirdTime'sACharm | February 11, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    When Charles O. Prince III was chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc. from 2003 to 2007, he didn’t know about a surge in mortgage risk that his own investment bankers loaded on to its bank’s books. Because such debt carried top credit ratings from firms such as Standard & Poor’s, few financial executives paid attention to the potential dangers.

  6. Posted by Guestalt | February 11, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Jon,

    Please read and tell us what is Shaztarded about this paragraph:

    When Charles O. Prince III was chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc. from 2003 to 2007, he didn’t know about a surge in mortgage risk that his own investment bankers loaded on to its bank’s books. Because such debt carried top credit ratings from firms such as Standard & Poor’s, few financial executives paid attention to the potential dangers. When Charles O. Prince III was chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc. from 2003 to 2007, he didn’t know about a surge in mortgage risk that his own investment bankers loaded on to its bank’s books. Because such debt carried top credit ratings from firms such as Standard & Poor’s, few financial executives paid attention to the potential dangers.

  7. Posted by Shaz the Magnificent | February 11, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    What's the problem?
    What's the problem?

  8. Posted by Guestalt | February 11, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    " below-the-belt grooming isn’t just for adult ladies anymore"

    <Insert obligatory Gundlach joke here>

    - Fan of original uses of DB memes

  9. Posted by Little Fritz | February 11, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    If you're a 49 year old guy and still streaking, it isn't only your kids that are begging you to stop.

  10. Posted by guest | February 11, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    I'm a peacock, you gotta let me fly!!!!

    -V. Putin

  11. Posted by Guest | February 11, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    Two firms, one trail, a treasure trail leading from the belly button down to the pubic mane, which they followed until they struck paydirt, the kind you gobble on until the Dancing Bear party gets shut down.

  12. Posted by Guest | February 11, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Based upon his appearance this morning on CNBC, McCulley wasn't one of those making a trip to the ER due to a shaving accident.

  13. Posted by Colorado | February 11, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Knowing the state of Cali, they will will now spend $4.2 million dollars testing how many drinks a guy can have before it is simply too dangerous for him to shave an u18 year old girls vagina while not standing on a non-slip bath mat.

  14. Posted by guest | February 11, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    "The added gold is also almost triple the weight of the Statue of Liberty..And roughly the weight of Chris Christie"

  15. Posted by guest | February 11, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    The test was inconclusive and $300 million over budget.

  16. Posted by quant me maybe.. | February 11, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    After doing the butterfly for 15 miles up the Volga, President Putin did his morning cool-down by riding his grizzly, at full run, back down to his original staring point where he proceeded to deflower 6 Ukranian virgins.

    <img src="http://2.cdn.tapcdn.com/images/thumbs/taps/2013/02/high-fives-14-de4ffeb8-sz500x278-animate.jpg"/&gt;

  17. Posted by guest | February 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    You’re a tumbling tumbling dickweed.

  18. Posted by VonSloneker | February 11, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Three lady libertys worth of gold for Russia…listen for the sound of Zerohedge's servers exploding.

    - T. Durden

  19. Posted by two buck chuck | February 11, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    As long as the music is playing you gotta get up and dance.

  20. Posted by InfiniteGuest | February 11, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Man's name is Chuck Prince.

  21. Posted by Shaznam | February 11, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    They don't know how to shaze their pubes ?

  22. Posted by Flarky | February 11, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Is Putin actually the Great Zohan?

  23. Posted by Acceptance on DB | February 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    I disagree with your lifestyle, but I am glad you found a hobby.

    Acceptance on DB

  24. Posted by WTF__k | February 11, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    That p-shop is excellent/hilarious. I regret that I have only a single thumbs-up to give.

  25. Posted by Hot in Hurrrrrrrr | February 11, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Tell me you dont need to be a world leader to have pec's like that at 60!

  26. Posted by Guest | February 11, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Worst set of comments since… Oh wait never mind there is a picture of Vladimir Putin on a bear.

    Carry on.

  27. Posted by Alt_EST | February 11, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Executives not knowing that AAA ratings came about because of greed is like a chief surgeon not knowing that you breathe to get oxygen.

  28. Posted by JohnnyTwoTimes | February 11, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    I'm going to go get the papers, get the papers.

  29. Posted by Where are they? | February 11, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Some comments disappear early in the mornings. Some don't. The site has been hacked by a jealous editor.

  30. Posted by Mike Larson | February 11, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    <img src="http://Now.apparelbookstore.info/rest.jpg"/&gt; but probably not the worst so far.

  31. Posted by guerst | February 11, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Since when and how did Shazar get his articles "Sponsored" and in a blue box?

  32. Posted by VonSloneker | February 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    You like what you see?

    - Voldemort with Moobs

  33. Posted by Impressed | February 11, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Stealing the show perhaps?

  34. Posted by SEC Stats Guy | February 11, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Probably time for some federal assistance

  35. Posted by Z. Kouwe Shazar | February 11, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Hey!

  36. Posted by Shazar's Mom | February 11, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    It was a belated birthday present.

  37. Posted by PermaGuestII | February 11, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Last time they shot the Czar, this time they're trying to drown him?

  38. Posted by PermaGuestII | February 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Ayep.

    -Guy in New Haven under 4' of snow

  39. Posted by Monthly Payment | February 11, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    I didn't realize that Putin worked on Wall Street, nor that he would have to write about it to the NYT.

  40. Posted by Guest | February 11, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    In Soviet Russia, fly butters you

  41. Posted by dec 32 put fly | February 11, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    the other one is working on yur partner huh

  42. Posted by Fort Lee Baller | February 11, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    He was intimidated when Merkel started swimming in a thong on state visits and didn't know where else to turn for advice.

  43. Posted by Guest | February 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Shut up, fool.

  44. Posted by BNY Mellon | February 11, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    See how stuffing anchovies down your pants will affect the Nikkei

  45. Posted by Guest | February 11, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Ctrl + c, Ctrl + v, Ctrl + c, Ctrl + v

  46. Posted by Trinidad James | February 11, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Pope resigns. Ackman questions golden parachute.

  47. Posted by Teddy R | February 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Seems reasonable…

    -Man in the Arena

  48. Posted by Quant me maybe | February 11, 2013 at 12:43 PM
  49. Posted by guest | February 11, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    What a magnificent beast! The bear isn't too shabby either.

  50. Posted by VonSloneker | February 11, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Y'all didn't know Mr. T was a ZH reader?

    - B.A. Baracus

  51. Posted by derek | February 11, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    … no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied along the way, just so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied and dying along the way

  52. Posted by Guest | February 11, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Fucking Russian amateurs.

    - S McDuck

  53. Posted by St. Peter, CFA | February 11, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    His exit interview graded his performance a See.

  54. Posted by lucas | February 11, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    What are Ukrainian virgins?
    - CEE virginity quant