Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 02.22.13

AIG Swings to Loss on Sandy Costs, Sale of Unit (WSJ)
AIG posted a loss of $3.96 billion, or $2.68 a share, compared with profit of $21.5 billion, or $11.31, a year earlier. Its life-insurance and retirement-services business earned $1.09 billion, up 20% from a year earlier. The company also said it would take a loss of about $4.4 billion on the planned sale of a 90% stake in the plane unit, International Lease Finance Corp. AIG’s full-year net income of $3.4 billion marked a sharp decline from the $20.6 billion profit the company posted for 2011, when it adjusted its balance sheet to reflect its expected use of more than $18 billion in tax benefits.

CFTC Sues CME Group, Alleging Trade-Data Leaks (WSJ)
U.S. regulators took aim at the world’s largest futures-exchange operator, accusing CME Group Inc. and two former employees of allegedly sharing details on clients’ trades with a commodities broker. The civil charges, leveled Thursday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, mark the first time the agency has sued CME in federal court. The case also highlights how regulators have responded to flagging confidence in the financial markets by scrutinizing more closely some of Wall Street’s central pillars: the exchanges. The CFTC charged a unit of Chicago-based CME and two former employees with disclosing private information about trading in its big energy markets to an outside party between 2008 and 2010 in return for meals and entertainment. CME said Thursday it would contest the charges. “Markets are too important for this [type of allegation] to be taken lightly,” Bart Chilton, a CFTC commissioner, said in an interview.

Citigroup bows to shareholder pressure, overhauls pay (Reuters)
Citigroup said on Thursday it has overhauled an executive pay plan that shareholders rejected last year as overly generous, revising it to tie bonus payments more closely to stock performance and profitability. The company also said it will pay new Chief Executive Mike Corbat $11.5 million for his work in 2012, in line with remuneration for his peers at other major banks. The new plan was crafted after board Chairman Michael O’Neill and other directors met with “nearly 20″ shareholders representing more than 30 percent of Citigroup stock, Citi said in a filing.

Watchdog Says LinkedIn paid no federal income tax over past three years (NYP)
The Mountain View, Calif., social network for professionals escaped the tax man because of a rule that allows companies to deduct expenses from employee stock awards, the watchdog, the Center for Tax Justice, told The Post. It’s a longstanding accounting trick that has spared many tech firms — including Amazon and Yahoo from 2009 to 2011 — from sharing any of their profits with the IRS, the CTJ said. “On $160 million profits over the last three years, LinkedIn paid zero federal income taxes,” said the CTJ’s Rebecca Wilkins. “The stock option deduction was big enough to wipe out all their taxes.”

Unemployment applications up 20,000 last week to 362,000 (AP)
The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 8,000 to 360,750, the highest in six weeks.

Trump Twitter Mystery! Who Hacked the Donald? (CNBC)
In what appears to be the latest in a minor wave of attacks on Twitter accounts belonging to out-sized corporate entities, an out-of-character tweet from Donald Trump’s verified account set the Internet abuzz, and then disappeared, shortly before noon ET on Thursday. “These hoes think they classy, well that’s the class I’m skippen,” read the suspect remark issued from @realDonaldTrump. It was a glaring non sequitur following tweets such as “Republicans must be careful with immigration—don’t give our country away,” and “Wow, Macy’s numbers just in-Trump is doing better than ever — thanks for your great support!” “Yes, obviously the account has been hacked and we are looking for the perpetrator,” Rhona Graff, senior vice president, assistant to the president of the Trump Organization, told NBC News via email. This confirmation was quickly echoed by Trump himself, in a tweet that read, “My Twitter has been seriously hacked — and we are looking for the perpetrators.”

UBS to Trade Equity Swaps in China in Structured-Product Push (Bloomberg)
Chinese regulators last month decided to allow UBS to trade total return swaps, Thomas Fang, the bank’s managing director for equities derivatives sales for Asia, said in a phone interview. The bank will use the derivatives to create structured products tied to local stocks, with plans to boost the size of its staff in the country for the business, Fang said. The China Securities Regulatory Commission’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a faxed request for confirmation.

A Tax That May Change The Trading Game (NYT)
The tax would be tiny for investors who buy and hold, but could prove to be significant for traders who place millions of orders a day. Under the proposal, a trade of shares worth 10,000 euros would face a tax of one-tenth of 1 percent, or 10 euros. A trade of a derivative would face a tax of one-hundredth of 1 percent. But that tax would be applied to the notional value, which can be very large relative to the cost of the derivative. So a credit-default swap on 1 million euros of debt would have a tax of 100 euros, or about 0.4 percent of the annual premium on such a swap.

On Currencies, What’s Fair Is Hard to Say (WSJ)
What’s the fair value of a euro? That depends on whether the answer comes from Berlin or Paris. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday weighed in on what the currency should be worth, saying the euro’s exchange rate is “normal in the historical context.” French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici had a different take earlier this month, calling the euro “perhaps too strong.” Economists say Ms. Merkel is right—technically. The euro’s buying power is roughly where it should be, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which judges currencies based on countries’ current-account balance. But others caution Germany’s relatively robust economy props up the euro’s value; if weaker countries like Spain or Italy still had their own currencies, they’d be worth much less.

Singapore GDP Growth Beats Initial Estimate as Asia Recovers (Bloomberg)
Gross domestic product rose an annualized 3.3 percent in the three months through December from the previous quarter, when it shrank a revised 4.6 percent, the Trade Ministry said in a statement today. That compares with a January estimate of 1.8 percent and the median in a Bloomberg News survey for a 2 percent expansion.

KFC employee fired for making out with boob-shaped mashed potatoes (DD)
A KFC employee in Tennessee is out of a job after photos of the culprit making out with a plate of mashed potatoes ended up on Facebook. The mashed potatoes, which were apparently not served to some unknowing customer, had been arranged into the shape of a woman’s boob. In the photos, the former employee can be found licking what we’d have to consider the underboob of the mashed potato mammary before throwing it into an oven. The photo became public information when it showed up on the Facebook page for Johnson City, Tenn., news channel WJHL, where it was shared 2,000 times and received more than 700 comments. Once the news organization was able to determine its locational origin—the KFC on North Roan Street—the suspected employee was terminated. KFC spokesman Rick Maynard confirmed the firing but would not name the culprit because that “wouldn’t be appropriate.” He stressed that the employee who took the photos is no longer with the company. “Nothing is more important to KFC than food safety,” he wrote to WJHL. “As soon as our franchisee became aware of the issue, immediate action was taken.

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62 Responses to “Opening Bell: 02.22.13”

  1. guest says:

    "KFC employee fired for making out with boob-shaped mashed potatoes"

    So Howie Hubler blows up MS, doesn't get fired and gets millions of dollars while a minimum wage worker gets fired immediately for arranging food a certain way that doesn't harm anyone or break any laws. Got it.

    -Trader who def isn't part of the OWS crowd but is afraid that it's now open season on the short order cook at DENN who arranged his grits in the shape of a butt.

  2. Class Pedant says:

    “My Twitter has been seriously hacked…"

    Whimsically seems more accurate.

  3. Bored Guest says:

    UBS + structured products + China = ?

  4. GIRLS! says:

    Lena Dunham fired for making out with boob-shaped mashed potatoes, calling it art

  5. J. Corzine says:

    That KFC employee should be arrested for what he did.

  6. Attention Please says:

    Just wanted to drop a little PSA. I was in the market for some new loafers for work. So, I checked the typical style sites and online stores, etc. I also checked YouTube. Well YouTube is where the PSA comes in because the site does have videos of loafers and guys wearing them, but they are apparently fetish videos. Now I am new to this fetish, and from what I understand guys like to jack off to people breaking in loafers. Which makes me think that although I enjoy wearning a nice pair of loafers, I am actually giving some creepy dude some grade A wanking material. Makes you stop and think about how fucked up the world is sometimes.

  7. Ronald Dump says:

    Hey Twittah, yooor fired!

  8. Caleb says:

    Come one! I got 4 monitors at my workstation and a Bloomberg keyboard. I am ready for an intense Opening Bell. You better believe I have french cuffs on right now and I'm only an Analyst.

  9. Flashback Analyst says:

    I'm less likely to believe Trump's twitter was hacked and more likely to believe he was just getting creative in his shots at Obama

    – Guy who remembers Trump's other racist twitter shots at Obama

    • guest says:

      Please elaborate on the claims of racism in Trump's tweets.

      • Flashback Analyst says:

        Constantly accusing a black president of being born in Kenya in the face of overwhelming evidence is racist as fuck.

        • Guest says:

          That's opinion, not racism

        • guest says:

          Accusing someone of being born in another country and lying about it to be eligible to run for president, whether true or not is not racism. Let me elaborate, because you were probably brainwashed growing up by the fellow travelers that infiltrated the discourse in this country's educational and media outlets, saying negative things about someone of a different race is not automatically racism.

          • Flashback Analyst says:

            Obviously saying negative things about a person of another race is not racism, no one said it is. Assuming a black guy must have been born in Africa because he's black is racist, as is saying he's not viable for the presidency because he must have been born in Africa because he's black. Vehemently defending his assumption despite literally zero evidence it's true AND overwhelming evidence to the contrary in this case is a tell tale sign it's grounded in racism and not in reason.

            Also I feel it's important to point out before this goes any further I'm not pro-Obama, I'm anti-Trump.

          • guest says:

            Trump is probably not a racist…he's just a huge attention whore and likely doesn't believe half the "birther" shit he claims to.

            That said, I'll go out on a limb and say your average redneck who goes around professing Obama was born in Kenya is prettayyy likely to hold some racist views too.

      • Wig Party says:

        Shut up, Donald.

  10. E. Texas Gas Trader says:

    So the mashed potato tittie story comes from a site referred to as (DD)?

  11. Hobbes says:

    Currently seeking applicants who speak mandarin, aspire to drive Honda Accords, and like gambling on losing odds.

    – UBS China HR

  12. Quant me maybe says:

    Matt:

    A seminal, or maybe seamenal, study has just been published on porn stars (and it's safe for work). Now, one striking chart correlates the use of the word, butt and boobs in the title of the movie. I think that you will concur, then, that the financial crisis was actually caused by an increase in the frequency of the word 'butts' in the title:

    <img src="http://jonmillward.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/butts-versus-boobs-large.jpg"/&gt;

    As you can see, the overuse of the word butts, and not deriviatives of the housing market bubble caused the crash.

    here's the full study:
    http://jonmillward.com/blog/studies/deep-inside-a

    — a concerned investor.

  13. Guest says:

    Who is your CF(luffer)O?

    -Waters

  14. Shrawan says:

    Despite the usual attitudes in the comments this morning, there's a great pic of Rihanna and Kate Moss over on Fashionista! Have an excuse ready in case a superior walks by while you're looking at it.

    -Geezer Oil Trader's New Assistant

  15. B. Melrose says:

    Two days without a Glens Falls story in the Bell? Seacrest out

  16. General Electric says:

    Watchdog Says LinkedIn paid no federal income tax over past three years:

    "“On $160 million profits over the last three years, LinkedIn paid zero federal income taxes,” said the CTJ’s Rebecca Wilkins. “The stock option deduction was big enough to wipe out all their taxes.”"

    Is that all you got? Amateurs.

    -GE

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