Opening Bell: 03.01.13

Congress Leaders To Meet With Obama As Budget Cuts Begin (Bloomberg)
Democrats and Republicans are in a standoff over how to replace the cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over nine years, $85 billion of which would occur in the remaining seven months of this fiscal year. Republicans reject Democrats’ call for higher taxes on top earners to replace part of the spending reductions. “Middle-class families can’t keep paying the price for dysfunction in Washington,” Obama said in a statement yesterday. The president has until 11:59 p.m. to issue the order officially putting the cuts into effect. “How much more money do we want to steal from the American people to fund more government?” Boehner said at a news conference in Washington yesterday. “I’m for no more.” The White House meeting follows the Senate’s rejection yesterday of a pair of partisan proposals to replace the spending reductions. No additional congressional action is planned before the start of the cuts, to be split between defense and non-defense spending.

Fiscal Pain to Be Parceled Out Unevenly (WSJ)
Economies in and around the nation’s capital are likely to feel the most pain. Federal spending accounts for about a fifth of the economic output of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, according to the Pew Center on the States. Other areas likely to be hit hard are Hawaii and Alaska, which have a heavy military presence, and states such as New Mexico, Kentucky and Alabama, which have major defense operations or substantial military contracting.

Struggling Groupon Ousts Its Quirky CEO (WSJ)
Mr. Mason didn’t return calls for comment. In a memo to employees that was by turns tongue-in-cheek and rueful, he said, “After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding—I was fired today.”

‘Girls’ Gone Under (NYP)
“Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis has put his video empire into bankruptcy in a bid to wiggle out of some $16 million in debt — most of it owed to casino magnate Steve Wynn. Wynn’s camp claims Francis owes closer to $30 million, including $2 million for unpaid gambling debts and $7.5 million in defamation damages. Wynn first hauled Francis to court to get him to pay the $2 million debt he racked up during a 2007 gambling binge. He sued again for defamation after Francis blabbed to gossip site TMZ that Wynn threatened to kill him and bury him in the desert. Wynn won two defamation awards for $7.5 million and $20 million, although the latter wasn’t listed in the Chapter 11 filing. Michael Weaver, a spokesman for Wynn Las Vegas, said the judgments are against Francis “personally” and not the company. “Consequently, these recent bankruptcy filings by the GGW companies will not slow our efforts to collect on our judgments against Mr. Francis,” he said.

New York Investigating Bank of America for Mortgages (Reuters)
Bank of America said in a securities filing on Thursday that the New York State Attorney General was investigating the bank over its purchase, securitization and underwriting of home loans.

SEC Scrutinizing Chesapeake Energy (WSJ)
The SEC notified Chesapeake in December that it was stepping up an informal inquiry into Aubrey McClendon’s ability to invest in wells that the company drills, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing. The agency has issued subpoenas for information and testimony to Chesapeake, the country’s second-largest natural-gas producer.

Mornings Not For Erin Burnett, Demanding Sizable Buyout (NYP)
Erin Burnett made her morning-show debut yesterday on CNN with Chris Cuomo for Pope Benedict XVI’s last day on the job. But it doesn’t mean she’s going to end up there permanently, sources tell The Post’s Michael Shain. It seems Burnett is digging in her high heels and refusing the new morning assignment. She has a clause in her contract that requires CNN to air her show in prime time. If new boss Jeff Zucker wants her to get up at 4 a.m., Erin is demanding a sizable chunk of cash — more than her $2.5 million salary — to buy her out of the prime-time clause. Insiders say Zucker believes she should be grateful she’s being offered a marquee job and he has started to look elsewhere for an anchor to partner with Cuomo. Burnett is telling her staff she doesn’t want to go to the morning. “What she means is she doesn’t want to go at the old price,” sniffed a source.

Druckenmiller Sees Storm Worse Than ’08 as Retirees Steal (Bloomberg)
Druckenmiller, 59, said the mushrooming costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with unfunded liabilities as high as $211 trillion, will bankrupt the nation’s youth and pose a much greater danger than the country’s $16 trillion of debt currently being debated in Congress. “While everybody is focusing on the here and now, there’s a much, much bigger storm that’s about to hit,” Druckenmiller said in an hour-long interview with Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg Television’s Market Makers. “I am not against seniors. What I am against is current seniors stealing from future seniors.” Druckenmiller said unsustainable spending will eventually result in a crisis worse than the financial meltdown of 2008, when $29 trillion was erased from global equity markets. What’s particularly troubling, he said, is that government expenditures related to programs for the elderly rocketed in the past two decades, even before the first baby boomers, those born in 1946, started turning 65.

Lloyds CEO Links Bonus To Stake Sale (WSJ)
Chief Executive António Horta-Osório said he is “very confident” U.K. taxpayers will get their money back, referring to the stake of about 40% the government took in the bank following a series of bailouts at the height of the crisis. He requested that his £1.49 million ($2.26 million) bonus only be paid if the government sells at least a third of its holdings in Lloyds at a share price above 61 pence. The average buy-in price for the U.K. government was 63.1 pence, according to U.K. Financial Investments, a body that manages the government’s stake in Lloyds.

Unemployment Worsens In Euro Zone (WSJ)
Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, said 11.9% of the euro zone’s workforce was unemployed in January, the highest percentage for the 17 countries that make up the currency bloc since records began in 1995. The figure is higher than the jobless rate of 11.8% in December.

Wilbur Ross: Italy Has Choice Of ‘Two Clowns’ (CNBC)
…in the wake of the unresolved Italian election, the WL Ross chairman said he’s worried the next leader of the economically-troubled nation is a choice of two clowns — former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and comedian Beppe Grillo. “One, an acknowledged clown, and one may be inadvertent clown. And until that gets resolved, there’s a great danger that the nice reforms that Mr. Monti put in will just get rolled back.”

Truck crashes on I-80 in Reno, spilling Heinz ketchup ‘everywhere’ (RGJ)
A tractor trailer carrying thousands of bottles of Heinz ketchup crashed on Interstate 80 near the Robb Drive overpass this afternoon, spilling its red contents onto the freeway and snarling traffic in the process. “I have red everywhere on the highway,” said Sgt. Janay Sherven with the Nevada Highway Patrol. “No bodies, no people, just ketchup.” There were no injuries in the accident, which happened when the driver of the semi-truck likely overcorrected to avoid another car while traveling eastbound, she said. The truck hit the center median and then knocked over a light pole that slashed open the left side of the trailer. As a result, thousands of bottles and cans of ketchup were splattered onto the road like a bad horror movie. ‘“The scene looks pretty bad as far as color goes,” Sherven said.

44 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (44)

  1. Posted by Very Spicey | March 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    Ate two Jack in the Box Hot Mess burgers last night. I can not stop shitting and will most likey shit myself seven ways to Sunday.

  2. Posted by guest | March 1, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    I want to see every orifice in that bottle flowing red.

    -GG

  3. Posted by B.Guest | March 1, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    Alleluia

  4. Posted by Guesti | March 1, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    I didn't even know Erin Burnett was still on TV

    - Relevance

  5. Posted by HotKarl | March 1, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Off camera, Burnett's boss Zucker had this to say about her not wanting the morning slot:

    'Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya'

  6. Posted by guest | March 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    "Congress Leaders To Meet With Obama As Budget Cuts Begin"

    Given the projected size of the deficit…They’re going to have to make more cuts than a Morgan Stanley MD on a thursday night if they're serious on balancing the budget.

    -UBS Captain Obvious Economist

  7. Posted by Fewdollarsmore | March 1, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Good thing it was ketchup that can only be confused for blood. What if it was mustard? Just the thought makes my nostrils squeeze.

  8. Posted by Deleveraging | March 1, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Two questions:

    Who let the Tampa Bay Sun subscription lapse? Morning Bell a little dull this week.

    Will there be a DB March Madness Bracket Pool again this year?

    - Guy who missed last year's deadline for submission

  9. Posted by Lloyd Christmas | March 1, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Hey, I guess they're right. Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose.

    Don't you go dying on me!

    - Lloyd

  10. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    A little sequestration never hurt anyone.

    -Orak Barama

  11. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    If your lame DB comment has a +1 and it was posted less than 5 min ago, I assume you're a back office loser I wouldn't acknowledge in real life. Then I down vote you.

    –Confession Bear

  12. Posted by Fewdollarsmore | March 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    She is on TV at an hour when traders are too drunk to know what's on.

  13. Posted by Anonymous | March 1, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Or mayo…

  14. Posted by Any Fin Pro | March 1, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Girls gone wild, gambling debts, death threats? Just another day in paradise…

  15. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    You are aware that bankers aren't exactly busy at all times during the day…

  16. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    What if you leave an idiotic comment that get's a shit ton of down votes?

  17. Posted by lazy and knows it | March 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Erin, how… saucy of you.

  18. Posted by zombie laxbro | March 1, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Why hate on the back office ?

  19. Posted by Bryce | March 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Agree. Up voting your own shit is a total clown move.

  20. Posted by Shazar | March 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Hey guys, just wanted to reach out and ask for some input on my posts.

    Thanks,

    Jon

  21. Posted by el invitado | March 1, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Warren Buffet buys Heinz, truck full of Heinz ketchup crashes… foreshadowing of how that's going to turn out?

  22. Posted by Fewdollarsmore | March 1, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    …where bankruptcy court is just another confession booth you go to get cleared of your corporate sins.

  23. Posted by Jorge | March 1, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Finnish professionals do have a reputation.

  24. Posted by NakedShort | March 1, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    maybe, maybe not

  25. Posted by Okay, Tough Guy | March 1, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    confession bear? even a "back office loser" wouldn't use a moniker that queer.

  26. Posted by Zuckers | March 1, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Erin loves it in the back orifice.

  27. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    I'm not here to pleasure anybody but myself.

    -Handsy

  28. Posted by Screw You, Stan! | March 1, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Hedge fund guy calls American seniors "thieves". Oh my fucking sides…….

  29. Posted by Copypasta | March 1, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    I might paste a reply.

  30. Posted by Gino | March 1, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    I might make pasta! You like pasta!

  31. Posted by Hobbes | March 1, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    In related news, the SEC is investigating the truck driver for suspicious behaviour related to the Berkshire aquisition of Heinz.

  32. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Oh my god, they killed the ketchup girl from yesterday!! Why would you do that!?! And post a picture?! You're sick!! I know Matt's mad about the Bloomberg thing, but what did she ever do to you?!?!

  33. Posted by farzip | March 1, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    I am interested in purchasing a copy of 'Girls Gone Under' or anything similar.

    Thank you.

  34. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Do you trust Shazar's planning?

  35. Posted by PermaGuestII | March 1, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    -J. Gundlach

  36. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Why not hate on the back office/

  37. Posted by NakedShort | March 1, 2013 at 11:49 AM
  38. Posted by Bored Guest | March 1, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Hopefully the SEC is rigorously reviewing put option trades leading up to the incident.

  39. Posted by Yawn | March 1, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Sequester started and market is flat, looks like firing a bunch of people who weren’t doing any work anyway will not affect the economy

    - Person who has been fired / seen enough people fired to know which jobs are essential

  40. Posted by InfiniteGuest | March 1, 2013 at 12:35 PM
  41. Posted by Fake TGFD | March 1, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    Don't go there . . .

  42. Posted by Jamie D. | March 1, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Which I'm richer than btw.

  43. Posted by Bongiorno | March 1, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    What about ketchup as marinaura sauce – whadda you say ? – Some Ketchup pasta huh

  44. Posted by Longer | March 1, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    gets