Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 12.12.13

Banks Speeding Asia Promotions Doubles Rate of Pay Raises (Bloomberg)
Ang Eng Siong, 33, has been promoted every year since he completed Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.’s management associate program in 2010, when he was put in charge of two older, higher-ranked colleagues. “My team members were all a lot more experienced in that particular role,” said Ang, now a vice-president of corporate treasury in Singapore under the chief financial officer. “An opportunity to manage an important project would be rare so they wanted just to give me the exposure.” Banks and companies across Asia are putting local employees like Ang on a fast track to senior roles to counter a dearth of management expertise in the region and to deter staff from being poached by rivals. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. opened its first leadership academy outside of Korea in Singapore in October, following companies from OCBC to Unilever Plc. that have spent millions on training institutes in the region. “Talent is in short supply and secondly businesses are growing faster than people can grow,” said John Nolan, Singapore-based senior vice president of human resources for global markets at Unilever. “One way to fill that talent shortage is to accelerate the rate of readiness of your people.” He said the company’s philosophy is to try to promote employees in emerging markets faster than the five to six years it takes globally to move up a level.

Criminal Action Is Expected for JPMorgan in Madoff Case (Dealbook)
JPMorgan Chase and federal authorities are nearing settlements over the bank’s ties to Bernard L. Madoff, striking tentative deals that would involve roughly $2 billion in penalties and a rare criminal action. The government will use a sizable portion of the money to compensate Mr. Madoff’s victims. The settlements, which are coming together on the anniversary of Mr. Madoff’s arrest at his Manhattan penthouse five years ago on Wednesday, would fault the bank for turning a blind eye to his huge Ponzi scheme, according to people briefed on the case who were not authorized to speak publicly.

For No. 2 at Fed, White House Favors Central Banker in the Bernanke Mold (NYT)
Stanley Fischer, the former governor of the Bank of Israel and a mentor to the Federal Reserve’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, is the leading candidate to become vice chairman of the Fed, according to former and current administration officials. If nominated, and then confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Fischer, 70, would succeed Janet L. Yellen, whom President Obama nominated to succeed Mr. Bernanke as the Fed’s leader when his term ends in January. Mr. Fischer is at once a surprising choice and a popular pick among economists and investors. He is a highly regarded economist with significant policy-making experience, yet many had considered his selection improbable because of his recent service in a foreign government.

Manchester United Faces Doubter in the Market (Dealbook)
The British soccer team Manchester United has made a poor showing on the field this season. Now the British hedge fund manager Crispin Odey is making a multimillion-dollar bet that the club’s New York-listed shares are destined for a similar trajectory. Odey Asset Management, Mr. Odey’s fund, has taken a $22 million short position against Manchester United shares. Mr. Odey’s bet pits him against several investors who remain strong supporters of the team. George Soros has a 5.3 percent stake, and GLG, a division of the world’s biggest hedge fund, Man Group, has a 2.2 percent stake.

Kama Sutra cookie cutters set to raise bakers’ temperatures (Daily Mail)
The £17.99 set includes four raunchy positions to recreate in dough, including the naughtily-named ‘Baking From Behind’ and ‘Very Well Risen’ designs. Each cookie cutter depicts two gingerbread men/women positioned in a different sex act found in the ancient erotic manual the Karma Sutra…The instructions read: ‘Simply prepare your favourite type of cookie dough, cut out your shapes and then turn your oven into a sordid little dungeon of carnal pleasure. Whilst you furiously beat the dough, squirt the icing and grab yourself a nice big rack to cool your cookies on, you can think up all sorts of hilarious baking double entendres.’

Budget Deal Picks Up Steam (WSJ)
Few lawmakers expressed enthusiasm for the narrowly focused agreement reached by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and his Senate counterpart, Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.), to ease the effect of across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. But lawmakers from both parties predicted that bipartisan desire to call a cease-fire in Congress’s budget wars would carry the bill through the House and into the Senate next week. “If you are for more deficit reduction, you are for this agreement,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). Mr. Boehner was in part responding to complaints from conservative groups that the bill does too little to curb government spending. GOP leaders pointed out it would reduce the deficit over the next decade, while allowing roughly $62 billion more in spending on military and domestic programs in the current and next fiscal years. Mr. Boehner lambasted groups such as Heritage Action that had criticized the deal before it was even unveiled, signaling a hard push against opposition from the political right. “They are using our members, and they are using the American people for their own goals,” said Mr. Boehner, speaking to reporters after a closed door GOP meeting. “This is ridiculous.” Many Democratic leaders were noncommittal, because they were disappointed the deal didn’t include a renewal of expanded unemployment benefits due to expire Dec. 28. Still, even those inclined to oppose it predicted the budget deal would pass. “A colleague of mine said, ‘I’m going to hold my nose and vote yes.’ Another said ‘I feel like punching myself in the face, but I’ll vote yes,’ ” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.). “It’s a tough vote for many of us.”

Jeter impresses at Morgan Stanley event (NYP)
Derek Jeter chatted up the more than 400 guests at an event hosted by the investment bank’s wealth management group, which is sponsoring Jeter’s charitable Turn 2 Foundation. Sources tell The Post that, at the luncheon event at Chelsea Piers’ Lighthouse, Jeter participated in a panel discussion about leadership along with Morgan Stanley wealth management honcho Greg Fleming. Drawing parallels between high-stakes finance and baseball, the Yankee’s shortstop told attendees — who munched on shrimp, bass fillets and steak — that “you have to have a moral compass,” an attendee said.

Tortuous Business Meeting? Tech Is Here to Help (WSJ)
In the annals of corporate history, there must have been at least one or two business meetings in which participants remained on topic, where the whole thing didn’t devolve into an endless, soul-suckingly pointless free-for-all of tossed-together thoughts that will never amount to anything. Yet for the life of me I can’t recall ever having participated in such a wondrous thing.

Morgan Stanley sets sale of U.S. oil terminal business (Reuters)
Morgan Stanley has launched a formal effort to sell its controlling stake in U.S. oil terminal and transport business TransMontaigne, four sources said on Wednesday, following other Wall Street powerhouses in yielding to intense regulatory pressure to get out of commodity investments. The bank has started circulating preliminary information about the assets it could sell, which include the general partner of master limited partnership TransMontaigne Partners LP, the sources said. One source said the offer also included a handful of assets outside the MLP. The sale process appears to be Morgan Stanley’s first definitive step toward disassembling its vast energy trading group, after a more than year-long informal effort failed to find a buyer or partner for the whole operation.

George W. Bush sends letter of encouragement to Alabama kicker Cade Foster (AL)
Foster posted the following letter from George W. Bush on his Instagram and Twitter accounts. It reads: “Dear Cade (#43), Life has its setbacks. I know! However you will be a stronger human with time. I wish you all the best- Sincerely- another 43 George Bush”

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20 Responses to “Opening Bell: 12.12.13”

  1. Guest says:

    I'm gonna need those cookie cutters.
    -Jeff "naughty little ginger man" gundlach

  2. Guest says:

    God I wish 43 had offered to paint Cade as part if his new career as an artist.

    • Guest says:

      Draw me like one of your French girls.

      • Guest says:

        “The Tonight Show” host revealed the artistic skills of George W. Bush when the former president visited Tuesday in his first late-night show appearance since leaving office. The 43rd president said he took up painting as a hobby after reading a Winston Churchill essay on the subject. He eventually hired an art teacher to help bring out his talent.

        “She said, 'What's your objective?' I said, ‘There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body. Your job is to find it,'" Bush said to laughter.

      • Frost says:

        All us whiteys should start playing knockout, think it would make front page and Shazar would run the story for a month.

  3. Guest says:

    I'm gonna need those cookie cutters.

  4. NakedShort says:

    Buzz, your gingerbread people. WOOF!!

  5. Maria says:

    Should we talk about the financial strength of JP Morgan? The company continues to churn out tens of billions of dollars in earnings and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. How do you criticize that?

  6. Guest says:

    I can't imagine what tantric act is taking place on the lower half of Mr. Gingerbread in that pic.

  7. PermaGuestII says:

    Surprised there's no mention of SMU Secure's latest sighting:

  8. Guest says:

    I am so going to bake on of these, stretching, with lululemon pants on.

  9. Rebecca M. says:

    When our athletes are feeling a bit down, I find cupping their balls whilst sucking, helps them rise to the occasion.