Opening Bell: 02.03.14

Rate Decision to Drive Yellen’s Early Agenda (WSJ)
Among Ms. Yellen’s most critical decisions is when to start lifting interest rates. If she and her colleagues wait too long, they could fuel high inflation or financial bubbles; if they move too soon, they could damp a recovery that is just gaining steam. Key to that decision is making sense of the falling unemployment rate. She and other Fed officials worry it masks large pockets of stress still plaguing the labor market, including millions of people who want work but aren’t looking anymore and therefore are no longer counted as unemployed.

Jos. A. Bank Stands Its Ground (WSJ)
Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. took the offensive in its effort to fend off a proposed takeover by Men’s Wearhouse Inc., entering talks of its own to buy fellow apparel retailer Eddie Bauer LLC and issuing a sharply worded rebuke to its rival’s latest bid to negotiate a deal. Jos. A. Bank is in discussions for a possible takeover of Eddie Bauer, people familiar with the matter said this weekend. Such an acquisition could value Eddie Bauer at as much as $1 billion, one of the people said. A deal between the two companies isn’t imminent, another of the people said. News of the possible Eddie Bauer takeover comes amid a monthslong, rancorous effort by Jos. A. Bank and Men’s Wearhouse, both discount men’s suit retailers, to buy each other. Jos. A. Bank announced its intent to buy larger rival Men’s Wearhouse in October. After that effort was rebuffed, Men’s Wearhouse mounted its own effort to buy Jos. A. Bank, which was in turn rejected. If Jos. A. Bank consummated a deal with closely held Eddie Bauer, it would likely complicate or put an end to the Men’s Wearhouse quest to buy the company, in part by making it much more expensive.

FTC chief to meet consumer activists about Herbalife (NYP)
Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez is feeling the heat. One week after Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent the FTC boss a letter asking her to investigate Herbalife, Ramirez agreed to meet with minority and consumer activists to hear their pyramid concerns about the company, The Post has learned. Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, which asked for the meeting Jan. 27, said more than a dozen activists from around the country will also meet with Ramirez on Feb. 5. The group, while in Washington, will bring former Herbalife distributors, who say they are victims of the company’s alleged pyramid activities, to meet with Congressional representatives.

Puerto Rico Seeking $2 Billion Debt Offering (WSJ)
Puerto Rico is preparing a debt offering of some $2 billion in coming weeks amid increasing pressure from credit-rating firms and investors for the U.S. territory to shore up its finances, according to people familiar with the plans. Within days, island officials will choose the type of debt they will use from several options scrutinized in meetings with rating firms and bankers since late last year, the people said. A team of Puerto Rico officials including Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta Febo met last week with analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services and Fitch Ratings to discuss the island’s fiscal outlook, the Puerto Rico Treasury said in a statement.

‘Mass-Transit Super Bowl’ Hits Some Rough Patches in Moving Fans (NYT)
About four hours before Sunday’s Super Bowl kickoff, fans of all jersey colors appeared to achieve a moment of angry unity while stuck inside a Secaucus, N.J., rail station. The air was stale, the heat had become blistering, and the ordeal was going on and on, approaching an hour. “A.C.! A.C.!” the fans shouted in a plea for cooler conditions as they strained to get a little closer to the connecting trains to MetLife Stadium…In the steamy, uncomfortable backup in Secaucus, Karin Rivale, of Aurora, Colo., predicted that she would lose about 5 pounds before reaching the stadium. As she spoke, people around her began peeling off layers. A burlier fan suggested he might be 20 pounds lighter by the time he reached the stadium. Several fans wondered aloud what had become of what was supposed to be a historic cold-weather Super Bowl. Other jeers included shouts of “T.S.A.!” in reference to the federal Transportation Security Administration and its airport security lines, and “Blame Christie!” a jab at New Jersey’s embattled governor, who is now ensnared in an investigation into a traffic jam of an entirely different kind. When one group of stuck fans attempted a call-and-response chant of “Sea!” and “Hawks!” a Broncos fan, Matt Budreau, decided to intercede. “Sea!” the fans said. “Caucus!” Budreau replied.

Joe Namath botches coin toss, nails fur coat (NYP)
Namath, dressed in a waist-length, hooded mink coach despite the seasonably warm weather conditions, tried to toss the coin before the captains had picked heads or tails. Referee Terry McAulay caught it before it landed. Seattle won the toss anyway, and deferred.

Rhode Island teachers exit Loeb fund (NYP)
The move is the latest salvo in a simmering feud between Loeb, a handful of other hedge fund titans and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. Loeb and other hedgies have criticized the AFT and public-sector pensions, and have made sizable donations to groups that back charter schools, which operate outside the teachers union’s circle of influence. In reaction to that stance, Weingarten put together last April a “watch list” of money managers — a list that included Loeb, David Tepper and Paul Singer — who should not receive teacher pension money. Rhode Island’s General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat who chairs the investment commission that made the decision to exit Third Point, has been pulled into the battle. Raimondo is a candidate for governor and was honored by the conservative think tank, the Manhattan Institute, for overhauling Rhode Island’s pension system, and turning part of it into a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. Loeb is a trustee of the Manhattan Institute. Unionized state workers and retirees charge that Raimondo is relying on an investment strategy that is too risky and too expensive. At the end of 2013, Third Point had a 49 percent return. But the commission believed the fund was becoming too risky and wanted to pull out, according to a report.

Gates Seen Taking Bigger Products Role at Microsoft (Bloomberg)
As the board prepares to appoint Satya Nadella as Microsoft’s next chief executive officer, it’s considering replacing Gates as board chairman, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Gates would remain a director and be involved in product development, focusing less on administration, the people said. He’s weighing going to work at Microsoft at least one day a week, a person briefed on the matter said.

Mining’s Dormant $8 Billion of Private Equity Seen Reviving M&A (Bloomberg)
Some of the biggest names in the industry are keen to buy assets at the same time as the world’s largest producers including Rio Tinto Group are shunning unwanted mines. Former chief executive officers Mick Davis of Xstrata Plc and Barrick Gold Corp.’s Aaron Regent are plotting a return to the business by buying mining projects, backed by private funds. Last week two new mining investment ventures were started, one backed by Warburg Pincus LLC, the other founded by two former JPMorgan Chase & Co. bankers. While buyout firms have targeted mining since 2012, only about 14 percent of the almost $10 billion raised in the last two years has been deployed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries. That could change if they face pressure from their investors to act, Michael Rawlinson, co-head of mining and metals investment banking at Barclays Plc.

Traders Keep an Eye Out for Good Harbor (WSJ)
Something odd happened during U.S. stock trading on Sept. 3: Shares of medium-size companies sank while the rest of the market rose, a finish that occurs about once every 100 sessions. But to some traders, the unusual move wasn’t a mystery. They had been watching for Good Harbor Financial LLC, a fast-growing money manager that deals in nearly $11 billion of exchange-traded funds, to reshuffle its main portfolio, as it does regularly on the first trading day of every month. That day, Good Harbor sold a big stake in the iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF. One month later, Good Harbor was buying midcap stocks. That day, midcaps rose faster than other parts of the market in a broad rally. Then on Nov. 1, the Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell as other corners of the market rose. This time around, Good Harbor was unloading small caps and buying large-cap stock ETFs. Across Wall Street, traders take note when big ETF managers like Good Harbor step into the market, moves that can affect prices. At times, they may try to profit by jumping ahead of Good Harbor, potentially chipping away at returns for its investors, people familiar with the market said. On Monday, February’s first trading session, traders again will be watching for Good Harbor to make a move. “It’s on people’s calendars,” said one ETF trader at a brokerage firm. “Good Harbor pushes a button, and it moves the whole market.”

Rob Ford ticketed by police in British Columbia for jaywalking (The Star)
Global News in Vancouver reported that Ford was crossing a road linking Burnaby and Coquitlam when he was stopped by police. The news station also reported that he had been at a pub in the area earlier, with a flood of photos later being posted on social media of Ford dancing and posing for pictures with revellers. Though people who encountered him suggested he appeared impaired, Ford told the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington that he drank only a Diet Coke while out for the evening. Ford’s spokesperson Amin Massoudi declined to say whether Ford had been drinking or was impaired in any way…Ford told Warmington he is “speechless, “perplexed,” and “in shock” — and that he asked the officers if they gave him the $109 ticket, for “disobeying a pedestrian sign,” because he is cheering for the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Broncos’ opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, enjoy strong support in nearby B.C. “I said you have got to be kidding. I said, are you guys serious?” Ford said. “I said I can’t believe this. They went out of their way to do this. I said I support you guys. Did you arrest me because I am a Broncos fan?” “What happened here is not right,” he added.

38 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (38)

  1. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    So, how'd that Super Bowl thing go?

    – Guy who was asleep at the time and missed pretty much all of it

  2. Posted by You | February 3, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Am I the only one who thinks Joe Namath looked ridiculous in that coat?

  3. Posted by ThatsVVacc | February 3, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    But shit, it was ninety-nine cents!

    – Guy who is not a fan of R. Kelly's piss, but knows a good deal when he sees one.

  4. Posted by SMU Secure | February 3, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    That was one hell of a super bowl clusterfuck you guys put on. Way to go NYC.

  5. Posted by Bored Guest | February 3, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Did they use a Bitcoin for the coin toss?

  6. Posted by Bored Guest | February 3, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I'll translate it to D&D speak so you can understand: the lorthgargs beat the gagglelugs by a score of 2 centurions to 7 dwarf slaves.

  7. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    *New Jersey*

    -UBS Tristate Quant

  8. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Successful Super Bowl -> Great job, New York!

    Unsuccessful Super Bowl -> Way to ruin everything, New Jersey

  9. Posted by #OccupyDB | February 3, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    7 a.m. OB? Thanks for making up for the horrid timing of the OB last Friday. Bring Matt back! Down with Shalazar!

  10. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    Woah! The last time we had a match that lopsided, it was because my friend forgot to have his druid wear the magic resist armor, and he failed a save roll against petrify. Thanks for the update!

  11. Posted by guest | February 3, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Apparently some-kind of Manning-family Kryptonite buried in the Meadowlands…

  12. Posted by N Wacker Stud | February 3, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Jersey really did screw the shit out of the super bowl. What a disaster. Stay classy Jersey.

  13. Posted by Emobro | February 3, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Got my MBP retina replaced Saturday. Columbia U bird getting hers fixed next to me. Nutty makeup but I'm a sucker for average looking weird girls with style. Kicked a little game then noticed her arm hair was aggressive, so I started texting people to avoid conversation. But then she started convo back up and I figured why not. Put my number in her iPhone, she immediately texts her name to me. Texted her later that night my go-to "Fav color, fav dinosaur? It's important" privy convo followed and then she asked what nabe I live in. I didn't re til Sunday and she never replied again. Total bummer. I'm like way out of her league too, so it stings a little more

    Broadway joes mink > that waste of time of a game

  14. Posted by Guest Ben | February 3, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Yellen could raise a quarter and that shouldn't kill anyone… even Pimco. Shw's got to do it sooner rather than later to avoid the GHWB problem when Greenspan was raising rates into a presidential election that caused him to be accused of having a political agenda.

  15. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    wiggle, bitches!

  16. Posted by Guesteban | February 3, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Yes. I thought he looked fabulous.

    — Liberace

  17. Posted by Emobro | February 3, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Some of my friends are having babies. Like on purpose. 5:30 this am I woke up with a fierce hangover next to a 23 yo NYU grad student. Her iPhone alarm was a Tegan and Sara song. Still bitter about that Ivy fadeaway though

  18. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    If Jersey could hedge as well as NYC, Jersey would get more than just the back offices

  19. Posted by Emobro | February 3, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Some of my friends are having babies. Like on purpose. 5:30 this am I woke up with a fierce hangover next to a 23 yo NYU grad student. Her iPhone alarm was a Tegan and Sara song. She looks at me and laughs and says my bed head looks like Bieber's mugshot. Then she says I'm so funny she wishes she could record me so she could listen to me later at school. A little bonkers but I mean compliments are chill … but I'm still bitter about that Genius Bar Ivy fadeaway

  20. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Well, at least Manning went home to Giselle.

  21. Posted by UBS Coin Arc Quant | February 3, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Look at his eyes in that pic. How high was he planning on tossing that coin?

    – guy who thinks they breathalyzed Joe before letting him on the field/in front of a mic this time around

  22. Posted by Puck It | February 3, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Puppy Bowl X > People Bowl XVIII

  23. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    You would have lost 2 centurions too, if Jabba the Hutt had closed the bridge and prevented all your warriors from coming through.

  24. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Remember that ice storm at Jerry's World a few years ago? That was fun.

  25. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Was Doritos a sponsor for the Broncos during the SuperBowl? They just kept munching on Doritos during the breaks.

  26. Posted by CrytpoCanineCurrency | February 3, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Betting on puppy bowl with Dogecoin is the NKI

  27. Posted by murray hill casanova | February 3, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    N Wacker stud, nice. Does Chicago even have a Shake Shack?

  28. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Why are you so stupid?

  29. Posted by UBS CEO | February 3, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Peyton Manning? How come he is not working for us. Make that kid an offer!

  30. Posted by H. Doofenshmirtz | February 3, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Third Point did 49% last year using my Doublinator!

  31. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    greed: Laxbro bitter he only got to ram one college chick this weekend

  32. Posted by Bored Guest | February 3, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    I heard Yellen's got a sweet new gig as the newest spokesperson for Dr. Scholls, targeting financial professionals, particularly the traders in the pits. First cut of the 15-second spot:

    [Traders wearing NYSE vests]

    Trader 1: "Man my feet hurt." [shoes off, rubbing his feet]
    Trader 2: "You should try these new inserts – Black Scholls."

    [Next day]

    Trader 2: "You gellin'?"
    Trader 2: "Like Janet Yellen!" [Big smile]

    Fade out.

  33. Posted by Bored Guest | February 3, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Can you make me a replicatorinator?

    – Ghost of J. Paulson c. '08

  34. Posted by Bored | February 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Third Point did 25% last year, moops

  35. Posted by Guest | February 3, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    Rumor has it Peyton Manning just got a job at the Brookings Institute.

  36. Posted by Ferb | February 3, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    where's perry the platypus

  37. Posted by mich ave studio | February 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    meet me at Eataly in river north. wear orange crocs and a cubs jersey so I know it's you.

  38. Posted by Chiarb | February 3, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    C'mon guys, try harder.