Opening Bell: 03.06.14

ECB set to act against low inflation, hold fire on bolder steps (Reuters)
The ECB currently “sterilizes” money it puts into the system though bond purchases by withdrawing other money to offset the effect. Stopping this would mean more money available for lending. The step is easier to swallow for the Bundesbank, Germany’s conservative central bank, and meets market expectations for some action by the ECB signaling its resolve to maintain its accommodative policy stance for an extended period of time. “This could be the compromise solution,” said Nick Matthews, economist at Nomura.

EBay CEO says top shareholders agree PayPal should stay put (Reuters)
EBay Inc CEO John Donahoe said on Wednesday that several of the online retailer’s most active shareholders have assured him they support his efforts to resist demands by activist investor Carl Icahn for a spin-off of the PayPal unit. Donahoe told Reuters on Wednesday he has spoken with as many as 16 of the 20 most-active shareholders in eBay, and most favored hanging on to the fast-growing PayPal payments unit. He did not say what percentage of the company’s shares were held by the investors who agreed with his resistance to Icahn.

After a Dazzling Early Career, a Star Trader Settles Down (Dealbook)
Over the last decade, Mr. Jones’s trading results have dimmed. His investors say the reasons include a deliberate move to trade more conservatively, fewer big interest-rate and currency moves as central banks kept short-term rates near zero and more competition as the hedge fund universe has mushroomed. While Mr. Jones can still claim long-term annual returns of close to 19.5 percent in his $10.3 billion flagship fund, Tudor BVI Global, it has been 11 years since he last hit that level, according to material provided to potential investors late last year. From 2010 to 2012, he had his worst three-year stretch ever, averaging just 5 percent annually. Last year, gains hit 14.3 percent, investors say, helped by winning bets on Japan’s stock market and against its currency. But two smaller funds managed by other traders have been unprofitable since 2011. One of them, Tudor Tensor, which had a 35 percent gain in 2008, has shrunk to $700 million from $1.4 billion in 2010.

For Bitcoin, Secure Future Might Need Oversight (NYT)
To save their nascent currency, Bitcoin’s backers may be forced to alter their philosophy and embrace the same messy humans — auditors, insurers and even regulators — that the currency’s most ardent supporters have long abhorred. This raises two difficult questions: Can human oversight integrate into Bitcoin’s free-for-all ethos quickly enough to render Bitcoin safe? And, can Bitcoin be made safer without tamping down on the very openness that proponents say makes Bitcoin such a cheap, efficient and innovative financial platform? At the moment, the answers are still very much up in the air.

Army commander bans sandwiches in attack on ‘barbaric habits’ (Telegraph)
Sandwiches have been banned from an officers’ mess after a commander noticed many soldiers were eating them with their hands as he insisted “a gentleman or a lady uses a knife and fork.” Major General James Cowan issued the note after he noticed officers were eating sandwiches with their hands and failing to stand when commanders entered the room. His three-page letter criticised standards at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire where he said he had seen many “frankly barbaric” techniques and habits displayed by soldiers and officers. The note, addressed to ‘Chaps’, said: “Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands. The practice of serving rolls and sandwiches must stop,” the Sun reported. The letter penned by Maj Gen Cowan, who is in charge of 20,000 soldiers and 2,500 officers in 3 UK Division, mostly based at Bulford, also criticised poor grammar and writing, advising against the “wanton use of capitals, abbreviations and acronyms” because they can leave the reader exhausted.

Fisher warns Fed’s bond buying could be distorting U.S. financial markets (Reuters)
In a speech in Mexico City, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher amplified some lingering concerns that the central bank’s policy stimulus is stoking asset-price bubbles that “may result in tears” for investors acting on bad incentives. “There are increasing signs quantitative easing has overstayed its welcome: Market distortions and acting on bad incentives are becoming more pervasive,” he said of the asset purchases, which are sometimes called QE. “I fear that we are feeding imbalances similar to those that played a role in the run-up to the financial crisis,” he said in prepared remarks to the Association of Mexican Banks.

Sbarro Preparing to File for Bankruptcy Protection (WSJ)
Sbarro LLC is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as next week as it continues to struggle with flagging sales after an earlier Chapter 11 restructuring, people familiar with the matter said. The pizza chain is soliciting votes due by the end of this week for a so-called prepackaged restructuring plan that could streamline its trip through bankruptcy court, these people said. If it gets enough votes, Sbarro could file for Chapter 11 protection as early as Sunday, they said.

Singapore to Overtake Tokyo as Asia’s Wealthy Hub in 2023 (Bloomberg)
Singapore will have 4,878 people with $30 million or more in assets excluding their principal residence by 2023, a 55 percent gain from last year, and trailing only London globally, according to a report from Knight Frank LLP yesterday. The number of these millionaires in Tokyo will climb 8 percent to 3,818, ranking the city fourth worldwide after New York.

Gambler Sues, Says He Lost $500,000 Playing Drunk (AP)
Southern California gambler Mark Johnston, 52, is suing the Downtown Grand for loaning him money and serving him drinks when he was visibly intoxicated. Nevada law bars casinos from allowing obviously drunk patrons to gamble and from serving them comped drinks. Johnston’s attorney, Sean Lyttle, says the Grand, which opened last November in the old part of Las Vegas, intends to pursue Johnston for trying to shirk his gambling debts. Johnston put a stop-payment order on the markers, or casino credits, the Grand issued, and is also seeking damages from the Grand for sullying his name. Johnston says he was thoroughly drunk during the hours he spent playing pai gow and blackjack at the Grand. His legal team plans to rely on eyewitness testimony and surveillance video to prove that he was visibly intoxicated. Johnston lives in Ventura and made his fortune in car dealership and real estate ventures…Johnston arrived in Las Vegas with the woman he was dating on the Thursday before the Super Bowl. He drank in the limousine from the Las Vegas airport to the Grand, drank more during dinner with friends, and then says he blacked out. The suit alleges that the Grand comped him dozens of drinks while he gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars, finally sleeping off his drunkenness on that Saturday, which was Feb, 1. Johnston says he didn’t learn how much he had lost until the next day.

34 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
Show all comments ↓

Comments (34)

  1. Posted by Shaz's beard | March 6, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    "Johnston arrived in Las Vegas with the woman he was dating on the Thursday before the Super Bowl. He drank in the limousine from the Las Vegas airport to the Grand, drank more during dinner with friends, and then says he blacked out."

    i.e. Johnston was ruffied by a two-bit hoooker

  2. Posted by guest | March 6, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    don't alienate the barbarians who are fighting for you

    - the Western Roman empire

  3. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    He can thank his shazypants his last name is not Shazar.

  4. Posted by Tudors buying | March 6, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    As someone who's heard enough, "tudor" responses from idiots in trading and other market discussions over the last decade, I can say I'm glad that has been put to rest.

    5 fucking percent over three years annualized ?

  5. Posted by Dad | March 6, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    "The Association of Mexican Banks" sounds like the name a secret group of high schoolers gave to themselves that meet after class to blow lines and pay homeless people to fight each other.

  6. Posted by Midtown Monster | March 6, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Ok, I'll say it. I'm not embarrassed. That sandwich looks fucking delicious.

  7. Posted by El Guesto | March 6, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    It's by invitation only.

  8. Posted by Destined to lose | March 6, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    If he was flying to Vegas for the super bowl, this should just be tossed if he had the broncos.

  9. Posted by Quant me maybe ... | March 6, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    RE: ‘Chaps’, said: “Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands.

    Does this also imply that the proper way for a British Officer to lead a charge is with swords drawn and on horseback?

    >Question for WWI aficionado — How'd that work out for the British?

  10. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Charging at artillery with swords drawn was the Crimean War. By WWI we'd switched to walking slowly towards machine guns.

  11. Posted by Evil David Letterman | March 6, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    Hey if I could just say one thing. Speaking of hookers — card swiping a womans ass is all the rage these days. Just uh not sure I should wash my hand afterwards, or do I let the funk linger and catch a whiff for later.

  12. Posted by Flashman | March 6, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    See above. That's why your a fuckin quant goon.

  13. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    "central bank’s policy stimulus is stoking asset-price bubbles that “may result in tears” for investors acting on bad incentives"

    ya don't say!

  14. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Despite its ubiquity, never been to a Sbarro's and no one's ever tried to drag me there either.

  15. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Why is it they are always the Christmas Light Shows that bring down the Market Wizards returns.

  16. Posted by Smelled for Weeks | March 6, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    I onced card swiped a lactose-intolerant girl who just downed a chai latte

  17. Posted by SPX | March 6, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    either that or all time highs with no inflation evident

  18. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    "Non" to zee Earl de Sandwich? Come and buy notre camembert.

    French Military Rations, Featuring Camembert and Cassoulet, Are Prized by Civilians, Too http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052

  19. Posted by Single in FiDi | March 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Good thing Sbarro's is going BK. I don't think Maj. Light in Loafers would last 5 minutes in one of those.

  20. Posted by Shooter McGavin | March 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Agreed. My first thought was that the sandwich fairy was making a reappearance, so you can imagine my disappointment.

    - guy who's never won and thinks the sandwich fairy is shazar after sniffing glue all day

  21. Posted by bobby | March 6, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    In England, if you commit a crime, the police will say, "Stop, or I'll say stop again."

  22. Posted by KingCo | March 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    And I suppose you've never gone to Denny's for the free Grand Slam on your birthday?

    You need to get out more.

  23. Posted by Draggers | March 6, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    He's not a very popular guy.

  24. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Obama, bama, banana.

  25. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    Moreover we won both wars. So don't knock charging/walking into enemy fire.

  26. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    So I take it the short bus has WiFi now?

  27. Posted by WWI Afficionado | March 6, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Charging machine guns with drawn swords is like fighting with a red coat on, so brazen it strikes fear into the heart of your adversaries.

    Total power move

  28. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Of course I've been to Denny's, HoJo's, White Castle, Dairy Queen, Olive Garden, Gray's Papaya, Arby's, Koronet Pizza, etc… but never– not ever– Sbarro's.

  29. Posted by Guest5 | March 6, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Ni. Ni. Ni!

  30. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    So you're a Famous Famiglia guy, then?

  31. Posted by Drexel's Carcass | March 6, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    There's a huge opportunity here that can solve both Sbarro's and the U.K. military's problem. I see it, and it all starts with a three-way involving them and a disposable plastic utensil company! Let's put a Blue Book together on that right now!

    -Ghost of Jeffery Beck

  32. Posted by Bam | March 6, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Defonte's in Red Hook. Italian Stallion.

  33. Posted by Guest | March 6, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Actually the Russians thought the British troops were drunk. Which, coming from Russians, is really quite damning.

  34. Posted by Mr Gramercy Park | March 7, 2014 at 12:47 AM

    They also have a branch in Manhattan: Third Av / 21 St. So you don't have to take the subway/bus or IKEA ferry to Red Hook.