Opening Bell: 05.08.14

World Economy Stabilizes in Great Moderation 2.0 (Bloomberg)
Volatility in growth among the main industrial countries is the lowest since 2007 and half that of the 20 years starting in 1987, according to Bloomberg calculations based on International Monetary Fund data. Investors also are becalmed, with a risk measure that uses options to forecast fluctuations in equities, currencies, commodities and bonds around the weakest level in almost seven years.

Hedge Funds Extend Their Slide (WSJ)
Big stumbles by some star managers drove hedge funds to back-to-back monthly declines for the first time in two years, according to researcher HFR Inc. The lackluster showing—the average hedge fund trailed benchmarks for both stocks and bonds in April—was a blow for an industry that charges more than other fund managers but pitches steady returns in both good times and bad. Hedge funds on average dropped 0.17% in April, HFR said Wednesday, following a 0.33% decline in March. Funds hadn’t turned in two consecutive losing months since April and May of 2012, HFR said.

Son Makes $58 Billion on Alibaba With Buffett-Type Return (Bloomberg)
With Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. filing to go public, the biggest winner won’t be founder Jack Ma or his fellow executives or even venture capital backers like Silver Lake Management LLC. It’ll be Japan’s Masayoshi Son. Fourteen years ago, Son’s SoftBank Corp. (9984) started with a $20 million bet on a then-unknown Web portal connecting Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers. That site evolved into China’s biggest Internet shopping mall and SoftBank’s stake is now estimated to be worth about $58 billion, an exceptional return even by Silicon Valley’s standards. The IPO burnishes Son’s reputation as one of the world’s savviest investors and provides more capital to a man on the hunt for deals. After taking control of the U.S. carrier Sprint Corp. last July, Son made no secret of his interest in T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) Analysts say he may also pursue European wireless operators or take another look at music labels, after his $8.5 billion bid for Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group was rebuffed.

Meet the eccentric founder of Alibaba (NYP)
Ma has been described as an eccentric and a “scrappy fighter” who practices kung fu and other Chinese martial arts. Last year, he opened a tai chi school with Jet Li, the Hong Kong star who starred in “Hero” and other martial arts classics…Ma indicated that he is fretting the trap doors that lie within the US capital markets, and not the other way around. In a letter to employees on Tuesday, Ma warned of “unparalleled ruthlessness … lying behind the massive allure of the capital market.” To combat it, he reminded his employees’ to stick to the company’s principle of “customer first, employee second, shareholder third.”

Seeking Tough Justice, but Settling for Empty Promises (Dealbook)
The Justice Department is talking tough. In an unusually frank video statement, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. proclaimed that he was personally overseeing major financial investigations and that his department was poised to bring charges against several large institutions. The United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, gave a rousing speech several weeks ago, declaring that the era of “too big to jail” is over…Despite Mr. Holder’s tough-sounding video appearance, it is clear that prosecutors are twisting themselves into awkward yoga poses to minimize the damage any charges against companies might inflict on the larger economy. That’s prudent, of course, but it also suggests that the companies still have considerable leverage in preserving their essential profit centers.

Dog driving car one of a few odd calls for Alamance law enforcement (NR)
Burlington police issued a BOLO, or “be on the lookout,” for a black vehicle apparently being driven by a canine Tuesday afternoon. “There was a car in the area of Cum Park Plaza driving recklessly, and it appeared a dog was driving the vehicle,” Long said. A description of the dog was unavailable, and as of late Tuesday afternoon, police had not located the vehicle. “We have not been able to confirm that the dog was not driving,” Long said.

Growing Pains For A Goldman Sachs Fund (Dealbook)
One of Goldman Sachs’s most notable investment vehicles, Petershill, has been less than extraordinary, effectively saved by one good bet among a number of duds, and the bank even came close to selling it to Credit Suisse in 2012. So when Goldman started a second version of Petershill, which buys stakes in big-name hedge funds, it came as something of a surprise to people in the industry. Now as the second incarnation seeks to raise money, will the original Petershill cast a long shadow? Goldman says it is satisfied with the pace of fund-raising, but investors do not appear to be flocking to the new fund as quickly as they did to the first one.

Silicon Valley Sees ‘Grave Threat’ in Internet Toll Roads (Bloomberg)
Amazon, Google, and more than 100 other software, social-media and technology companies said they oppose a U.S. proposal to let Internet-service providers charge them extra for faster routes to Web users. The rules may let telephone-service and cable providers “discriminate both technically and financially” and would be “a grave threat to the Internet,” the companies said today in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. Other signers included Facebook, Netflix, and Microsoft Corp.

Subway tests hummus, thinner meat slices (AP)
The hummus test comes at a time when many Americans are trying to cut back on how much meat they eat. In particular, Pace noted that people in their 20s are more “nutritionally aware” than any other past generation. In coming years, he predicted their eating habits will force the restaurant industry to adapt their menus…In a separate interview, Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca said the chain also started testing thinner slices of deli meat in December. In the test, which is taking place at restaurants in Illinois, DeLuca said franchisees are putting 12 slices of meat on a Footlong sandwich, instead of eight. He said the meat is the same but that it’s just sliced thinner to improve its “bite” and appearance. “For some reason, it looks better. It looks like more meat,” DeLuca said.

“Prom draft” at California high school flagged by principal (CBS)
A long-lasting tradition, in which male students of an Orange County high school hold an NFL-style draft to find prom dates, is under scrutiny. According to CBS Los Angeles, a number of students at Corona Del Mar High School find the tradition offensive, while others say they are indifferent. “They just pick numbers randomly to see, like who gets first pick, and last pick, and in between,” student Veronica Varol said. “And then they pick who they want to take to the dance.” For 2014 prom, a reported group of about 40 boys, consisting mostly of seniors, gathered at a clubhouse, dressed fully in sport coats, to hold their draft. Among the people protesting the tradition are a number of parents. “If they treat women this way at this age, what will they do then when they’re of legal age,” parent Vivian Rowe said. “They’re drafting them. That’s not exactly respectful.” On the other hand, a number of students told CBS2/KCAL9′s Kristine Lazar that they feel the draft is not a big deal, and that the entire issue is blown out of proportion. “It’s pretty, just like, an organized way of doing it,” Varol said.

16 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (16)

  1. Posted by Guest | May 8, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    Dog driving > Asian chick driving

  2. Posted by guest | May 8, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    I'd hit it.

    - Dennis Kneale

  3. Posted by guest | May 8, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    I thought Cum Park Plaza was by the Lincoln Tunnel.
    Charlotte Simmons

  4. Posted by Guestalt | May 8, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    “Customer first, employee second, shareholder third”? That's cute.

    - Those motherfuckers at Goldman Sachs

  5. Posted by HotKarl | May 8, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    Based on the description of 'a dog driving a car' + near a place called 'cum', is it safe to assume we have a Lynn Tilton sighting?

  6. Posted by Guest | May 8, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Awful reporting. What are these kids drafting upon? Attractiveness? Likelihood to put out? Can one trade down from the #1 pick for a later round 7/10 plus a date to be named later? Did Martin Goldstein really pull off the draft of the century in 2012 by trading back for a handle of Fireball and Karen "Old-Fashioned" Jones? Inquiring minds want to know.

    - Married, living vicariously guest

  7. Posted by Xenomorph | May 8, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_2XWljp67U

    Confirmed by actual asian

  8. Posted by Confus-us | May 8, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    What if the shareholders, upper level employees, and beneficiaries of a reverse-whatever deal are all the same people?

    Thank you, come again

  9. Posted by Fast food eater | May 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    So the Subway guy thinks his customers are dumb?

  10. Posted by Pot making a call | May 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Ma warned of “unparalleled ruthlessness … lying behind the massive allure of the capital market.”

    Are the employees Chinese? Just curious….

  11. Posted by Texashedge | May 8, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    I suspect that–like in the NFL–they are drafting based on a host of variables like build, track record, and arm strength.

    Signability though, would be the most important for me were I in this situation because I imagine that there would be quite a few Eli Manning situations.

  12. Posted by future laxbro slam | May 8, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    I'm a first round draft pick….Umm, like only the parents of the fat girs are like complaining, totes lame

  13. Posted by Lowly Assistant | May 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    "Did Martin Goldstein really pull off the draft of the century in 2012 by trading back for a handle of Fireball and Karen "Old-Fashioned" Jones?"

    So good.

  14. Posted by FatGuySkinnyTie | May 8, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    “It’s pretty, just like, an organized way of doing it”

    I think I could masturbate to this sentence alone.

  15. Posted by Billy Pilgrim | May 8, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Girls are being drafted for prom just like they will be drafted for short-term relationships and insemination. This is only a matter of conditioning them for what's to come. Except fellas, pick out of a hat to determine first pick?

    That's not how it works:

    Auction draft > snake draft

    In other news, now, every time I sneeze, I think erotically of Bill Gross.

  16. Posted by Quagmire | May 8, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Lois was my first pick uh uhuhuhuh