Opening Bell: 07.09.14

UBS Says Brazil’s 7-1 Trouncing Is Bearish for Stocks (Bloomberg)
Conventional wisdom has been that a Brazil loss at home in the World Cup would be a positive for the country’s financial markets. A defeat, the argument went, would sour the national mood and prompt voters to oust President Dilma Rousseff, who has sunk the economy into stagflation. Yesterday’s 7-1 loss to Germany, though, was so crushing that it upends that theory, according to Geoffrey Dennis, the head of emerging-market strategy at UBS AG, who’s been covering Brazil since the early 1990s. Yes, the defeat will hurt Rousseff’s chances at re-election in October, but the lopsided outcome at the same time could deal a blow to investor and consumer confidence in a country that obsesses about its national pastime, he said. “It is such a humiliating defeat that you wonder whether it will have a negative impact on Brazilians’ psyche,” Dennis said in a telephone interview from Boston yesterday. “It’s going to confirm to the people that ‘Look, our economy is struggling, we cannot get any growth, now we don’t even have a decent football team either.’”

Citigroup Nears Deal to Resolve Mortgage Probe (WSJ)
The Justice Department and Citigroup Inc are close to a deal for the bank to pay about $7 billion to settle allegations it sold shoddy mortgages in the run-up to the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the matter. The two sides, which had been far apart just weeks ago, are ironing out details of an agreement that would avert a federal lawsuit over the mortgages, these people said. A settlement could be announced as early as next week. The potential settlement marks a reversal from mid-June, when the Justice Department had warned that it planned to file a lawsuit unless Citigroup significantly raised its settlement offer.

The Magic Fades for Gowex’s Jenaro García (WSJ)
When Jenaro García’s tech company Let’s Gowex SA won the top prize from Spain’s marketing association in May, the presenter hailed him as an innovator who was making wireless Internet ubiquitous, “a magician who converted Wi-Fi into water.” Mr. García, outfitted in an Indiana Jones-style jacket, appeared before the appreciative crowd alongside Wi-Fi Man, a masked, caped superhero figure. The cheering for Mr. García stopped this month as Gowex’s success story abruptly unraveled. U.S. investment firmGotham City Research LLC on July 1 posted a takedown of the company, asserting that its stellar financial results were largely fabricated and its highflying stock worthless. With investors jumping ship, Mr. García gave one last defiant performance on Friday. At a meeting of employees, the 46-year-old chairman and chief executive vowed to bring “Wi-Fi to Gotham.” To demonstrate his resilience, he brandished metal pins that he said had been used to set 24 broken bones he had suffered in an accident years before. The next day, though, he told Gowex’s board that the financial results had been fabricated for at least four years. Gowex filed for bankruptcy, and Mr. García sent a tweet asking forgiveness from those he had harmed.

Emerging Markets’ Chocolate Lovers Boost Cocoa Prices (WSJ)
More than a decade ago, Anupama Amarnath learned how to make chocolate candy for her husband, who had a hard time finding enough of the rare treat in Bangalore to satisfy his cravings. But demand for her chocolate, which is tempered and molded into various shapes, grew far beyond her household. Fifty-year-old Ms. Amarnath now operates a chain of 11 retail outlets under the Chocolate Junction brand in and around the Indian city and owns a 10,000-square-foot chocolate factory. Years of rapid growth in chocolate consumption have given India and other developing markets unprecedented sway in the global market for cocoa. These countries’ share of global chocolate sales is pegged at 45% this year, according to data from market-research firm Euromonitor International. That is up from 33% a decade ago.

Uber agrees to cap NY pricing during emergencies (AP)
Uber, which uses a mobile application to connect riders with vehicles for hire, has its rates rise and fall with demand, but it has been criticized for “surge pricing” that’s sometimes exponentially higher than base fares. Prices usually increase weekdays during rush hour in New York City, on Saturday nights, special occasions like New Year’s Eve and during bad weather. Under the agreement signed Tuesday, Uber will set a cap during “abnormal disruptions of the market,” limited to the range of prices charged in the preceding 60 days and excluding the three highest prices. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the agreement between his office and Uber Technologies Inc. and Uber NYC will apply to UberX, Uber Black and Uber SUV statewide.

Just how bad for you were those cupcakes? (NYDN)
Cupcakes from the now-shuttered bakery chain ranked notoriously high in calorie counts, as their massive desserts were about the size of softballs. According to New Jersey nutritionist Erin Palinski-Wade, calories for one Crumbs cupcake ran anywhere from the high 400s to a whopping 780 calories…Crumbs’ delights were also serious sugar bombs, containing about 50-100 grams of sugar each.

Office Team-Building Exercises Gone Bad (NPR)
Several years ago Ben Johnson worked at a health foods store in Iowa. He remembers store management stringing up a donkey piñata to pump up the workers. “Pinned to its chest was a name tag for a rival store,” Johnson says. “They explained to everyone that this was, in fact, an effigy and that we were going to work together to figuratively, literally destroy the competition.” In lieu of candy, the piñata was filled with dollar coins. An overzealous middle manager with a baseball bat was first up, and he obliterated it. “So when this thing explodes, dozens of the dollar gold Sacagawea coins fly through the air everywhere,” Johnson says. “Someone in the front row takes one in the face and goes down. They ricochet off the walls. And when the coins finally stop, I emerge from underneath the table, there’s just a stunned silence.” The coins are like blood money, and no one picks them up. Johnson thinks of the whole fiasco as an omen since the store eventually fell to the competition…Several years ago, things didn’t go well for Peter Brooks when his former employer bused his division to a suburban Washington, D.C., field. They were divided into teams for a round of paintball. “We were issued safety goggles and paintball guns, one of which immediately misfired. It hit a district manager in the crotch,” Brooks says. He remembers that the game quickly devolved into screaming, pleading and retaliatory rage — the paintballs left large welts. “A lot of people pointed their guns right at their supervisors, me included,” Brooks says. “I shot mine right in the middle of the back, and then when he spun around with revenge in his eyes, I surrendered.” The bus ride home, he says, was dead silent.

Ex-JPMorgan trader to challenge FCA over London Whale decision (Reuters)
A former JPMorgan trader charged in the United States over his alleged role in the $6.2 billion “London Whale” trading scandal has won the right to a legal challenge of the British regulator’s decision to drop its investigation into him. Lawyers said the trader, Julien Grout, might want the investigation to continue in Britain as its findings could affect the case against him in the United States. A High Court judge ruled on Tuesday that Grout could bring a so-called judicial review of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) decision to end its probe before he was able to respond to the allegations.

Hottest China App Inspired by 25-Year-Old’s Manga Passion (Bloomberg)
Erick Guo left Asia’s largest Internet company last year to build a team of artists and engineers who could create smartphone applications inspired by Japanese comics. The 25-year-old and his team ended up with China’s hottest app last month and are working on the next hit. The free app, called MYOTee, lets people design avatars, or digital images, of themselves and friends that can be used for instant messaging or on social networks. It soared to the top of the Apple Inc. and Google Inc. Android app stores in China in June, with the software downloaded 36 million times. Guo, who had previously worked at China Web giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700), developed the app by inviting Hong Kong T-shirt artist Peter Lee to join the team and create digital versions of his designs. With backing from venture firms such as IDG Capital Partners, Guo’s team at Lemon Tech is seeking to follow MYOTee’s success with new products such as mobile games.

SEC’s High-Speed Trader Plan Embraced by Funds, Exchanges (Bloomberg)
Chief executives from the New York Stock Exchange to institutional investors including Citadel LLC and Invesco Ltd. (IVZ) backed the commission’s call to rein in some high-frequency trading and make secretive trading venues known as dark pools disclose more about how they work. The SEC also should move forward with a plan to require that brokers provide investors with detailed maps of how their orders are filled, the executives said at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee.

Finra Launches Probe of Retail Broker Routing Practices (WSJ)
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is pressing retail brokers for details about how they route customer orders amid mounting concerns some brokers might be sending orders to venues that provide the highest payments but not the best price for investors.

This dog probably has that ball you lost ages ago (MetroUK)
The Lakeland terrier has sniffed out footballs, tennis balls and beach balls from bushes and grass verges over a number of years. Bemused owner Sarah Bennett now has an entire garden full of her trophies. Sarah, of Newton Abbot, Devon, reckons the pooch has found close to 1,000 balls so far. She told Western Daily Express: ‘Right from when we first bought her as a puppy she would find a ball. Within the first week she found an old leather ball at the end of the garden. ‘She collects balls of all sizes – from tiny bouncy balls to big space hoppers. She must have collected almost a thousand since we first got her.

23 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (23)

  1. Posted by InfiniteGuest | July 9, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    A ball-sniffing bitch like that has to be part cocker spaniel.

  2. Posted by Guest | July 9, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    I can see how team building works if you are allowed to deliver paint gun welts to the tossers that work with you. otherwise it's a waste to time.

  3. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    “We were issued safety goggles and paintball guns, one of which immediately misfired. It hit a district manager in the crotch,” Brooks says.

    I'm sorry, and this is an example of a team building exercise gone bad how, exactly?

    -j gunds

  4. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    mmmm….chocolate….

    -starving guest

  5. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Nothing witty to say, but that dog is adorable.

    -guy who just loves dogs

  6. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    call me.

    -d kneale

  7. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    "To demonstrate his resilience, he brandished metal pins that he said had been used to set 24 broken bones he had suffered in an accident years before."

    Shit just got real

  8. Posted by Narcissus Bellicose | July 9, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Okay, it goes like this: "Bob, I bought ten thousand shares of ABC Widget at the market open, and unfortunately I overbought for my regular clients. I have two thousand shares left, and the stock's up three points. Buy those shares from me and I'll give you the open price – meaning you book three points right off the bat. Sound good? I thought so. Thanks for the vote of confidence, bob."

    From there, the broker walks over to the trader's desk, and a tick mark is made on a ledger. If you can track that kind of 'order routing', then you'll have a fantastic career in Wall Street enforcement!

  9. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    “It’s going to confirm to the people that ‘Look, our economy is struggling, we cannot get any growth, now we don’t even have a decent football team either.’”

    well you don't have to be so mean about it.

  10. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    “Someone in the front row takes one in the face and goes down. They ricochet off the walls. And when the coins finally stop, I emerge from underneath the table, there’s just a stunned silence.”

    god I need a new job.

    -guy who thinks this sounds like a great way to spend an afternoon with coworkers

  11. Posted by Quant me maybe... | July 9, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    The real story of the day is we all haven't quit our day jobs and opened marijuana dispensaries in Washington state.

    >Colorado proved the business model was going to be lucrative.

  12. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    Willy McGee's extreme experience happened last year during a retreat to Montauk, N.Y. The company he worked for was clearly in financial straits and full of dissent and discontent. But McGee says the CEO hoped to find salvation through group inspiration and seemed eager to appear cool and edgy to his young, 20-something staff.

    "I think in order to win people back on his favor, he started going around and trying to hand out drugs," McGee says.

    Psilocybin mushrooms, to be precise.

    "So, at this point, about half the staff is arguing about who has it worse, at which job, and how we're getting screwed and what we're going to do next. And the other half started to eat psychedelic mushrooms," McGee says.

    He remembers that after a midnight parade and a degree of mayhem, most of the employees settled down at the beach.

    "We had this moment together on top of this lifeguard tower where we realized, 'Well, we're not going to save the business, but we could at least save the relationships here,' " McGee says.

  13. Posted by HotKarl | July 9, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Lynn Tilton's chin also seems to attract 'balls of all sizes"…

  14. Posted by Long Time Cubs Fan | July 9, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Boo f*ckin hoo

  15. Posted by SMU Secure | July 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    What's it like to be overrun with rats, NYC?

  16. Posted by Texashedge | July 9, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Boys From Brazil beat boys from Brazil

  17. Posted by El McFlyo | July 9, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Get your damn hands out of my pants, gringo!

  18. Posted by Stalky MD | July 9, 2014 at 11:11 AM
  19. Posted by Guest | July 9, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    tldr

  20. Posted by guest | July 9, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    was this really worth typing and hitting submit on?

  21. Posted by Orlof | July 9, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    Thanks Obama!

    -Brazil

  22. Posted by Puck It | July 9, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    It's not mean. Same shit's been in every London paper every day for the last 45 years.

  23. Posted by Guest | July 9, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    the best team building exercise is to put google glasses on the whole team and record a days work.