Opening Bell: 08.07.14

BofA Said Nearing Up to $17 Billion Mortgage Settlement (Bloomberg)
Under the proposed terms, the bank would pay about $9 billion in cash and the rest in consumer relief to settle federal and state claims, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. Details of the proposed accord, such as the relief and a statement of facts, are still being negotiated, the person said. The outlines of the deal were reached last week after a phone call between Attorney General Eric Holder and Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan, the person said. During the July 30 call, Holder said that the government was ready to file a lawsuit in New Jersey if the bank didn’t offer an amount closer to the department’s demand of about $17 billion, according to the person.

Banks’ Failure on ‘Living Wills’ Frays Relations With Regulators (WSJ)
The failure of the biggest U.S. banks to convince regulators they can go bust without bringing down the financial system is likely to further strain an already tense relationship between Wall Street and Washington. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. told 11 of the largest banks to address significant shortcomings in so-called living wills they submitted showing how they can be dismantled under bankruptcy and without government support. Bank officials were surprised by the public rebuke. A senior executive at one of the banks noted his firm got a 19-page memo less than three hours before the public release by the Federal Reserve and FDIC. The executive said there was no communication with regulators beforehand.

Portugal Bans Short Selling in Banco Comercial Português Stock (WSJ)
Portugal’s market regulator has banned short selling in shares of Banco Comercial Português SA, as the rescue earlier this week of one of the bank’s biggest domestic rivals continues to reverberate through financial markets. The regulator said late Wednesday that the ban would take effect on Thursday morning and last until 11.59 p.m. The move follows a 15% drop in BCP’s share price on Wednesday.

Argentina’s Wall Street Fixers Joined by Deutsche Bank for Talks (Bloomberg)
Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) joined JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. (C) and HSBC Holdings Plc in talks with Argentina’s holdout creditors to seek an agreement that would allow the country to resume paying its bonds, according to a person briefed on the meetings. Deutsche Bank joined an Aug. 1 meeting between the banks and hedge funds including Elliott Management Corp. that won a U.S. court order for full repayment on debt from Argentina’s 2001 default, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Banks are proposing to buy at least a portion of the defaulted bonds, he said.

Finger Wrestling Championships Feature Lederhosen, Beer (HP)
…in Germany, finger wrestling is the reason locals don their lederhosen and chug pilsner on weekends. The Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen just hosted the 55th Finger Wrestling Championships, celebrating a sport that dates back to the 17th century. Dozens of finger-flexing athletes lock their digits in a tug-of-war. The object is to pull your opponent across the table using only one finger — usually the middle one — that fits into a strap. Mashable reports that there are actual techniques to Fingerhakeln, but really it’s all about pain tolerance and strength. Plenty of giant Bavarian and Austrian dudes end up dislocating their wittle fingohs, though.

Goldman Sachs says alternative trading system being investigated (Reuters)
Goldman Sachs said it was being investigated for its U.S. alternative trading system and for the potential misuse and circulation of non-public information related to its corporate developments. Fox Business Network reported this week that New York’s attorney general was investigating the alternative trading systems, also known as “dark pools”, run by Goldman and Morgan Stanley. Goldman, in a filing on Thursday, did not specify who was conducting the investigation.

Goldman Sachs Lowers Range of Possible Legal Costs (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs lowered the top end of a range of “reasonably possible” legal costs to $3.2 billion, the Wall Street firm said Thursday in a regulatory filing. Goldman’s estimate for the expenses, which are above what the firm had already set aside in legal reserves, had reached a high end of $3.7 billion three months ago. Those reserves went up during the second quarter; provisions for legal and regulatory matters totaled $284 million in the three months that ended in June, Goldman reported last month.

Americans Give Up Passports as Asset-Disclosure Rules Start (Bloomberg)
Some 1,577 people gave up their nationality at U.S. embassies in the six months through June, according to Federal Register data published yesterday. While that’s a 13 percent decline from the year-earlier period, it’s only the second time there’s been a reading of more than 1,500, according to Bloomberg News calculations based on records starting in 1998. Tougher asset-disclosure rules effective as of July 1 under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, prompted 576 of the estimated 6 million Americans living overseas to give up their passports in the second quarter. The appeal of U.S. citizenship for expatriates faded as more than 100 Swiss banks turn over data on American clients to avoid prosecution for helping tax evaders.

U.S. Treasury looks to hold more cash to deal with future crises (Reuters)
The U.S. Treasury wants to increase its daily cash holdings, a measure that would help Washington pay its bills during a crisis, a senior official said on Wednesday. If adopted, the new policy would help the government in the event an emergency shut down markets and left Washington unable to borrow money to pay creditors and other obligations. “Holding more cash on hand is a prudent measure,” Treasury Assistant Secretary Matt Rutherford said in a news conference.

Elephant Uses Car To Scratch Back (Mirror)
The VW Polo and its two terrified occupants found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time as the giant elephant stooped down to rub itself against the vehicle’s roof and bonnet. The incredible images were taken by Armand Grobler, 21, a field guide and lodge manager, in Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa…He said: “I was doing ethology – the study of animal behaviour – at the time, so I had a basic understanding of what was going on. “The elephant was presumably on Musth, which is a time that an elephant male has an excess amount of testosterone, turning even the calmest Dumbo into a raging bull. “Yet even though it was in this condition, it displayed no signs of aggression or frustration and was in a more playful mood.” Elephants frequently use logs, small trees and rocks to relieve an itch or remove parasites – but with the car so close to hand, it was a chance too good for the elephant to pass up…”The two passengers in the car, male and female, both in late 20’s or early 30’s, were not harmed, only badly shaken up. They were both in shock but happy to be alive. The car was not so lucky. From what we could see and hear, all the windows were smashed, the roof was badly dented and the entire top part of the car smashed.”

13 comments (hidden to protect delicate sensibilities)
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Comments (13)

  1. Posted by gest | August 7, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Wonderful.

  2. Posted by HotKarl | August 7, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    My honey pot has wrestled its share of fingers in its lifetime and I'm proud to say that my beef curtains sport a wrestling record of 9,951-1. The 1 loss? Goddamn Paul Bunyan was more than my cock socket could handle.

    – Lynn Tilton

  3. Posted by Lowly Assistant | August 7, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Nice yellow dick napkin, Brian.

  4. Posted by Guest | August 7, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Brian are you pulling out coins from behind your ear to pay off these fines?

    Before I finger wrestle I like to give my competitor multiple Avion shots to grease the skids. Time trusted technique

  5. Posted by Paul Pot | August 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    racist

  6. Posted by Guest | August 7, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    It would be racist not to say it

  7. Posted by Snails | August 7, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Hi, I would like everyone to meet my wife Beverly.

  8. Posted by Narcissus Bellicose | August 7, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    “Okay, 20 billion gets you our ‘magic curtain’ package, but for an additional 5 bil you can get our ‘total eclipse’… that includes not only protection from prosecution, but from social media and the press as well.”

  9. Posted by Narcissus Bellicose | August 7, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Supplemental Comment: "No matter what you do on Wall Street, do not, under any circumstances, attempt to commit a financial crime in the United States unless you first tithe to the DNC. After that, its all good!"

    – Jon S Corzine

  10. Posted by Supertrader | August 7, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    The comments this morning must be laced with Kryptonite!

  11. Posted by Rebecca M. | August 7, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    I know exactly how those occupants fell each time HR visits me and leans on my desk.

  12. Posted by SubSaharan Quant | August 7, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    If these types of comments spread by air, like Ebola, we are doomed

  13. Posted by Guest | August 7, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    yes but it would be racist not to say racist first.