Opening Bell: 08.14.14

Banks Get Enforcement Letters in FX-Rigging Probe (Bloomberg)
Banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Citigroup Inc. (C) and Morgan Stanley (MS) have been notified regulators are preparing enforcement actions on currency rigging, people familiar with the investigation said. Talks are progressing between banks, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to settle investigations into alleged manipulation of foreign-exchange markets, according to two people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Some firms have received so-called 15-day letters outlining the agencies’ findings and warning that enforcement actions are likely, the people said.

Louis Bacon and Peter Nygard Move Bahamas Feud to New York (Dealbook)
Mr. Bacon, the founder of the hedge fund Moore Capital Management, has been fighting Mr. Nygard’s attempts to expand his beachfront land holdings, asserting that he has been illegally and surreptitiously adding to the size of his compound to the detriment of the local environment. The suit argues that Mr. Nygard has also commercialized his property, turning it into a celebrity party hangout and that he has ignored a government order in 2010 to limit his building activities. Mr. Bacon, who has bought up and preserved vast tracts of land in New Mexico and Colorado, also owns a grouse-hunting estate in Scotland and an undeveloped island off the Long Island coast. Since 1993 he has owned a retreat in the Bahamas that abuts Mr. Nygard’s ever-expanding compound. Mr. Nygard, in turn, has attacked Mr. Bacon directly and indirectly in the Bahamas via articles in the news media and videos online. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Nygard has hired journalists to write articles that paint Mr. Bacon as a murderer, drug trafficker and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. A lawyer for Mr. Nygard, Richard Good, said in a statement: “Today’s lawsuit is a continuation of Louis Bacon’s malicious campaign against Peter Nygard with the objective of obtaining Mr. Nygard’s Bahamian property (Nygard Cay), through illegal means, and to wrongfully continue to damage Mr. Nygard’s businesses and reputation.” Mr. Good added that Mr. Nygard would file a countersuit in New York. Mr. Bacon’s lawsuit asserts that Mr. Nygard has hired outsiders like the Nation of Islam preacher Louis Farrakhan to support his claims in the Bahamas that Mr. Bacon is a racist.

Bank of America $17B pact still being haggled over (NYP)
The Justice Department’s mammoth $17 billion proposed settlement with Bank of America, expected to be inked last week, is still being haggled over, sources said. In recent weeks lawyers have been focusing on consumer relief and the statement of facts among other terms, three sources have said. An immense amount of paperwork and concerns about wording in the settlement are taking up much of prosecutors’ and BofA lawyers’ attention, three people said. The relief for individual states is another point that could potentially collapse, but is largely settled, two of those people said…New York, California, Illinois and Delaware are the four states that are angling for a bigger share of the relief, The Post has learned from two sources. The four states, along with the US Treasury, are looking to get a chunk of about $9 billion, with the rest going to consumer relief, two people said. The deal is now expected to be announced early next week, according to sources, roughly three weeks after the bank agreed to the broad outlines of the deal.

Four bidders vying for Barclays indexing unit (NYP)
Bloomberg, Standard & Poor’s, MSCI and financial data firm Markit are each in talks to buy the index group, sources said. The discussions are early, one source added — saying they were in the first of two expected rounds of talks. The indexing unit makes money by licensing its formula to companies looking to mimic its returns. The indexes, largely made up of bonds and currencies — collectively known as fixed income — attract billions in assets. The two largest bond exchange-traded funds, run by Vanguard and iShares, both use Barclays’ bond benchmarks as their gauges, and collectively have more than $30 billion in assets, according to data from Bloomberg News. PIMCO, the largest bond fund in the world, also uses Barclays indexes for investing.
Barclays inherited the indexing group after the bank bought the crashed Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Gift of GQ Magazine Prompts Outcry From Lands’ End Customers (NYT)
The free magazine was meant as a gift from Lands’ End — the retailer known for its conservative, sturdy clothing — to its most valued customers. But when the July issue of GQ landed in mailboxes across the country, the cover model was not wearing a monogrammed oxford or polar fleece. Instead, she was topless except for a strategically placed white flower lei. And some of the company’s shoppers were none too pleased. “My 14-year-old son brought in the mail today & was quite disturbed & fascinated by a ‘gift’ Lands’ End sent us — a copy of GQ magazine with an absolutely OBSCENE cover!!!,” wrote one mother on the company’s Facebook page, which filled up with dozens of complaints. “I am appalled that Lands’ End — which I have always thought of as a ‘wholesome,’ family-oriented company — would be the one to expose my son to pornography!” Another said: “We received your ‘Lands’ End Bonus’ of GQ magazine this weekend, and we are absolutely horrified. How can buying something as family friendly as school uniforms lead to soft porn in the mailbox? I’m thankful my son did not bring in the mail.” […] By Wednesday, the negative reaction had grown so strong that the retailer issued a mea culpa to its shoppers. “I would like to start by extending my most sincere apologies,” Edgar Huber, the chief executive of Lands’ End, wrote in an email. “We are aware that you have received or will be receiving shortly the July issue of GQ magazine with a suggestive cover.” Mr. Huber explained that GQ, a men’s magazine, was included as part of the subscription offer “since we did not want to exclude our male customers.” He also wrote, in bold letters, “There are simply no excuses; this was a mistake.”

U.S. Jobless Claims Rise, But Remain Near Eight-Year Lows (WSJ)
Initial claims for unemployment benefits increased by 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 311,000 in the week ended Aug. 9, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was more than the 295,000 new claims forecast by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal and the highest level since June.

Euro zone economy grinds to halt even before Russia sanctions bite (Reuters)
Euro zone economic growth ground to a halt in the second quarter as Germany’s economy shrank and France’s stagnated. The zero growth reported by statistics agency Eurostat on Thursday was cause for alarm throughout the 18-nation region, which is already bracing for the impact of sanctions imposed on and by Russia over Ukraine. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, contracted by 0.2 percent in the quarter, undercutting Bundesbank forecasts that gross domestic product would be unchanged. Foreign trade and investment were notable weak spots, the German Statistics Office said on Thursday.

Kinder Morgan deal at the centre of price fixing court battle (FT)
Rich Kinder, the Kinder Morgan founder who on Sunday unveiled a $44bn consolidation of a family of companies to create the US’s third-largest energy company, owes no small part of his $10bn-plus personal fortune to a 2006 deal that is now at the centre of a courtroom battle. The one-time Enron executive who bought its physical pipeline assets to form Kinder Morgan spearheaded a management-led buyout of his company that year for $14.6bn, a deal that valued his then 18 per cent stake at $2.63bn. Less than four years later, Kinder Morgan returned to the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of more than $21bn, creating huge paper profits for Mr Kinder – who by then had amassed a 30.6 per cent stake worth $6.5bn at the IPO price – and his backers from Goldman Sachs’s private equity unit and Carlyle, the buyout group. Kinder Morgan’s 2006 take-private deal is now under scrutiny in a lengthy US court case, brought by disaffected public company shareholders that allege private equity groups conspired to fix prices on eight buyouts by agreeing not to compete against each other by “jumping” on their rivals’ deals.

Maserati Patrol Car Raises Police Suspicions (AP)
Police patrol cars are usually Fords or Chryslers, not Maseratis. So when a patrolman in Braintree, Massachusetts, spotted a Maserati resembling a police cruiser over the weekend, he pulled it over. Deputy Chief Wayne Foster tells The Patriot Ledger the luxury Italian vehicle’s body was painted black and white with a police-style shield on the doors, and police-related decals. Foster said the door shield wasn’t accompanied by the usual police phrase “Protect and Serve,” but rather with “Decepticons punish and enslave.” The driver told the officer who pulled him over that he was actually assisting police “because other drivers noticed him and slowed down, thinking it was a police vehicle.” The driver, whose name was not made public, was summoned to court to face a charge of impersonating a police officer.

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

  1. Posted by ThatsWacc | August 14, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Yeah lady, I'm sure your son was real "disturbed" by the picture.

    – Former 14 year old who isn't buying it

  2. Posted by Shaz's beard | August 14, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Only the Amish and Shazzy jack it to GQ or the Sears catalogs anymore.

  3. Posted by Guest | August 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    You can never trust a Nygard don't cha know

    – Both Mrs. Nygards

  4. Posted by HotKarl | August 14, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    This site can never have enough Jeff Gundlach stories.

  5. Posted by Bacon's Bits | August 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Yeah he's a prick when dealing in land disputes, but if you don't have at least 3 reasons why you deserve and extra 20 bucks a week in allowance, my dad can be a REAL asshole

  6. Posted by Rebecca M. | August 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    "My 14-year-old son brought in the mail today & was quite erect & promptly masturbatory to the 'gift’ Lands’ End sent us…"

    Fixed for reality

  7. Posted by Rebecca M. | August 14, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Fuckin' auto correct

  8. Posted by Guest | August 14, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    I'm quite sure that GQ was also the first time he had been exposed to pornography.

    – Guy who has used the internet (but also remembers the days of having to struggle to see a tit through the scrambled porn channels and wishes kids had it tougher these days)

  9. Posted by Lord Humongous | August 14, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    I'm sure the only disturbance was in his undiepants

  10. Posted by Guest | August 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    In these trying economic times I have had to succumb to watching Robin Byrd on public access. Thats low.

  11. Posted by Guest | August 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    I'm not unconvinced that isn't Patrick Swayze

  12. Posted by Not fair | August 14, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Chicks always have a helpful 'uncle' around to help them with their disturbances after browsing the A&F catalog.

  13. Posted by Guest | August 14, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    "It moved."

    14 year old son who happened to bring in the mail that day.

  14. Posted by Guest | August 14, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    "How can buying something as family friendly as school uniforms lead to soft porn in the mailbox? "

    This….is serious question?

    – Japanese salaryman

  15. Posted by Guest | August 15, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    How could he have been impersonating a police officer? I mean, he was just driving around. Its not like he was shooting unarmed civilians or detaining journalists or choking people to death in broad daylight. Cut him some slack.

  16. Posted by Hipster | August 15, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Don't cut yourself on that edginess.