Opening Bell: 11.13.08

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Citi Considering New Chairman? (Reuters)
The BOD, dissatisfied with the performance of the company, may be moving to seek new leadership. The majority of this article is blatant conjecture, so we'll skip the thriving analysis and just jump to the point: replacing the chairman at this point would probably send a strong signal to shareholders.
UBS Numbers: 1 Broker, 20,000 people, 20B (WSJ)
You have to really, really try to help 20,000 people dodge taxes on 20 billion USD. Not only does it take talent, my friends, but the level of commitment is unreal.
[Indictment, via WSJ]
Lower Oil Prices Drive Russia And Kuwait To Craig's List For Money (Bloomberg)
"Oil, Russia's chief export, has fallen 63 percent since the July-high of $147. The ruble has plunged 21 percent against the dollar in the past four months, even as the central bank sold 16 percent of its currency reserves in an attempt to arrest declines. Reserves dropped $9.2 billion last week to the lowest this year at $475.4 billion, central bank said today. "
Historically, when Russia has been faced with tough times they've chosen to go one of two routes:
1) Nationalize everything, execute dissenters, and form food lines.
2) Start a War.
Given the recent trends in Russia's social strata I wouldn't be surprised if a bit of both happened this go round. Leadership has been excising anyone with power and money that could plausibly stand in their way and they've excited the people - there's now wealth and pride, and that's something Russians have been without for decades. The war comes in when you realize that you can't just "make" money to keep all this BS alive, you actually have to have economic fundamentals to support it. So who do they take over (or try to take over)? Not a clue. I hear there's money on the interwebs. You should take over the interwebs, Russia.
Insurers Set For Failure (NYT)
Life Insurers have thus far remained relatively unscathed by the recent trends in finance, but there's strong signals that that's about to change. It looks as though Life Insurance companies have been quietly lining up at the Government tit waiting for TARP money to sweep in and save their collective asses. What makes insurance companies so much fun is that they're state counter-insured, such that if the insurance company goes out of business the state places the standing contracts with another insurance company that's approved to operate in that area. Now, the issue with this is that they have to see to the contract fulfillment, but they haven't taken any of the premiums to offset the risk of having to pay. Effectively, they're getting screwed. But, states can't afford to eat the money themselves, so if this happens on a wide enough scale, we could see a domino effect - that is until Pelosi buys the Insurance sector on behalf of the American People. Then we'll be fine.


GM Having Problems With Asset Sales (Bloomberg)
If you're bleeding cash it would make sense that you hold on to whatever is actually generating revenue for you, right? And then on the flip side, you figure that no one is going to buy a black hole for money: if something hasn't/won't generate revenue (profit) then there's no real reason to invest in it. It looks like what we're looking at as we step through this GM liquidation is a meeting of the two: GM has to sell the shit that's one day going to be profitable (despite the utter stupidity of this) so they can raise money to operate, and meanwhile, no one will buy any of it because they're scared that GM will go bust, and without the GM name still in operation none of this shit is profitable. Call Yossarian, see what he has to say.
Cuomo Files Subpoena, Seeks BoA Bonus Information (CNBC)
Cuomo says that BoA didn't respond to his informal request, to which BoA responds: we told him that the "Bank of America is not using TARP money for executive compensation or bonuses."
Good. All should be settled. No? What? You're filing a subpoena? Cool, McCarthy, you run with that Bull.
There's too much there that's patently similar to ignore the thought that A.G. Cuomo has modeled his career after that of the illustrious Jr. Senator from Wisconsin. Let's look at the highlights: McCarthy protected the American people from evil communists, Cuomo from evil Bankers. McCarthy abused his power to rise to fame, Cuomo is abusing his power in the rise. McCarthy fought his battles in the press, and engaged millions of Americans in fear and hate, Cuomo is fighting his battles in the press and attempting to engage millions of Americans in fear and hate. McCarthy would cast aspersions, he would require that people either defend themselves or are guilty by default, Cuomo is casting aspersions, assuming guilt and telling banks to prove innocence.
I think you can figure the rest out; the point is that if you don't watch this shit, it becomes the standard quo.

--William Richards

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