Opening Bell: 11.25.08

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Wachovia Execs Could See ~$100MM In Severance (DJNewswires)
Banking's bastard child from the south - the one that lost $33B in two flat quarters - is paying its top 10 people $98.1MM on leaving. I'm more curious about what happens after the merger - does Wells get greedy? They've now got enough assets to shore a massive investment arm, and here's enough talent on the street to build five banks; is anyone going to take advantage of the situation?
Goldman to Sell $2 Billion In FDIC - Backed Bonds (NYT)
" Goldman Sachs plans to sell at least $2 billion of new debt that will be guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, with pricing expected Tuesday, according to a market source familiar with the sale.
The debt will mature no later than June 30, 2012, the source said. Goldman Sachs is the sole bookrunner, while Citigroup and Morgan Stanley are joint leads, the source said.
The debt is guaranteed under the FDIC's Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, and investors are watching the deal as a test case for demand under the new program.
Citi Has A Credibility Problem (Reuters)
And, the light comes on. It's finally starting to sink in that Banks don't tell people everything, and that their repeated calls for transparency aren't gong unheard. Well, that's not fair: people hear you screaming they just don't give a shit (promise).
"Citigroup Inc's repeated assurances that it did not need additional capital, followed by its quick about-face in accepting billions of dollars in aid from the U.S. Treasury, has many investors wondering what other banks are hiding... "The biggest question is what, as the owner of bank stocks, do you really own?""
No, the biggest question is "why are investors holding bank stocks?" If you don't have all of the information you need to hold the security, here's a tip: you shouldn't be. You don't get to own bank stocks just because you want to, risk free.
Your House Is Worth Less, Or: How To Mislead the Public With A Worthless Headline (FT)
The median home price has fallen by 11.3%, reaching $183,300 according to the National Association of Realtors. But this doesn't necessarily mean your house is worth less (though, it probably is). For those of you too far removed from statistics, the median of anything is found by counting your way to the middle. There's no trending, smoothing, or averaging; it's much like finding your way to the middle of a ruler, just put a finger at both ends and slide it to the center: when you get there, you're home.
There's ways to skew the median so as to make it smaller, that have nothing to do with the price or your home (or even homes in your neighborhood). All you have to do is build houses that cost < $183,300, en masse.
What's more likely than a sudden shift in new construction, however, is that there was a shift in prices coupled with new construction of lighter/cheaper houses - but that, too, is pure conjecture.
Dubai Having A Bad Month (BBC)
Dubai is one of the few regions in the Middle East that isn't oil rich, which is causing some issues for the poor little fella here of late. The Government has had to pull two lenders out of the gutter, and state affiliated firms are sitting on $70B in debt; not bad for an area with only ~2.6MM people.
HSBC Going Forward (Reuters)
While the article touches on whether HSBC would look at Citi's assets (no one cares about that anymore) it clearly states as a byproduct where HSBC is going - and that they're intent on getting there. BRIC markets are still expanding, EM markets are going to grow into flourishing stabilized commerce centers - and HSBC sees itself in the middle of all of that.
Plus, they're not bitching or defending themselves, which seems fresh for some reason.
Google's Looking At Cutbacks To Contract Labor (Reuters)
Google currently houses about 10k contract laborers, of which some are going to get cut; is this a sign of things to come for the big G?

Thanksgiving Is Upon Us (USA)
A brilliant Holiday: we're celebrating our historical lack of love for all things sin. Some 300 - 600 years ago a bunch of people on boats set sail from England and landed in New England, the Fertile Crescent that it is. After prospering wildly they sent for their friends and a party was had; and that party is Thanksgiving.
For those of you not staying in the City this year, let's have a little chat: your parents/friends back home/uncles - pretty much anyone you've ever known from where you're from - are going to yell at you about the Economy. It's your fault. Sadly, I don't have any advice for you. I can tell you this: I'm going to Thanksgiving dinner dressed as a turkey. A big f*cking Turkey.
If they're going to blame me for the Economic woes of the over-spending middle-class, I'm coming armed with plumage.
--William Richards

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Opening Bell: 11.21.12

Germany Hints At More Financing (WSJ) Germany on Wednesday signaled its willingness to provide additional financing for the euro zone's bailout fund and accept lower interest on loans to Athens, in order to get the Greek rescue back on track and free the next tranche of about €44 billion ($56.40 billion) in loans for the euro zone's weakest member. Merkel Sees Chance For Greek Deal Monday (Reuters) "I believe there are chances, one doesn't know for sure, but there are chances to get a solution on Monday," Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament in a debate on the German budget. But the longing for one act, one miracle solution, one truth that means all our problems are gone tomorrow...this will not be fulfilled. What was neglected over years, over decades, cannot be taken care of overnight and therefore we will need to continue to move step by step." H-P Says It Was Duped (WSJ) The technology giant said that an internal investigation had revealed "serious accounting improprieties" and "outright misrepresentations" in connection with U.K. software maker Autonomy, which H-P acquired for $11.1 billion in October 2011. "There appears to have been a willful sustained effort" to inflate Autonomy's revenue and profitability, said Chief Executive Meg Whitman. "This was designed to be hidden." Michael Lynch, Autonomy's founder and former CEO, fired back hours later, denying improper accounting and accusing H-P of trying to hide its mismanagement. "We completely reject the allegations," said Mr. Lynch, who left H-P earlier this year. "As soon as there is some flesh put on the bones we will show they are not true." Analysts Had Questioned Autonomy’s Accounting Years Ago (CNBC) Paul Morland, technology research analyst at broking and advisory house Peel Hunt, told CNBC that he had noticed three red flags in Autonomy’s accounts in the years leading up to the HP acquisition: poor cash conversion, an inflated organic growth rate, and the categorizing of hardware sales as software. London Bankers Become Landlords as Rents Hit Record (Bloomberg) Vivek Jeswani became a landlord by accident when Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) transferred him to New York two weeks after he moved into a new home in central London. Now back in the U.K., Jeswani views the apartment in Baker Street, the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes, as one of his best assets and is about to buy another home to expand his rental business. “There are no other investments as attractive and you’ve got some security if you’ve got an asset you can use yourself,” the 36-year-old risk officer at China Construction Bank Corp.’s U.K. unit said. “There’s a good yield over 5 percent and being in central London, you’ve got demand domestically and internationally.” Trading Charges Reach SAC (WSJ) The hedge funds reaped $276 million in profits and losses avoided based on that information, criminal and civil authorities said—far dwarfing that of any previous insider-trading case. The bulk of the trading profits generated by Mr. Martoma was paid to Mr. Cohen, a person close to the hedge fund said. Fed Still Trying To Push Down Rates (WSJ) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the central bank will keep trying to push down long-term interest rates in 2013, as federal tax and spending policies become a more substantial headwind to the U.S. economy. "We will continue to do our best to add monetary-policy support to the recovery," Mr. Bernanke said at the New York Economic Club, answering a question about how the Federal Reserve would respond to impending spending cuts or tax increases that might restrain economic growth. 'Stiletto Surgery' alters pinky toe for better fit (Fox) These days, some women will do just about anything to fit into their favorite pair of high heels – including surgery. A growing number of women are paying thousands of dollars to surgically alter their feet just to make wearing heels a more comfortable experience. Surgical procedures such as shortening toes, receiving foot injections and even completely cutting off pinky toes are on the rise. “Unless you’ve been there, and you can’t find shoes, and you’re in pain, don’t judge,” said Susan Deming, a patient who recently underwent a toe-shortening procedure. Adoboli’s Fate Decided at Wine Bar as UBS Market Bets Unraveled (Bloomberg) On a cool late summer evening last year in London’s financial district, with the euro-zone crisis worsening and Greece tottering on the edge of default, Kweku Adoboli says he asked the three traders who worked with him at UBS AG’s exchange-traded funds desk to join him for a drink. Adoboli said in a post on his Facebook page that he needed “a miracle” as his bets on the market imploded. That night at a wine bar across the street from their office, Adoboli asked John Hughes, the senior trader on the ETF desk, and two junior traders, what to do. The others decided he should take the blame for billions of dollars in losses and an elaborate web of secret trades in what he called an umbrella account that once held $40 million in hidden profits. “I knew I was going to lose my job anyway, I had already resigned myself to that, so fair enough,” the 32-year-old Adoboli testified last month about the meeting, which the other traders deny took place. Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease (Bloomberg) Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week as damage to the labor market caused by superstorm Sandy began to subside. Jobless claims decreased by 41,000 to 410,000 in the week ended Nov. 17, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The number of applications matched the median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Soros Buying Gold as Record Prices Seen on Stimulus (Bloomberg) The metal will rise every quarter next year and average $1,925 an ounce in the final three months, or 11 percent more than now, according to the median of 16 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Paulson & Co. has a $3.66 billion bet through the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold-backed exchange- traded product, and Soros Fund Management LLC increased its holdings by 49 percent in the third quarter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. 'Cannibal Cop' Gilberto Valle planned to to cook up 'some girl meat' on Thanksgiving (NYDN) The "Cannibal Cop" had his own twist for a Thanksgiving dinner this year — cooking up “some girl meat,” prosecutors revealed Tuesday. Gilberto Valle, 28 — who allegedly kept a database of at least 100 women he plotted to rape, cook and eat — planned the freakish feast with one of his online conspirators earlier this year, prosecutors said. “I’m planning on getting me some girl meat,” he wrote to his pal on Feb. 9. “Really tell me more,” responded the friend. “It’s this November, for Thanksgiving. It’s a long way off but I’m getting the plan in motion now,” Valle wrote.

Opening Bell: 3.24.15

Deutsche Bank may cut 20% of investment bank; Greek blackmail; The latest NYC hotspot if you like to be monetarily "taken advantage of"; Women execs = $$$; "Real life Human Torch runs 645 feet while on fire"; and more.