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Opening Bell: 12.12.08

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Bernie Madoff Death Watch (NYP)
Which is more likely: an investor takes a hit on Madoff or a Madoff investor kills himself? Sayeth the Post:

Suicide hotlines in Greenwich, Conn., could be lit up today as investors in the posh suburb begin to realize how much they've lost in the rip-off scheme perpetrated by Wall Street legend Bernard Madoff.
Groups known to have worked with Madoff in the past include alternative-asset manager Fairfield Greenwich Group, the Nomura Bank of Japan, and Swiss asset-management firm NPB New Private Bank.
Sources tell The Post that Madoff managed money for Fairfield Greenwich through a $7 billion hedge fund called Fairfield Sentry, which Nomura and NPB offered to clients.

And these guys will probably be dead soon anyway but you never know:

Membership rosters at a number of Florida country clubs could be particularly hard hit by Mr. Madoff's alleged scheme, including Boca Rio Golf Club in Boca Raton and the Palm Beach Country Club in Palm Beach. Members of these clubs helped promote Mr. Madoff's services to the clubs' membership, though the clubs themselves weren't involved, club members said. Having money with Mr. Madoff was a symbol of prestige within these clubs, several member say.

BlackRock CEO Announces Cuts Have Been Made, Fidelity Cuts Looming (CNBC)
Erring on the side of brevity, CNBC announces:
1. BlackRock has made 500 cuts in days past, many of the positions part time according to Fink.
2. Fidelity is looking at cutting 3000 people through early 2009.
Goldman Compensation Fund To See $12B (Reuters)
The fund is down $8B from $20B, which means "Top bankers could see their bonuses shrink as much as 80 percent, while lower-level workers could see their bonuses fall 50 percent, the paper said."
While normally this would be cause for concern, I think anyone that gets more than a box of used condoms this year will be excited.
Fed Says 'No' to Bloomberg, Extends Middle Finger (Bloomberg)
Conspiracy theories abound, the Fed is denying the request by Bloomberg for insight into how/where/why about $2T has been invested during this turmoil under various programs. The Fed claimed they don't have to release information on "trade secrets and commercial information" and pointed out that they don't have to release internal memos under such requests.
Cue Senate bitching.
UBS Freezes $6B Property Fund (CNBC)
"Swiss bank UBS said on Friday it had frozen a $6 billion real estate fund as it could not keep up with redemption requests from wealth management clients.
The Jersey-based UBS Wealth Management Global Property Fund will be closed until the end of 2009."
Just a thought: wealth management clients are calling for redemptions to pay their IRS penalties?
Executive Accused In Mortgage Scheme (WSJ)
"Mr. Gordon, a former director of residential acquisitions at Bayview, made more than $2.8 million in additional commissions by altering the value of 2,800 loans from 2001 to 2006, according to documents filed by prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Miami."
I have the feeling that this is a sign of things to come: we should see hundreds of these cases pop up across the United States. The idea that bankers created this problem is as ludicrous now as the day it was conceived: this is a mom and pop shop issue that went big time, and I personally hope they get their asses handed to them.
PNC's Purchase Of National City Approved (Reuters)
"As a condition of the merger, PNC will sell 61 National City branch offices in western Pennsylvania with deposits totaling $4.1 billion. Once the merger is complete, PNC will have about $289 billion in assets and $180 billion in deposits."
--William Richards