Opening Bell: 02.20.09

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BofA's Lewis Subpoenaed Over Merrill; Thain Talks (WSJ)
How about everyone keeps their bonus and we can stop hearing about it?
"Bank of America Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis was issued a subpoena by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is investigating whether the bank withheld information from investors in violation of state law, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Lewis, who received the subpoena late last week, is the highest-profile subject of Mr. Cuomo's investigation into the Charlotte, N.C., bank's purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co. on Jan. 1. Mr. Cuomo's office is trying to determine if investors were misled about the depth of Merrill's losses in late 2008 and whether details of the bonuses to Merrill employees, contained in a nonpublic document, should have been disclosed to investors."
Prudential Looking To Expand (Reuters)
"Prudential Financial Inc (PRU.N) is leading the race to buy two Japanese life insurers put on sale by American International Group Inc (AIG.N) in a deal due to close next week, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
AIG Edison Life Insurance Co and AIG Star Life Insurance were put on the block last year as part of AIG's efforts to shed assets globally following a bailout by the U.S. government."
Hints Of A Credit Thaw (Bloomberg)
For those of you that can remember back far enough: this actually started as a liquidity problem. That the liquidity problem managed to catapult itself into equities isn't exactly unexpected, but it's a little off putting that there's any expectations that new found liquidity in the debt markets will in turn show growth in equities.
"Corporate bond trading in the U.S. is rising to the highest in two years, adding to evidence that credit markets are thawing even with stocks off to their worst start since the 1920s as the recession deepens.
An average $17.1 billion of corporate bonds traded daily this month, compared with $17.7 billion in January, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The business is up from last year's low of $9.4 billion in August and reached the highest level since February 2007, Finra data show."
Government Plans To Float Loans To Hedge Funds and PE Firms (NYT)
The Administration is planning on making available as much as $1T to hedge funds and private equity firms in hopes that they'll take the money and buy bundled loans. The only hedge funds I could imagine would take the money are the ones that are failing miserably, though: there's not a stable fund on the planet that would risk government intervention to source capital.
The BBC's Contribution To Our Graphics Filled Morning (BBC)
The BBC has and graciously provided this morning's chief source of entertainment: the bailout as expressed through nine graphics, with three part harmony.

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