Opening Bell: 02.23.09

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UBS Shares Dive On Tax News (Reuters)
The willingness of UBS to give the United States the names and money in settlement form has pissed off investors - though I can't imagine why - and led to calls for the resignation of UBS leadership from some parliamentarians. It's funny how short memories are, as Reuters has it the settlement was backed by the Swiss government.
Citi Scammed By Nigerians. Seriously. (NYT)

Swindles in which someone overseas seeks access to a person's bank account are so well known that most potential victims can spot them in seconds.
But one man found success by tweaking the formula, prosecutors say: Rather than trying to dupe an account holder into giving up information, he duped the bank. And instead of swindling a person, he tried to rob a country -- of $27 million.
To carry out the elaborate scheme, prosecutors in New York said on Friday, the man, identified as Paul Gabriel Amos, 37, a Nigerian citizen who lived in Singapore, worked with others to create official-looking documents that instructed Citibank to wire the money in two dozen transactions to accounts that Mr. Amos and the others controlled around the world.
The money came from a Citibank account in New York held by the National Bank of Ethiopia, that country's central bank. Prosecutors said the conspirators, contacted by Citibank to verify the transactions, posed as Ethiopian bank officials and approved the transfers.

Slumdog Millionaire Big Winner (CNBC)
The Oscars are a huge event for millions yearly, and given the recent downturns in the market and shortages in liquidity the timing seems pretty good - if only there were weekly events like this to keep consumers interests off daily happenings. Aside, Slumdog Millionaire seems to have taken the night by storm (though I'm not sure that was unexpected..) and I have it on good authority that Penelope Cruz was just hot enough to buckle your knees a little.
Also, importantly, CNBC has it that "Madea Goes to Jail" has locked up number 1 at the box office.
East Europe Looks For More Money (WSJ)
"European leaders called for doubling the International Monetary Fund's war chest to $500 billion for bailing out financially stricken nations, amid new signs that Europe's former Communist east is sliding into a full-blown crisis.
Europe's developing economies are facing their worst economic trauma since the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. Capital is fleeing Europe's east, sending currencies sliding and threatening the region with deep declines in output and employment, and a deluge of debt defaults. Poland's industrial output in January fell at a painful 15% annual rate; its currency last week hit an all-time low against the Swiss franc."
Of Budgets And Tax (FT)
"His first budget, released on Thursday, will show the deficit falling to $533bn (€415bn, £369bn) by fiscal year 2013, compared with an inherited deficit aides estimate at $1,300bn.
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Revenue from the sale of emissions permits under a cap-and-trade system will help pay for the deficit reduction, along with reductions in spending on the war in Iraq and higher taxes on wealthy individuals and businesses.
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The budget will allow the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 to expire after 2010. The top marginal income tax rate will rise to 39.6 per cent. The top capital gains tax rate will be set at 20 per cent.
However, hedge fund and private equity executives will be taxed on "carried interest" - their share of profits on investments - at the higher income tax rate rather than the lower capital gains tax rate as at present."
SEC Faces Scrutiny Over Trading Inquiry At Lehman (NYT)
"In a letter sent to the commission last Thursday, Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, asked Mary L. Schapiro, the chairwoman of the S.E.C., whether it had followed up on allegations that were brought to its attention last spring involving a unit at Lehman Brothers. Employees in the unit, known as the Product Management Group, appear to have tipped off clients and traders about the content of the firm's research reports before they were released, a former Lehman analyst said.
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According to the letter, the documents provided by Mr. Parmigiani indicate that officials in Lehman's Product Management Group routinely received research reports before they were made public. The case also raises questions of whether the content or gist of the reports was disseminated to select traders in advance."


UAE Steps In, Buys Dubai Debt (Bloomberg)
No one's having a good day, but Dubai is taking it as bad as anyone else -- not to mention I understand they still have debtors' prison.
"Dubai shares surged the most in three months after the United Arab Emirates' central bank bought $10 billion of Dubai bonds, easing concern that the emirate's companies will be unable to refinance debt.
Dubai, home to the world's tallest building, most expensive hotel suite and largest manmade islands, needs help to repay $15 billion of debt maturing this year, Moody's Investors Service said this month. The U.A.E. central bank is charging Dubai annual interest of just 4 percent on the five-year unse

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