Opening Bell: 02.24.09

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Thain Can Testify, Cuomo Soils Pants (Reuters)
The fun just doesn't stop boys and girls: it looks like Cuomo has won the right to question the ever living shit out of Thain (and by extension, perhaps anyone else?) in re: who got what, pay scale wise. It's comforting.
"A judge on Monday ruled that former Merrill Lynch & Co Chief Executive John Thain is free to disclose the names of individuals who received bonuses awarded by the former investment bank before it was bought by Bank of America Corp.
The ruling by New York State Supreme Court Justice Bernard Fried is a victory for state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who filed a motion in court on Monday to compel Thain to testify about bonuses awarded to individuals other than Merrill's top five executives."
William Isaac Says Bank Nationalization Isn't The Answer (WSJ)
In direct response to Greenspan (it appears), Isaac (who may actually know his shit) has come forward with some compelling thoughts about nationalization.
"So-called experts frequently cite the success of the Swedish experience with bank nationalization in the last decade. Nothing could be less relevant. Sweden's population, economy and banking system are roughly the size of Ohio's. Sweden's largest bank is roughly 10% the size of each of our three largest banking companies. Moreover, Sweden nationalized only Gota Bank -- and that was after it had already collapsed."
UBS Fights For Names In Court (Reuters)
"UBS AG shares fell to a new all-time low on Tuesday after news the Swiss bank will have to wait until July to fight in court a U.S. bid to force it to disclose client names in a tax fraud probe.
UBS, the world's largest banker to the rich, agreed last week to pay a $780 million fine and disclose the identity of about 300 of its U.S. clients to avert criminal charges, raising hopes the troubled bank could end its U.S. legal problems."
AIG May Convert Government Held Shares To Common (Bloomberg)
It looks like AIG is considering a move to common shares to kill the dividend associated with the preferred shares. The problem is AIG is currently paying 10% on their preferreds - which makes you wonder whether the responsible/rational Government move would have been to set that at LIBOR to start with.
Not that the government is one for responsible/rational.
""Paying a huge dividend on the preferred only makes you bleed slowly over time, so this would help," said Robert Haines, an analyst at CreditSights Inc. in New York. AIG is facing a "huge potential loss on its investment portfolio," which could lead to credit-rating downgrades, he said."
UAW Concedes To Ford, There May Be Hope Yet (NYT)
In what could be a turning point for the negotiations with auto makers, the United Auto Workers has agreed to Ford's stance on retiree health plans. I understand that this is going to hurt a lot of people, and that's not exactly a point of joy for anyone - but the fact remains that it's one step closer to a solvent company. Besides, there's an underlying current here that's really to blame for all of this: people are living far too long. I'm talking Social Security, retirement bene's, hell - even my parents planning for retirement. Too long people.
AIG Gets Bid From MetLife, Axa (Reuters)
This has to be embarrassing. I'll leave it at that.
"American International Group Inc received bids from MetLife Inc and Axa SA for its American Life Insurance Co unit, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the situation.
MetLife made a preliminary offer of $11.2 billion for the life insurer, a price that may drop to about $8 billion because of a deterioration in the unit's financial condition, the people told the agency.
A rival bid from Axa excludes operations in Japan, the unit's biggest market, the people told the agency."

CNBC's Big Insight Of The Week (CNBC)
Gold is heading to 3k people. Adjust portfolios accordingly.

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