Opening Bell: 03.03.09

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JP Morgan Turns A Buck In 2008 (Bloomberg)
As I'm pretty sure banks making a profit is soon to be banned by Congress, I'm of the opinion is this reason enough for the entire street to celebrate. The Morgan girls (led by Zames of LTCM) managed to squeeze $5B out of its trading desk; speculation and rumors about, I'm sure the downside didn't hurt - Morgan is now one of the few strong names on the street.
"The JPMorgan trading desk, led by the 38-year-old Matt Zames, who previously worked at hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management LP, may have benefited as the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and JPMorgan's takeover of Bear Stearns Cos. left companies and hedge funds with fewer trading partners in the private derivatives markets. JPMorgan emerged "unscathed by the disasters" on Wall Street and positioned to capture more revenue as trading volumes grew, said Craig Pirrong, a finance professor at the University of Houston."
Madoff's Wife Ruth Says Her $62 Million 'Unrelated' to Fraud (Bloomberg)
"Ruth Madoff said she owns a Manhattan apartment, $45 million in bonds and $17 million in cash that are "unrelated" to an alleged Ponzi scheme by her husband, Bernard Madoff.
U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton, who is presiding over a lawsuit against Madoff by the Securities and Exchange Commission, filed an order yesterday modifying terms of an asset freeze on Bernard Madoff's property. As part of his order, he cited a claim by Ruth Madoff that some of her assets are separate from his.
Madoff's lawyers claim "only Ruth Madoff has a beneficial ownership" to a Manhattan apartment, about $45 million in municipal bonds on deposit at Cohmad Securities Corp., and approximately $17 million in cash in another account, Stanton said. Ruth Madoff says these assets are "unrelated" to the alleged fraud, Stanton wrote, citing her husband's lawyer. "
Tax Dodgers Make Axis Of Evil (Reuters)
"The Levin bill would ban patenting of tax avoidance plans, target dozens of offshore "secrecy jurisdictions" for attention, and put a greater burden on taxpayers to show that their tax arrangements are legitimate.
"Offshore tax haven and tax shelter abuses are undermining the integrity of our tax system," said Levin, of Michigan, in a statement. "We cannot tolerate $100 billion in offshore tax abuses burning a hole through our budget each year.""
[...]
"Three provisions have been added since last year to the Levin bill. One would classify U.S.-controlled foreign corporations as domestic for income tax purposes. Another would close an offshore tax dividend loophole that lets people dodge payment of U.S. taxes on U.S. stock dividends.
The third provision would expand tax reporting requirements for passive foreign investment corporations."
Bad Bank Plan Less Vague (WSJ)
There's more chatter about the Bad Bank plan; it looks like they still want private investment to lead the way (which isn't going to happen if it even smells like it could run the risk of opening whatever firm steps in to manage the assets to congressional nut-slapping), with the government providing the majority of the back-end funding. Outside of Congress shitting in their own sandbox, there are a couple of other problems with this, mostly political, which have led to consumer sentiment going into the tank. Long/short of it, the only way private capital gets into this is if you make the payout potential so huge they can't reasonably turn it down.


Citi Trying To Create Non-Core Partnerships (Reuters)
"Citigroup is looking to strike those types of partnerships with non-core assets like CitiFinancial, CitiMortgage, Primerica, Japanese brokerage Nikko Cordial and Citi's private-label credit card business, the paper said."
You really have to wonder who in the fuck is going to step up and buy Primerica; I would sooner buy herpes.

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