Opening Bell: 03.04.09

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Senate To Grill UBS AG Officer (Reuters)
The grilling is probably going to come off more like a Jack Russell terrier on Adderall, but none the less you have to pay attention when a member of our beloved elected starts yapping at the Swiss. Center stage is whether or not UBS should have turned rat on the US citizens with bank accounts over there for an ongoing tax probe; this quote pretty much sums up the damned if you do, damned if you don't nature of the situation:
"The Michigan lawmaker told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday that the hearing will also focus on a U.S.-Swiss tax treaty he described as having "very, very limited value." He said, "You can't rely on the Swiss. That's the bottom line.""
In related news, Bloomberg has it that UBS has announced a new Chairman: Kasper Villiger, former Finance Minister.
"Kurer's departure comes less than a week after UBS called former Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Oswald Gruebel, 65, out of retirement to replace CEO Marcel Rohner. Villiger, 68, will step down from board positions at Swiss Reinsurance Co, Nestle SA and Neue Zuercher Zeitung if elected by shareholders on April 15, the Zurich-based bank said today."
The Unequal Nature Of Recessions (NYT)
An interesting map of unemployment across the United States. It's a little too easy to think that the rates handed down are equally distributed; when we look at California (while a subset of US GDP, still one of the larger economies in the world) we see an average of somewhere near 10% -- far more ominous than the 7% figure.

Cuomo's Head Set To Erupt, Merrill Top 10 Make $209MM
(WSJ)
You'll hear the pop in Anchorage, guaranteed.

The Wall Street Journal has identified most of the top 10 executives and their compensation levels from documents and interviews with people familiar with Merrill's compensation. Merrill's 10 highest-paid employees got a total of $209 million in cash and stock in 2008, up slightly from $201 million paid to the top 10 a year earlier, according to the figures reviewed by the Journal. In 2007, 28 Merrill employees were paid more than $10 million. That total doesn't include Merrill's private-client group, where its brokers work.

Treasury To Drop Details On Mortgage Bailout (FT)
There's still three parts to this:
1) Increased funding to Mae/Mac to increase lending.
2) Low cost re-fi's for 4/5MM homeowners who took a bath on home values.
3) Incentives to servicers to modify mortgages.
It's the third part of the plan that's drawing the heat, as FT puts it:
"One concern is that servicers who respond to government incentive payments could be exposed to legal risk from disgruntled investors who bought securities backed by mortgages. These investors could claim that servicers eased the terms of mortgages to collect the government payment rather than because a modification was in the investors' best interest, lawyers and restructuring experts said."
Hairpiece's Lawsuit Takes A Vacation (Reuters)
"Real estate developer Donald Trump and his lenders agreed to temporarily suspend litigation on the Trump International Hotel & Tower project in Chicago, the Wall Street Journal said.
The agreement with the project's lenders, a group led by Deutsche Bank AG, gives the parties at least 90 days to negotiate a settlement over the 92-story development, where sales have fallen short of what is required to pay back a $640 million construction loan, the Journal said."


GM Tries For Euro Aid (FT)
American car manufacturers are headed across the pond in an effort to pull some cash from the now broker-than-shit EU, using 300,000 jobs as the candle.
"He described GM's two UK plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port as "very lean and productive." Gordon Brown's government has approved £2.3bn ($3.3bn) of loan guarantees for the entire car industry, but thus far resisted individual pleas for assistance from carmakers like GM and Jaguar/ Land Rover."

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