Opening Bell: 03.17.09

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Goldman Offers Loans To Stretched Employees (NYT)
The offer is set up to address the investments employees have in certain in house funds, which can make calls for further capital. Those employees that are unable to meet the calls are at risk of losing their jobs (via contractual obligation - though those may have very little to no value going forward depending on political whim).
"A spokesman for Goldman Sachs confirmed the existence of the loan program but declined to elaborate. The funds that are the most troubled were raised right before the financial crisis. Goldman raised $20 billion in its most recent private equity fund and some $9 billion in the Whitehall real estate funds in 2007 and 2008.
About a third of the money in the funds typically comes from Goldman and its employees, and since 1991, the bank and its employees have accounted for $7.5 billion of the $26 billion in the Whitehall funds."
Citi And Morgan Stanley Look To Sidestep Bonus Cap (Reuters)
In what can only be defined as "expected", the banks are starting to try to work their way out of the cap imposed by the President and Congress, though I think they're moving a little quick on this one. Traditionally, the words "be patient" are of value; it wouldn't hurt anything to appear to be toeing the line for a little while.
"Executives at these banks and other financial institutions that received government aid are discussing increasing base salaries for some executives and other top-producing employees, the paper said, citing people familiar with the situation.
[...]
Citigroup officials have considered designating which 25 executives will be subject to bonus limits, the paper said, citing people familiar with the discussions.
In that scenario, the new rules might not apply to lower-ranking yet still highly lucrative traders and investment bankers, the people told the paper.
"We will comply with the restrictions, in addition to the substantial changes we have already made to our compensation structure," a Citigroup spokeswoman told the paper."
Swiss Playing "Old Man" At Tax Laws (FT)
You have to really appreciate Swiss methodology. "Oh sure we'll help! Now, where did I put my glasses.."
"Switzerland has warned countries against expecting swift results from its decision last week to water down bank secrecy laws, saying it could take years for the necessary legislation to come into action.
Hans-Rudolf Merz, Switzerland's finance minister, said renegotiating the country's more than 70 double taxation treaties "won't be so fast" as each would have to be approved individually by the country's parliament."
UBS In more Hot Water (Reuters)
"Luxembourg financial regulator CSSF, which is looking into the case, said [UBS] had to ensure at all times that the money invested in the products was actually there and has given Switzerland's largest bank three months to make changes to UBS' custodian bank in the wake of Madoff's arrest.
UBS has rejected the calls to reform its Luxembourg operations and said it would defend itself vigorously as it did not believe that the CSSF was correct."
Larger US Companies Stepping Up Against President's Proposals (Bloomberg)
"Not in this economy.
That's Intel Corp.'s argument against new taxes on overseas income. It's Overstock.com Inc.'s objection to making unions easier to form. Ditto Lockheed Martin Corp.'s case against scrapping production of the F-22 jet.
U.S. companies are stepping up their fight against President Barack Obama's proposals not aimed squarely at reviving the economy. They say Obama is trying to do too much, taking the focus off fixing credit markets and proposing ideas that may hurt rather than help."

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