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Opening Bell: 05.19.09

MS, JPM, and GS Looking To Repay TARP (Bloomberg)
The big three are looking to return the loot, and have filed to do so with proper authorities (they're seeking the permission of the Federal Reserve, which is not only necessary but important). The combined hand back would total about $45B, which should leave taxpayers elated.
"The refunds would be the first by the biggest banks that participated in the program. As of May 15, 14 of the smaller banks that received capital under the program had already repaid it, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."
US Home Starts Up In April (Reuters)
Home starts should hit 520,000 in April, up from 510,000 in March.
"Although starts may have found a bottom, a strong rebound in construction is unlikely," Moody's wrote in its weekly outlook. "The glut of homes is so large that a typical early-cycle rebound in homebuilding looks far out of reach."
Google Uses Algorithm To Prevent "Brain Drain" (WSJ)
"The Internet search giant recently began crunching data from employee reviews and promotion and pay histories in a mathematical formula Google says can identify which of its 20,000 employees are most likely to quit.
Google officials are reluctant to share details of the formula, which is still being tested. The inputs include information from surveys and peer reviews, and Google says the algorithm already has identified employees who felt underused, a key complaint among those who contemplate leaving."
BlackRock Draws Attention On Advising US (NYT)
"It makes sense for the government to turn to financial experts for help, but BlackRock has become so ubiquitous that some lawmakers, federal auditors and watchdog groups are now asking if the firm does too much, and if its roles as government adviser, giant federal contractor and private money manager will inevitably collide."

Local Banks Face Big Losses
Commercial real-estate loans could generate losses of $100 billion by the end of next year at more than 900 small and midsize U.S. banks if the economy's woes deepen, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.

Credit Cards Aim To Profit On Credit Worthy (NYT)
Penalizing credit worthy holders is the first step towards fucking yourself; we consolidate our debt, if any, away from those holders that choose to up our fees - if only because we have that luxury.
"Now Congress is moving to limit the penalties on riskier borrowers, who have become a prime source of billions of dollars in fee revenue for the industry. And to make up for lost income, the card companies are going after those people with sterling credit.
Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups."
HSBC Thinks Consolidation Could Be Next Big Thing (Reuters)
"HSBC Holdings, Europe's biggest bank, expects to see consolidation in the financial industry later this year and in early 2010 that will create buying opportunities, Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan said on Tuesday.
"We always have a history of acquiring things while others have to sell," Geoghegan said in a response to a question at a shareholders' meeting."