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Opening Bell: 05.20.09

Banks Use Life Insurance To Fund Bonuses (WSJ)
"Banks are using a little-known tactic to help pay bonuses, deferred pay and pensions they owe executives: They're holding life-insurance policies on hundreds of thousands of their workers, with themselves as the beneficiaries.
Bank of America Corp. has the most life insurance on employees: $17.3 billion at the end of the first quarter, according to bank filings. Wachovia Corp. has $12 billion, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. has $11.1 billion and Wells Fargo & Co. has $5.7 billion. (Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia at the end of last year.)"
BAC Raises $13.7B In Share Sale (Reuters)
Bank of America is now about half way to its state goal of $33.9B, having raised $13.7B in this effort, and $7.3B from the dumping of China Construction Bank Corp holdings.
""We're pleased to have this portion of our capital plan completed," Chief Financial Officer Joe Price said in a statement. "This strengthens and diversifies our capital structure."
White House Calling For Death Of SEC (Bloomberg)
"The Obama administration may call for stripping the Securities and Exchange Commission of some of its powers under a regulatory reorganization that could be unveiled as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said.
The proposal, still being drafted, is likely to give the Federal Reserve more authority to supervise financial firms deemed too big to fail. The Fed may inherit some SEC functions, with others going to other agencies, the people said. On the table: giving oversight of mutual funds to a bank regulator or a new agency to police consumer-finance products, two people said."
Officials Weigh Having One Mortgage Regulator (WSJ)
"Senior Obama administration officials are discussing giving a federal agency authority to police mortgages and other consumer-oriented financial products as part of the government's broader overhaul of financial regulation, people familiar with the matter said.
The entity would aim to address what many critics perceive is a blind spot in the existing regulatory structure, which spreads consumer protection across multiple agencies."
The Low Down On The Lingerie League (CNBC)
"Well, honestly, as you guys all know, a lot of leagues have come and gone that have tried to directly compete in some way with the NFL. That's not what we're doing here. This is a fun Friday night out with you and your buddies or you and your girlfriends to watch lingerie football and be part of this Disneyland for football fans type setting that we're putting together in all the host stadiums and arenas."