Opening Bell: 06.15.10

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One Crowd Is Still Loyal To Goldman Sachs (NYT)
Despite all the bad headlines — the accusations of fraud, the talk of a big settlement, the risk, however remote, of criminal charges — there’s an inconvenient truth that’s been largely ignored: Most of Goldman’s big customers are not bolting. “We trust them,” Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, told an audience at the 92nd Street Y in New York last month. “People need to tone down the rhetoric around financial services and stop the populism and be adults.” “I’m a big boy,” Mr. Pritzker told me. “I understand that they are in many businesses. I go into it with my eyes wide open.” He added, “I don’t feel any outrage, just the opposite.”

Blackstone's Wien Says Hedge Fund Returns May Halve (BW)
“I’m worried that by trying to protect capital on the downside they give up too much on the upside,” he said. “The concept of hedge funds was to produce equity-like returns with bond-like volatility. The danger is we get bond-like returns with equity-like volatility.”

Giving In on Trading, Bankers Turn to Other Losses (NYT)
Bankers have all but given up on defeating one of the most contentious provisions in the financial regulation bill — one that would effectively bar federally insured banks from trading for their own accounts — and are now focusing on battles like heading off a prohibition on derivatives trading.

BP Faces Grilling In Congress (Reuters)
McKay, the head of BP America, will be surrounded at the congressional hearings by executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell seeking to stave off repercussions for the industry. McKay's rivals are likely to hang him out to dry in a rush to prove their companies would never take such risks or face such failures as the spill that has poured millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. "This incident represents a dramatic departure from the industry norm in deepwater drilling," Exxon Mobil Chairman and Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said in prepared testimony.

US Targets $20 Billion BP Pay-Out (FT)
In a letter to Mr Hayward, Harry Reid said the creation of a $20bn account would serve as an “act of good faith” and would be an important first step in ensuring that BP would not delay or evade responsibility for damages.

Pickens: Investigation can wait, let BP work (AP)
"I don't know (if BP was negligent in the blowout), but I don't like the investigation going on when we're trying to fix the problem," Pickens told reporters Monday. "Because nobody's going to run off. We've got plenty of time to investigate it."

El-Elarian: Markets Pricing In Global 'Paradigm Change' (CNBC)
El-Erian said markets have shown four distinct characteristics lately: Volatility, interconnectedness, political sensitivity, and improbable movements. That behavior is a reaction to tenuous European economies and the realization that policy makers have few stimulative tools left should conditions worsen. As such, households have cut back on spending and decreased their debt even as governments have dramatically increased their own leverage. "We're starting to get people to realize that we're not in a 'V' anymore, (it's) more like a square root," he continued. "We're going to come back off (the bottom) and then we're going to level off at about 2 percent growth."

Bullfighter Christian Hernandez runs out of ring in Mexico, arrested for breach of contract
(NYDN)
Christian Hernandez, the 22-year-old terrified toreador, didn’t make excuses. "There are some things you must be aware of about yourself," he said. "I didn't have the ability, I didn't have the balls, this is not my thing."

Spain, Portugal Debt May `Snowball,' EU Draft Says (Bloomberg)
“While the newly announced measures are significant and the targets imply impressive budgetary consolidation, more measures are needed to meet those targets, in particular for 2011,” according to the draft report, which is dated May 26. The document, titled “Consolidation Requirement in Spain and Portugal,” was prepared by the European Commission for EU finance ministers.

Feds Weigh Options In Case Growth Ebbs (WSJ)
"If events in Europe evolve so that they have a more severe and broad impact on financial markets, then the scope of the problems for the U.S. could be magnified," Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said in a speech last week. Brian Sack, the head of the New York Fed's powerful markets group, has talked about "two-sided" risks to the economy—in other words, the risk that growth and inflation could turn out to be lower than expected, as well as higher. Some so-called hawks at the Fed—those officials who worry most about an increase in inflation—also have acknowledged risks on the economic horizon.

In Brazil, One Name Is Better Than Two (WSJ)
"It's madness that Dopey left Duck and Goose off the team," Mr. Silva, a shop worker in downtown São Paulo, says in Portuguese.

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Opening Bell: 05.14.12

JPMorgan Loss Claims Official Who Oversaw Trading Unit (NYTimes) The $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase will claim its first casualty among top officials at the bank as early as Monday, with chief executive Jamie Dimon set to accept the resignation of the executive who oversaw the trade, Ina R. Drew. Ms. Drew, a 55-year-old banker who has worked at the company for three decades and serves as chief investment officer, had repeatedly offered to resign since the scale of the loss became apparent in late April, but Mr. Dimon had held off until now on accepting it, several JPMorgan Chase executives said. Two traders who worked for Ms. Drew also planned to resign, JPMorgan Chase officials said. Her exit would mark a stunning fall from grace for one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, as well as a trusted lieutenant of Mr. Dimon...Former senior-level executives at JPMorgan said it was a shame that Ms. Drew has ended up suffering much of the fallout from the soured trade. They said that Thursday’s announcement of the $2 billion loss was the first real misstep that Ms. Drew has had and said that the position was not meant to drum up bigger profits for the bank, but rather to ensure that JPMorgan could continue to hold lending positions in Europe. “This is killing her,” a former JP Morgan executive said, adding “in banking there are very large knives.” Jamie Dimon: Trading Losses Are Not Life-Threatening (CNBC) “This is a stupid thing that we should never have done but we’re still going to earn a lot of money this quarter so it isn’t like the company is jeopardized,” he said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet with Press.” “We hurt ourselves and our credibility, yes — and that you’ve got to fully expect and pay the price for that.” Yahoo’s Thompson Out Amid Inquiry; Levinsohn Is Interim CEO (Bloomberg, earlier) Thompson, 54, was brought on to orchestrate a turnaround after Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. lured users and advertising dollars. Thompson’s undoing stems from erroneous biographical references to him as holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College. A former EBay Inc. (EBAY) executive, he earned a degree in accounting from the Easton, Massachusetts- based school, and the information is correctly listed in EBay regulatory filings and some Yahoo press releases. The incorrect degree showed up in Yahoo’s April 27 10-K filing, as well as on the company’s website. As part of the board changes, Daniel Loeb, chief executive officer of Third Point, joins as a director along with Harry Wilson and Michael Wolf. A fourth nominee, Jeffrey Zucker, said in today’s statement that he withdrew his nomination to allow a quick transition. Euro Officials Begin to Weigh Greek Exit (Bloomberg) Greek withdrawal “is not necessarily fatal, but it is not attractive,” European Central Bank Governing Council member Patrick Honohan said in Tallinn on May 12. An exit was “technically” possible yet would damage the euro, he said. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble reiterated in an interview in Sueddeutsche Zeitung that member states seeking to hold the line on austerity for Greece could not force the country to stay. LightSquared Moves Toward Bankruptcy Filing (WSJ) Hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone's LightSquared Inc. venture was preparing Sunday to file for bankruptcy protection after negotiations with lenders to avoid a potential debt default faltered, said people familiar with the matter. LightSquared and its lenders still have until 5 p.m. Monday to reach a deal that would keep the wireless-networking company out of bankruptcy court, and there were some indications over the weekend that a final decision hadn't yet been reached on its fate. Still, the two sides remained far apart, and people involved in the negotiations expected LightSquared to begin making bankruptcy preparations in earnest. Facebook cofounder living large in Singapore as he stiffs US for a possible $600M in taxes (NYP) Saverin is renouncing his US citizenship in favor of Singapore, the Southeast Asian city-state that has no capital-gains tax, where he has lived like royalty since 2009. The move already has saved him about $288 million in taxes, and will save him much more if he chooses to sell his $4 billion personal stake in Facebook, which goes public next week. “This pisses me off,” fellow tech-industry billionaire Mark Cuban spat on Twitter Friday upon hearing news of Saverin’s decision. Saverin’s spokesman has defended the move, claiming he has investments in the Far East, and Europe and the permanent move makes perfect sense. “Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” Saverin’s spokesman told Bloomberg. JPMorgan Unit's London Staff May Go as Loss Prompts Exits (Bloomberg) The entire London staff of JPMorgan Chase’s chief investment office is at risk of dismissal as a $2 billion trading loss prompts the first executive departures as soon as this week, a person familiar with the situation said. The firm is examining whether anyone in the unit, which employs a few dozen people in London, sought to hide risks, said the person, who requested anonymity because the deliberations are private. In Wake Of JPMorgan Loss, Rivals Fret About New Rules, Downgrades (WSJ) Over the weekend, rival banks scurried to explain why they believe a similar trading loss couldn't happen at their firm. Some companies pointed to moves already taken to reduce risk and sell off volatile and opaque assets such as derivatives on credit indexes. In a statement, Citigroup "has a small amount of straight-forward economic hedges managed at the corporate center to mitigate our credit exposure, principally relating to consumer loans." About half of that total is in cash, with most of the rest in U.S. Treasury bonds and other conservative investments. At Morgan Stanley, the portfolio most similar to J.P. Morgan's investment office is a $32 billion "available for sale" portfolio. The portfolio primarily consists of easily traded U.S. Treasury and government agency securities. It doesn't hold any derivatives instruments, a person familiar with Morgan Stanley's operations said. Goldman Sachs has no similar unit to the one at J.P. Morgan that suffered the loss. Apple Founder Wozniak to Buy Facebook Regardless of Price (Bloomberg) “I would invest in Facebook,” he said in an interview yesterday on Bloomberg Television. “I don’t care what the opening price is.” Missing: Stats on Crisis Convictions (WSJ) It is a question that has been asked time and again since the financial crisis: How many executives have been convicted of criminal wrongdoing related to the tumultuous events of 2008-2009? The Justice Department doesn't know the answer. That is because the department doesn't keep count of the numbers of board-level prosecutions. In a response earlier this month to a March request from Sen. Charles Grassley (R.,Iowa), the Justice Department said it doesn't hold information on defendants' business titles. "Consequently, we are unable to generate the [requested] comprehensive list" of Wall Street convictions stemming from the 2008 meltdown, the letter from the Department of Justice to Mr. Grassley said. Man Charged in Death Offers Victim's Foot for Deal (AP) A homeless man charged with killing and dismembering his friend says he can't remember much about the crime. But in a jailhouse interview, Leslie Sandoval told the Anderson Independent-Mail he remembers where he put the victim's missing left foot and is willing to tell a prosecutor if she will make him a deal. Sandoval says he went on a January drinking binge with Seth Foster. Foster's torso was found under an Anderson home, and his head, hands and right foot were found different places. Sandoval says he is confused about exactly what happened. But he disagrees with a coroner's finding he beat Foster and denies a claim from investigators that he confessed and gave them the knife used to dismember Foster.

(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 6.1.17

Morgan Stanley traders suffering the doldrums alongside BofA, JPMorgan; De Blasio gives Wells Fargo the boot; Mr. Met gives fan the finger; and more.