Opening Bell: 06.17.10

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Cracks Show BP Was Battling Gulf Well as Early as February (Bloomberg)
BP was struggling to seal cracks in its Macondo well as far back as February, more than two months before an explosion killed 11 and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It took 10 days to plug the first cracks, according to reports BP filed with the Minerals Management Service that were later delivered to congressional investigators. Cracks in the surrounding rock continued to complicate the drilling operation during the ensuing weeks. Left unsealed, they can allow explosive natural gas to rush up the shaft.

Jim Chanos Shorts Oil Majors, Ford Shares, Hasn't `Played' BP (Bloomberg)
The founder of Kynikos Associates Ltd. said in a Bloomberg Television interview from his office in New York that his bearish calls on “some” energy companies, which he declined to identify, pre-date the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. “If you look at their cash-flow statements relative to their income statements, you will see companies that haven’t replaced reserves in years, and haven’t seen any increase in revenues in years,” he said. “They’re borrowing their dividend. They’re in effect liquidating.”

Calpers Asking California For More Money (Reuters)
Just $600 mill, just to tide them over.

Dick Bove: Goldman Case Going To Court (TSC)
"The longer this takes, the more likely it is that this thing is going to go to court and I'm still convinced the SEC doesn't have a case," Bove said in an interview. He argues the government never wins high-profile cases against companies that go to court.

Swiss Parliament Backs UBS Data Pact (WSJ)
With the passage of the law, Swiss tax officials, who had suspended processing the 4,450 names, are ready to hand over data on 1,200 accounts, according to a government spokeswoman. So far, the Swiss have sent 500 names of clients who consented to the immediate transfer of their details to the IRS.

Reining In Europe's Deficits Is Just The First Step (FT)
David Cameron and Fredrik Reinfeldt: "Countries across Europe need fundamentally to change the way they deal with public finances so that debt crises of this magnitude can never happen again. That means that the stability pact must be taken seriously. There must be better safeguards against member states spending and borrowing too much and an early-warning system to identify problems before they get out of hand."

Union Boss Hog In $300k Hooker Scam (NYP)
"A married, obese former president of a Port Authority union admitted yesterday in court to embezzling nearly $300,000 in member dues and using the cash for tawdry hook-ups with prostitutes, casino trips and lavish meals, sources told The Post."

Nomura's Schiffman Plans Hiring Push for `Full Scale' U.S. Investment Bank (Bloomberg)
The firm plans to have about 100 bankers in the U.S. by the end of 2010, from about 65 currently, Glenn Schiffman, Nomura’s head of Americas investment banking, said in an interview this week at the firm’s New York headquarters at the World Financial Center. It has already recruited 50 bankers, he said.

Executives sound warning on hedge fund Ucits boom (Reuters)
"It's nonsense to create these liquid vehicles. It's much better to realise that hedge funds are an illiquid asset class," said Gerlof De Vrij, managing director of absolute return strategies at APG, which manages 240 billion euros (200 billion pounds) in assets. "We're not interested in Ucits funds. The focus on liquidity is something I don't understand."

Support Grows For EU Stress Test Disclosure (WSJ)
Both German and French finance ministries indicated they would support the publication of this year's test results on a country-by-country and bank-by-bank basis, a move they said could help put fears over the soundness of European banks to rest.

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Opening Bell: 11.16.12

JPMorgan Faces US Action (WSJ) Regulators are expected to serve J.P. Morgan Chase with a formal action alleging weaknesses in the bank's antimoney-laundering systems, said people close to the situation. The cease-and-desist order from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is part of a broader crackdown on the nation's largest banks, the people said. The OCC is expected to require J.P. Morgan to beef up its procedures and examine past transactions, these people said...The unusually blunt tone of the OCC's meetings with large banks on Nov. 8-9 spread quickly among bank executives. Some viewed the meeting as an attempt by the OCC to counter the perception that it had been too cozy with the banking industry and to step out of the shadows of the year-old Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been aggressive about publicizing enforcement actions and fines levied on banks. "It was a spanking," said one senior bank executive who didn't attend the meeting but heard about it from colleagues. "The message was, 'You are living in a world of zero tolerance,'" said another bank executive briefed on the meeting. FHA To Exhaust Capital Reserves (WSJ) The Federal Housing Administration's projected losses hit $16.3 billion at the end of September, according to an independent annual audit to be released Friday, a much larger figure than had been forecast earlier. The report suggests the FHA will require taxpayer funding for the first time in its 78 years, though that won't be decided until early next year. Citigroup Seeing FX Signals of Early End to Stimulus (Bloomberg) “Does the market really believe that the 2015 Fed is going to be constrained by the 2012 Fed?” Steven Englander, Citigroup’s New York-based global head of G-10 strategy, said in a telephone interview from New York. “The answer is ‘no.’” UK Bank Bailout Money ‘May Never Be Recovered’: Report (CNBC) “There is a risk that the 66 billion pounds invested in RBS and Lloyds may never be recovered,” Margaret Hodge, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, warned in a report into the sale of taxpayer-backed Northern Rock. Banks Seen Shrinking for Good as Layoffs Near 160,000 (Reuters) Major banks have announced some 160,000 job cuts since early last year and with more layoffs to come as the industry restructures, many will leave the shrinking sector for good as redundancies outpace new hires by roughly 2-to-1...Well-paid investment bankers are bearing the brunt of cost cuts as deals dry up and trading income falls. That is particularly the case in some activities such as stock trading, where low volumes and thin margins are squeezing banks. "When I let go tons of people in cash equities this year, I knew most would be finished in this business. It is pretty dead. Some will just have to find something completely different to do," said one top executive at an international bank in London, on condition of anonymity. Twinkies Maker to Liquidate, Lay Off 18,500 (Reuters) Hostess Brands, the bankrupt maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, said it had sought court permission to go out of business after failing to get wage and benefit cuts from thousands of its striking bakery workers...Irving, Texas-based Hostess has 565 distribution centers and 570 bakery outlet stores, as well as the 33 bakeries. Its brands include Wonder, Nature's Pride, Dolly Madison, Drake's, Butternut, Home Pride, and Merita, but it is probably best known for Twinkies — basically a cream-filled sponge cake. Lagarde on Greece: 'Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings' (Reuters) "It is a question of working hard, putting our mind to it, making sure that we focus on the same objective which is that the country in particular, Greece, can operate on a sustainable basis, can recover, can get back on its feet, can reaccess markets as early as possible," Lagarde said when asked about the possibility of a Greek deal next week. "It is not over until the fat lady sings as the saying goes." Alabama secessionist says working people must unite to save America, Bring Back His Topless Carwash (AL) “Derrick B.,” the man who started a petition seeking Alabama’s withdrawal from the U.S., is a truck driving, knife collecting former owner of a topless car wash who describes himself as “an absolute Libertarian.” Derrick Belcher, 45, of Chunchula, said in an interview late Monday that secession may be the only way to save working Americans from crushing debt, burdensome federal regulations and rising taxes. “I don’t want to live in Russia. I don’t believe in socialism,” said Belcher, an operations manager for a Mobile trucking company. “America is supposed to be free.” Belcher blamed the government for shutting down his former business. Belcher said his Euro Details car wash, which featured topless women, was successful for a decade on Halls Mill Road in Mobile. But he said he was arrested and charged with obscenity by city officials in 2001. “The government ripped my business away, and now they’re choking America to death with rules and regulations,” he said. Belcher said he fully expects the petition to reach 25,000 signatures -– in fact, he’s aiming far higher, saying he’d like to double that number to ensure that it is recognized by the White House. He said the petition got a jump start at a gun and knife show held at the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds last weekend. Tiger Global To Give Investors (Some Of) Their Money Back (NYP) Hedge-fund honchos rarely return capital voluntarily. Recently, Moore Capital’s Louis Bacon gave money back to investors, but it was because the poorly performing fund couldn’t find enough investing opportunities. That’s clearly not the case for Tiger Global, which has gained 25.5 percent so far this year. “We continue to believe that managing a smaller asset base gives us the best chance to generate strong returns over the long-term,” the managers wrote in a Nov. 9 letter to investors Journalist To Be Tried Again Over Swiss Bank List (Reuters) Greek journalist who published the names of more than 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts will stand trial again after a prosecutor appealed a decision to acquit him of breaking data privacy laws, court officials said on Friday. The speedy arrest, trial and acquittal of magazine editor Costas Vaxevanis for publishing the so-called "Lagarde List" had aroused international concern and captivated recession-weary Greeks angry at the privileges of the elite. The Athens Public Prosecutor's office said the November 1 acquittal was faulty and that Vaxevanis must be tried again by a higher misdemeanor court on the same charges. If found guilty, Vaxevanis could be jailed for up to two years or face a fine. T-Mobile customer stabbed while disputing bill (Philly) A customer who went to an Upper Darby T-Mobile store Tuesday to complain about his bill left with a stab wound to his abdomen that police said had been inflicted by an employee. Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the 59-year-old victim went to the store on State Road near Lansdowne Avenue about 1:15 p.m. to complain about being double-billed. What started out as a conversation between the customer and employee Darnell Schoolfield devolved into a physical confrontation, police said. During the fight, the customer ripped Schoolfield's name tag from his shirt and took the tag to the Upper Darby police station to file an assault complaint. "During the course of filing the complaint, he realizes he's bleeding profusely from the left side of the stomach," Chitwood said. "He'd thought he was just punched." The victim was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he had surgery and was listed in serious condition. It's unknown what Schoolfield used to allegedly stab the victim or how their interaction went so awry.