Opening Bell: 07.30.10

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From Tiananmen Square to Possible Buffett Successor (WSJ)
Twenty-one years ago, Li Lu was a student leader of the Tiananmen Square protests. Now a hedge-fund manager, he is in line to become a successor to Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway. Mr. Li, 44 years old, has emerged as a leading candidate to run a chunk of Berkshire's $100 billion portfolio, stemming from a close friendship with Charlie Munger, Berkshire's 86-year-old vice chairman. In an interview, Mr. Munger revealed that Mr. Li was likely to become one of the top Berkshire investment officials. "In my mind, it's a foregone conclusion," Mr. Munger said.

For Goldman Sachs, Remaking a Hub in Battery Park City (CityRoom)
On Wednesday night, members of a committee of Manhattan’s Community Board 1 heard about Goldman Sachs’s plans to upgrade a hotel next to its headquarters and to bring in Danny Meyer to open a Shake Shack, a Blue Smoke barbecue joint and a fancier restaurant in the complex, a block from the World Trade Center site.

Wyly Brothers Face SEC Fraud Charge (WSJ)
Billionaire brothers Sam Wyly and Charles Wyly hid $550 million in trading profits by using an "elaborate sham system" of offshore entities, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday. The civil suit, following a six-year probe, targets a pair of entrepreneurs in their mid-70s who amassed a fortune over more than four decades through ventures including Michaels arts and crafts stores.

Obama Making Sales Pitch for Auto Bailouts to Skeptical Voters (Bloomberg)
“We are going to get all the money back that we invested in those car companies,” Obama said on ABC’s “The View” program. The industry’s resurgence “tells a good story” about the U.S. economic recovery, he said.

Marc Faber Questions if Dow Could Hit 1,000 (CNBC)
Never say never?

Americans Buy IPads While Broke in New Abnormal Economy (Bloomberg)
In March, Ralph Ronzio went to a warehouse in a seedy part of Orange County, California, and watched a man auction off his condo for half what he’d paid for it. Ronzio had bought the place for $329,000 in 2005, when he moved to Southern California from Rhode Island to take a job at a data-storage company. It was the first place he’d ever owned. “It was totally my bachelor pad,” he says. “Not much inside other than the usual leather couch and the big screen TV. My fiancée made me sell the couch.” That wasn’t the only thing that changed when Ronzio got engaged. His fiancée had two young children, and there wasn’t enough room in the condo for all four of them. So last year, Ronzio bought a house nine miles away and they all moved in. He figured he could rent the condo and cover his costs. But the more he thought about the money he was losing, the more it stressed him out. Finally, Ronzio enlisted the help of a firm called You Walk Away and did exactly that from the remaining $319,000 on his condo mortgage. When the bank foreclosed, he says he felt a sense of relief. He also had more cash. He and his fiancée took the kids to Disneyland. Ronzio, 31, gave himself a treat as well. “I bought myself an iPad,” he says.

Nomura Said to Hire 40 Students as Global Bankers at Triple Pay (Bloomberg)
The college recruits, chosen from 650 candidates, will take up positions in investment banking, trading and other departments starting next April, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information isn’t public. They’ll be guaranteed a 6.5 million yen ($75,000) salary before bonuses, compared with 2.4 million yen for regular hires.

Hank Paulson: Housing policy must be set on sustainable basis (WaPo)
The best way to address the systemic risk posed by Fannie and Freddie is to shrink them by eliminating their investment portfolios — and their huge debt loads that put the financial sector at risk and necessitated a costly public rescue.

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