Opening Bell: 08.02.10

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HSBC, BNP profits top forecasts as bad debts tumble (Reuters)
Half-year profits for HSBC hit $11.1 billion, more than double the $5 billion of a year ago and above the average forecast of $9.1 billion from eight analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. BNP Paribas said net profit rose 31 percent to 2.1 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in the second quarter.

Goldman Details AIG Valuations (WSJ)
Goldman's memo acknowledged that "a certain degree of judgment was necessary" in valuing the CDOs because they were so thinly traded. Goldman said its prices were based on bids and offers and trades in "comparable instruments," as well as valuations it used for residential mortgage-backed securities and other assets that made up the CDOs. It also factored in the lack of liquidity in the credit markets and the complex make-up of many CDOs, which it said made the CDOs worth less.

Goldman Sachs faces public anger over plan to replace shops with designer restaurants near HQ (Telegraph)
Apparently delicious meat isn't "attractive" to the people who live near Goldman Sachs: The bank appears to be falling foul of its neighbours' demands for basic services such as a supermarket and a hardware store. Out will go a DSW shoe shop, a recently closed New York Sports Club gym, and a pizza takeaway from buildings attached to 200 West Street, of which Goldman is the landlord. In will come a trio of restaurants run by Danny Meyer, including a Blue Smoke, as well as a new ballroom and conference centre, attached to the hotel which will be upgraded. In addition, the bank plans 5,000 square feet of retail units. "It appears that Goldman has no intention of replacing this retail tenant with one more attractive to the community," said long-term area resident Tom Goodkind of the closing of the shoe outlet at a meeting of the area's community board last week. "This loss of space seems to break the promise made to our community," when Goldman originally got permission to purchase the building four years ago, he added.

Alan Greenspan: Economy Is 'Touch And Go' (CNBC)
The US economy is in the middle of a pause in a modest recovery that feels like a "quasi-recession," Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said Sunday. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Greenspan said if home prices start falling again, we could be facing a double-dip recession. "It's touch and go," the ex-Fed chairman said. Greenspan said that if prices stabilize, "then I think we will skirt the worst of the housing problem."

Is Andrew Cuomo Ready To Take Over The Family Business? (NYM)
When Mario served as lieutenant governor, he decided to live part-time with his son, then at law school in Albany. I asked Mario if he roomed with Andrew for the fun of being together, which is how that time is often characterized. He seemed surprised by the question. “Our family couldn’t afford to do a lot of things for fun,” he said. The lieutenant governor had to provide his own housing; sharing an apartment was a way to save money. For Andrew, his father’s motives were simpler still. “He was just trying to slow down my bedroom activity,” he says. (Mario, a virgin when he married, hung a Virgin Mary in the apartment.)

German Minister Calls for Bailout Repayment (Dealbook)
The German economics minister Rainer Bruederle told the financial daily Handelsblatt that Commerzbank, the second-largest German lender after Deutsche Bank and the recipient of an 18 billion euro bailout, ought to pay the government back within three years. “There’s almost nothing worse than a government stake in banks,” Mr. Bruederle, an economic liberal, told the newspaper. “That has to stay an absolute exception.”

UBS to Hire Goldman, BofA Execs (Reuters)
The bank said on Sunday it plans to hire executives from Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Bank of America Corp to build its mortgages and lending business in the U.S.

Emirates to Cut Data Services of BlackBerry (NYT)
“In their current form, certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns for the U.A.E.,” said the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, a government body in the Emirates.

Lindsay Lohan released from jail (NYP)
The actress was released from Los Angeles County jail at 1:35 a.m. PST after spending 14 days behind bars. Lohan was apparently able to avoid the throngs of paparazzi staked outside the jail by not exiting through the front entryway.

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