Opening Bell: 08.04.10

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HSBC In Money Laundering Probe (WSJ)
A spokesman for HSBC in the U.K. said the investigations relate primarily to HSBC's "global banknotes" business, whereby HSBC ships banknotes around the world on behalf of clients, mainly from central banks to major commercial and investment banks. It also concerns what HSBC describes as its "foreign correspondent" business, which allows businesses to transmit funds to countries where they don't have a banking presence.

RBS Fined Over Sanctions Slip (FT)
The bank has been fined £5.6m – one of the largest penalties ever imposed by the financial regulator – for failing to ensure that funds were not transferred to terrorist groups or other people facing Treasury sanctions. RBS was punished for having insufficient checks in place to identify payment transactions that could potentially have involved those on the Treasury’s sanctions list. This resulted in an “un­acceptable risk” that RBS could have facilitated payments to terrorist organis­ations.

Geithner: Bush Policies 'Misguided,' Should Be Ended (Reuters)
"We are living today with the damage that misguided policy caused,'' Geithner said, adding that country needed to choose a new course. "Rather than recreating a false prosperity fueled by debt and passing the bills on to the next generation, we need to restore America to a pro-growth tax and fiscal policy,'' he said.

Dual Role In Housing Deals Puts Spotlight On Deutsche Bank (WSJ)
Deutsche says that helping investors bet either way—either for or against an asset—is part of doing business for a securities firm. "Some clients sought more exposure to the housing market, while others sought less," a spokesman for Deutsche said. "We served clients whatever their investment objective, but only after being satisfied that they had arrived at their view after thorough consideration."

Forget Doom, Old-Fashioned Rally Coming (CNBC)
"Risk aversion is the new black and the professors and black swans are falling over themselves to predict the collapse of a debt-laden economy," Michael Browne told CNBC. But results from the banks indicate that things are getting better, he said. "Almost all come up with the same pattern…they are lending again to small and mid-sized corporations and would like to lend more but there is no demand, especially from large corporations who are funding themselves from a very cheap market," according to Browne. "Individual lending is also showing signs of life. So if on top of this you get the consistent pattern of falling provisions then they are telling me that the economy is recovering. Rather faster than we should have expected," he added.

Hedgers On Ledge (NYP)
The proposed tax was yanked from the state budget, which finally passed last nightt...but hedge-fund pros fear the tax may rise from the dead. "States will be under financial pressure for years to come," said Orin Kramer, a New Jersey resident who runs a Manhattan hedge fund. "So if there are people in office who think it's a good idea today -- assuming they're still in office next year -- there's no reason to believe they would think otherwise."

Beijing Billionaire Who Grew Up With Mao Sees No Housing Bubble (Bloomberg)
Zhang says she’s well aware of the chorus of investors and economists who predict that China’s property boom is about to go bust, taking the global economy down with it. The doomsday scenarios don’t intimidate Zhang, a onetime penniless sweatshop worker who ascended to Wall Street by defying the odds. She hopes to prove skeptics wrong again this year by betting hundreds of millions of dollars on new buildings in Beijing and Shanghai. “I don’t see any bubbles,” says Zhang, dressed in a white V-neck zippered top, black slacks and red heels. “The next few months will be a fantastic time to buy.”

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