Opening Bell: 08.13.10

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Credit Suisse, Barclays May Be Start Of Bank Hiring Freeze (Bloomberg)
“Now that trading revenues are dropping there’s a hiring freeze on,” said John Purcell, managing director at executive search firm Purcell & Co. in London. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see people shedding traders again.”

Papandreou's Summer Pay Cuts Keep Cash-Strapped Greeks at Home (Bloomberg)
Eleni Alexiou says she can’t afford to take her two children to a Greek island on vacation this year after the government axed her summer bonus and reduced her pay. “We’re not going anywhere, just any place that friends and family can put us up,” said Alexiou, 38, a state employee at a citizens’ advice bureau in Athens. “The crisis is the reason. The summer bonus has been cut. Everything’s gone up in price.”

Wall Street Bonuses To Rise This Year: Report (Reuters)
Incentives at financial firms should rise from 2009 levels but remain below the record payouts of 2007, according to compensation consultant Johnson Associates. Average compensation at investment and commercial banks is set to rise for the second straight year, while payouts at asset managers should rebound from a 2009 trough, the report said. While some corners of Wall Street are likely to see bonuses rise by up to 15 percent this year, others could see a 15 percent drop, the report said. Businesses that will likely see the biggest increases include prime brokerage; equities-based asset management; and high net worth units. Areas set for the steepest bonus drops are fixed-income units at both investment and commercial banks and equities.

New GM Chief Known As Pragmatic Leader (NYT)
FYI: “The world is divided into defenders and attackers, and G.M. has been a defender,” Mr. Anderson said. “Akerson has run attackers. He is going to essentially turn General Motors into a next-generation attacker.”

Maxine Waters to Face Reporters Friday to Address Ethics Charges (ABC)
Waters will be joined by her chief of staff Mikael Moore, who is also her grandson. Waters is expected to read a prepared statement in front of cameras, followed by a presentation conducted by Moore refuting the statement of alleged violations issued by the Ethics Committee earlier this month. After the presentation concludes, television cameras will be asked to leave for an on-the-record, but off-camera Q & A session with Waters and Moore.

Economists Want Policy Makers To Back Off (WSJ)
53 surveyed economists offered a bleak picture of tepid growth and high unemployment. On average, they still don't see the unemployment rate dropping below 9% through at least June 2011. They expect the economy to add just 136,000 jobs a month over the next 12 months, down from a forecast of 157,000 in the July survey. At that rate, job creation will barely keep up with new entrants to the labor force. Despite the continued challenging conditions, 30 out of 48 economists who answered the question said the economy didn't need any more fiscal or monetary stimulus. Six economists said more fiscal stimulus was necessary, while five want more monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve and seven said that the economy could use both. The survey was conducted before the central bank's announcement Tuesday that it would reinvest proceeds from its mortgage-backed securities and agency debt portfolio into Treasurys, essentially boosting monetary stimulus. "The economy needs government to get out of the way," said Stephen Stanley of Pierpont Securities.

Steven Slater Ready To Come Home To JetBlue (NYP)
"It's a wonderful airline, he loves working for them and wishes to continue to work for them," Slater's attorney, Howard Turman, said outside his client's apartment in Belle Harbor, Queens. "He did his job effectively, efficiently and appropriately."

DOJ asks HP for records in bribery probe (MarketWatch)
German prosecutors, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal in April, are looking into the possibility that H-P executives paid about €8 million ($10.9 million) in bribes to win a €35 million contract under which the U.S. company sold computer gear, through a German subsidiary, to the office of the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation. The German probe has been joined by U.S. and Russian authorities, according to people familiar with the matter.

Irish Banks Rattling Nerves Again (WSJ)
Ireland's problems have moved to center stage. On Thursday, the government sold €1 billion in six- and eight-month treasury bills, paying 2.458% on the six-month note, a big jump from the 1.367% yield it paid at the last auction three weeks ago. The yield on the 10-year bond rose to 5.367%, 2.94 percentage points higher than the relative German bund and up almost half a percentage point from one week ago. Philip Lane, a professor of international and macro-economics at Trinity College in Dublin, said Anglo Irish's call for more capital is troublesome and there are worries that the deeper the government digs into its loan book, the more problems it could find.

Hedge Fund Inflows Jumped In July
(WSJ)
Hedge-fund assets rose 1.37% in July to $2.249 trillion, after falling for two consecutive months. New money from investors boosted assets by $9.3 billion, the second highest monthly net inflow this year. Performance gains added another $21.09 billion to assets, HedgeFund.net said.

BP To Pay Record Fine Over Texas City (FT)
BP agreed to pay a record $50.6m fine for continued safety violations at its Texas City refinery five years after an explosion there killed 15 and injured 170. The fine came as federal officials on Thursday said that the UK oil group might not need to finish drilling the relief well touted as the permanent solution to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

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Opening Bell: 11.21.12

Germany Hints At More Financing (WSJ) Germany on Wednesday signaled its willingness to provide additional financing for the euro zone's bailout fund and accept lower interest on loans to Athens, in order to get the Greek rescue back on track and free the next tranche of about €44 billion ($56.40 billion) in loans for the euro zone's weakest member. Merkel Sees Chance For Greek Deal Monday (Reuters) "I believe there are chances, one doesn't know for sure, but there are chances to get a solution on Monday," Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament in a debate on the German budget. But the longing for one act, one miracle solution, one truth that means all our problems are gone tomorrow...this will not be fulfilled. What was neglected over years, over decades, cannot be taken care of overnight and therefore we will need to continue to move step by step." H-P Says It Was Duped (WSJ) The technology giant said that an internal investigation had revealed "serious accounting improprieties" and "outright misrepresentations" in connection with U.K. software maker Autonomy, which H-P acquired for $11.1 billion in October 2011. "There appears to have been a willful sustained effort" to inflate Autonomy's revenue and profitability, said Chief Executive Meg Whitman. "This was designed to be hidden." Michael Lynch, Autonomy's founder and former CEO, fired back hours later, denying improper accounting and accusing H-P of trying to hide its mismanagement. "We completely reject the allegations," said Mr. Lynch, who left H-P earlier this year. "As soon as there is some flesh put on the bones we will show they are not true." Analysts Had Questioned Autonomy’s Accounting Years Ago (CNBC) Paul Morland, technology research analyst at broking and advisory house Peel Hunt, told CNBC that he had noticed three red flags in Autonomy’s accounts in the years leading up to the HP acquisition: poor cash conversion, an inflated organic growth rate, and the categorizing of hardware sales as software. London Bankers Become Landlords as Rents Hit Record (Bloomberg) Vivek Jeswani became a landlord by accident when Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) transferred him to New York two weeks after he moved into a new home in central London. Now back in the U.K., Jeswani views the apartment in Baker Street, the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes, as one of his best assets and is about to buy another home to expand his rental business. “There are no other investments as attractive and you’ve got some security if you’ve got an asset you can use yourself,” the 36-year-old risk officer at China Construction Bank Corp.’s U.K. unit said. “There’s a good yield over 5 percent and being in central London, you’ve got demand domestically and internationally.” Trading Charges Reach SAC (WSJ) The hedge funds reaped $276 million in profits and losses avoided based on that information, criminal and civil authorities said—far dwarfing that of any previous insider-trading case. The bulk of the trading profits generated by Mr. Martoma was paid to Mr. Cohen, a person close to the hedge fund said. Fed Still Trying To Push Down Rates (WSJ) Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the central bank will keep trying to push down long-term interest rates in 2013, as federal tax and spending policies become a more substantial headwind to the U.S. economy. "We will continue to do our best to add monetary-policy support to the recovery," Mr. Bernanke said at the New York Economic Club, answering a question about how the Federal Reserve would respond to impending spending cuts or tax increases that might restrain economic growth. 'Stiletto Surgery' alters pinky toe for better fit (Fox) These days, some women will do just about anything to fit into their favorite pair of high heels – including surgery. A growing number of women are paying thousands of dollars to surgically alter their feet just to make wearing heels a more comfortable experience. Surgical procedures such as shortening toes, receiving foot injections and even completely cutting off pinky toes are on the rise. “Unless you’ve been there, and you can’t find shoes, and you’re in pain, don’t judge,” said Susan Deming, a patient who recently underwent a toe-shortening procedure. Adoboli’s Fate Decided at Wine Bar as UBS Market Bets Unraveled (Bloomberg) On a cool late summer evening last year in London’s financial district, with the euro-zone crisis worsening and Greece tottering on the edge of default, Kweku Adoboli says he asked the three traders who worked with him at UBS AG’s exchange-traded funds desk to join him for a drink. Adoboli said in a post on his Facebook page that he needed “a miracle” as his bets on the market imploded. That night at a wine bar across the street from their office, Adoboli asked John Hughes, the senior trader on the ETF desk, and two junior traders, what to do. The others decided he should take the blame for billions of dollars in losses and an elaborate web of secret trades in what he called an umbrella account that once held $40 million in hidden profits. “I knew I was going to lose my job anyway, I had already resigned myself to that, so fair enough,” the 32-year-old Adoboli testified last month about the meeting, which the other traders deny took place. Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease (Bloomberg) Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week as damage to the labor market caused by superstorm Sandy began to subside. Jobless claims decreased by 41,000 to 410,000 in the week ended Nov. 17, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The number of applications matched the median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Soros Buying Gold as Record Prices Seen on Stimulus (Bloomberg) The metal will rise every quarter next year and average $1,925 an ounce in the final three months, or 11 percent more than now, according to the median of 16 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Paulson & Co. has a $3.66 billion bet through the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest gold-backed exchange- traded product, and Soros Fund Management LLC increased its holdings by 49 percent in the third quarter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. 'Cannibal Cop' Gilberto Valle planned to to cook up 'some girl meat' on Thanksgiving (NYDN) The "Cannibal Cop" had his own twist for a Thanksgiving dinner this year — cooking up “some girl meat,” prosecutors revealed Tuesday. Gilberto Valle, 28 — who allegedly kept a database of at least 100 women he plotted to rape, cook and eat — planned the freakish feast with one of his online conspirators earlier this year, prosecutors said. “I’m planning on getting me some girl meat,” he wrote to his pal on Feb. 9. “Really tell me more,” responded the friend. “It’s this November, for Thanksgiving. It’s a long way off but I’m getting the plan in motion now,” Valle wrote.