Opening Bell: 09.01.10

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Fuld Says U.S. Used `Flawed Information' in Denying Lehman Aid (Bloomberg)
“Other firms were hurt by their plummeting stock prices,” Fuld, 64, said in prepared remarks submitted to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission for a hearing in Washington today. “Lehman was the only firm that was mandated by government regulators to file for bankruptcy. The government was then forced to intervene to protect those other firms and the entire financial system.”

CEO's Who Fired More, Earned More In '09 (CNBC)
The CEOs of the 50 U.S. companies that laid off the most workers between November 2008 and April 2010 were paid $12 million on average in 2009, or 42 percent more than the average across the Standard & Poor's 500, according to a study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington think tank.

Man Walks Out of a Bar, Loses $1.4 Million Portrait by Corot, Lawsuit Says
(Bloomberg)
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s 1857-58 “Portrait of a Girl” is missing, according to a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court. And the last man with possession can’t recall where it is after a night of heavy drinking, the suit says. After inspecting the painting, Waterman, the dealer, asked to examine it further with ultraviolet black light, often used for authentication, the suit said. That evening Doyle carried the painting to the midtown bistro Rue 57, where he met Haggerty. Doyle told Haggerty to deliver the artwork to Waterman at the Upper East Side Mark Hotel. From here, the suit says, we rely on security cameras and an investigation by the owners: At 11 p.m., Haggerty leaves the painting at the front desk and enters a hotel bar, followed by Waterman. At 11:30, the two exit the bar and retrieve the painting and put it on a bench. They talk. Waterman leaves. At 11:34, Haggerty returns the painting to the front desk and re- enters the bar. At 12:50 a.m., Haggerty exits the bar and collects the painting from the front desk. He “tumbles out the front door, colliding with the doorman as he is exiting the hotel,” the suit says. At 2:30 a.m., a security camera at Haggerty’s apartment building shows him arriving -- without the Corot. “The next morning, Haggerty informed Doyle that he did not have the painting, and could not recall its whereabouts citing that he had too much to drink the previous evening,” the suit says.

FDIC Finds 829 Banks At Risk (WSJ)
The FDIC said 829 of the nation's roughly 7,800 banks were on its "problem list" at the end of June, up from 775 at the end of the first three months of the year. Already 118 banks have failed this year, well ahead of the pace set last year when 140 were seized by regulators.

China's First Officially Registered Hedge Fund (Bloomberg)
E Fund Management Co., China’s second-largest asset management company, plans to start the nation’s first officially registered hedge fund after the securities regulator eased rules in July. E Fund will be able to raise money from high-net-worth individuals in separate managed accounts and use the same investment strategies as hedge funds in what the money manager with about 200 billion yuan ($29 billion) in assets says will be the first institutional hedge-fund product in China.

SEC drops probe into Moody’s (FT)
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday warned credit rating agencies that it now had the authority to bring fraud cases over conduct outside the US that has “foresee­able effects” in the country. The US regulator signalled its determination to enforce new rules requiring agencies to have proper internal controls over how investment products are rated. The shot across the bows of the industry came as the SEC dropped a potential fraud action against Moody’s Investors Service, citing “uncertainty” over whether it had jurisdiction to pursue the action in the US.

Funds of Funds Face Bleak Future (Reuters)
Firms with $1-2 billion or less look particularly vulnerable as they try to meet higher due diligence costs since Madoff, with institutional investors expecting much more. "I think there will be a risk of closures amongst smaller groups -- they are always the most vulnerable," said another industry executive who asked not to be named.

In Japan, Real Men Go To A Hotel With Their Virtual Girlfriends (WSJ)
Since the marriage rate among Japan's shrinking population is falling and with many of the country's remaining lovebirds heading for Hawaii or Australia's Gold Coast, Atami had to do something. It is trying to attract single men—and their handheld devices. In the first month of the city's promotional campaign launched July 10, more than 1,500 male fans of the Japanese dating-simulation game LovePlus+ have flocked to Atami for a romantic date with their videogame character girlfriends. The men are real. The girls are cartoon characters on a screen. The trips are actual, can be expensive and aim to re-create the virtual weekend outing featured in the game, a product of Konami Corp. played on Nintendo Co.'s DS videogame system.

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Opening Bell: 05.08.12

When Facebook Met Wall Street (WSJ) On Monday, investors piled into the hotel to hear what Mr. Zuckerberg and his lieutenants had to say about the offering. At one point, the line, leading to a second-floor ballroom where the meeting was scheduled to be held at 11:45 a.m., stretched down to the first floor and spilled out of the hotel for nearly half a city block. At least one investor waiting in line said he didn't expect anything to be revealed that wasn't already in Facebook's securities filings. Rather, he was there to take in the show, and lunch (which was Cobb salad and grilled chicken). A 30-minute video about Facebook, which had been widely distributed before Monday, led the lunch, according to attendees. The next part of the presentation was briefly delayed by Mr. Zuckerberg's absence. The CEO was in the bathroom, explained Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman to attendees. (Mr. Ebersman wore a navy suit.) Yahoo CEO Apologizes in Memo, Board Meets (Reuters, earlier) Yahoo Inc's board convened on Monday afternoon to discuss the mounting upset surrounding Chief Executive Scott Thompson, who has apologized to employees after being accused last week by activist investor Daniel Loeb of padding his resume, a source with knowledge of the matter said..."I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you," Thompson wrote in his first extended memo to employees since the disclosures emerged on May 3. "We have all been working very hard to move the company forward and this has had the opposite effect. For that, I take full responsibility, and I want to apologize to you." Billion-Dollar Traders Quit Wall Street For Hedge Funds (Bloomberg) Wall Street’s biggest banks have lost almost two dozen of their most-profitable credit traders in the past 13 months as regulators limit the kind of risk-taking that amplified the housing crisis four years ago. As banks slash or defer pay and reduce the amount they’re willing to wager, the traders are seeing better opportunities at hedge funds and investment firms that seek to profit in markets lenders are retreating from. Wall Street Banks Depressed In Secular Shift (Bloomberg) To Kevin Conn, who has been analyzing bank stocks for 15 years, the investment climate for Wall Street’s biggest firms has entered the realm of science fiction. “It’s like that Ray Bradbury short story where it rains for months in a row,” said Conn, who works for Massachusetts Financial Services Co., referring to “The Long Rain,” published in 1950. “It’s one of these terrifically depressing short stories where the weather just never changes.” Spain To Spend Billions On Bank Rescue (FT) Spain is planning a state bail-out of Bankia, the country’s third biggest bank by assets, in a move likely to involve the injection of billions of euros of public money into the troubled lender. In an abrupt reversal of policy, the Spanish government, which had previously insisted that no additional state money would be needed to clean up the country’s banking sector, confirmed that an intervention was being prepared. OWS Mom Snubs Plea (NYP) Occupy Wall Street protester Stacey Hessler, 39, arrested in November for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, yesterday refused an offer to have her charges dismissed and will instead face a trial...Hessler had originally planned to accept the judge’s offer of an adjournment contemplating dismissal, which erases the charge if the defendant stays out of trouble for six months, but later changed her mind, her attorney said. SEC Orders Probe Of Watchdog Office (WSJ) The Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct by current and former staff working for its office of the inspector general, according to a person familiar with the matter. The complaint includes allegations that the misconduct compromised certain investigations of the SEC, according to the person familiar with the situation. Apollo's Profit More Than Doubles (WSJ) For the first quarter, Apollo reported a profit of $98 million, or 66 cents a share, up from a year-earlier profit of $38.2 million, or 33 cents a share. Economic net income rose to $1.10 from 99 cents a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected 78 cents a share...Total revenue rose 12% to $776.7 million, far better than the $547 million expected by analysts. Bank of America Offers Principal Reductions to 200,000 Homeowners (CNBC) “If people get these things and toss them, they won’t be eligible,” says Ron Sturzenegger, the Bank of America executive charged with providing solutions to borrowers in need of mortgage assistance. But the offer is real, and eligible borrowers could get as much as $150,000 knocked off the balance of their mortgages. It is all part of the $25 billion settlement reached this year between federal and state agencies and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers over fraudulent foreclosure document processing (so-called “robo-signing”). No Repeating Slowdown Seen by U.S. With Banks to Housing (Bloomberg) Rising auto sales, improving bank credit and stabilization of housing are among the signs the economy is more resilient now than it was around the same time in 2010 and 2011, according to Marisa Di Natale, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “From where we sit right now, we think the economy looks fundamentally stronger,” Di Natale said. “Surveys of business and consumer confidence are better, the labor market data looks a lot better than it did last year, even some of the housing data looks better.” Ex-Tyco CFO: Gimme the $ I didn’t steal! (Reuters) Former Tyco International Chief Financial Officer Mark Swartz, who is serving a prison sentence for looting the company, has sued for $60 million in retirement and other money he says he is owed. The lawsuit, which was made public yesterday, accuses Tyco of breach of contract and unjust enrichment for not paying him some $48 million from an executive retirement agreement, $9 million in reimbursement for New York taxes, and other money. Winner Of Mexican Presidential Debate? Julia Orayen (AP) Who won Mexico's presidential debate? According to the media and Twitter frenzy, at least, the victor wasn't any candidate but a curvaceous model in a tight gown who puzzled millions by appearing on stage for less than 30 seconds during the showdown. Julia Orayen has posed nude for Playboy and appeared barely dressed in other media, but she made her mark on Mexican minds Sunday night by carrying an urn filled with bits of paper determining the order that candidates would speak. She wore a tight, white dress with a wide, tear-drop cutout that revealed her ample decolletage. The image was splashed across newspaper front pages and websites by Monday. "The best was the girl in white with the cleavage at the beginning," tweeted former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda, who is also a New York University professor...Alfredo Figueroa, director of the Federal Electoral Institute responsible for organizing the debate, blamed the incident on a production associate hired by the institute to help with the debate. The institute later issued an apology to Mexican citizens and the candidates for the woman's dress.

By Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 6.13.16

Asian equities desks face the ax; Jennifer Lawrence to play Elizabeth Holmes; Anonymous donor pays $3,456,789 for lunch with Warren Buffett; and more.