Opening Bell: 09.14.10

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In Wall Street Sequel, Stone Gives Voice To Outrage (NYT)
“You know, half the people in this place could be prosecuted.” Oliver Stone, the film director, was sitting across from me over a late lunch in the Grill Room of the Four Seasons restaurant in Midtown Manhattan last week. In one corner was Stephen Schwarzman; Felix Rohatyn, a special adviser to the chairman of Lazard, was leaving as I was coming in, as was Barry Diller. And Sanford Weil— “the mother of all evil,” Mr. Stone said with a wry smile — had just dashed out. Mr. Stone added, “It’s silly to be simplifying and say Wall Street is evil,” pausing for a moment before stopping to correct himself. “Goldman Sachs is evil, maybe....Look, Wall Street’s gone crazy. It’s banking on steroids,” Mr. Stone said, getting a bit irritated. “Banks don’t mean what they did. When I was a kid, you had a savings account; you made 3 to 4 percent. Now you make zero, and Goldman Sachs is a bank holding company.”

Geithner Calendar: Met Blankfein More Often Than Pelosi, Reid, McConnell, Boehner (HP)
Lloyd Blankfein has shown up on Geithner's calendar at least 38 times through March since the Treasury Secretary took office in January 2009, three more entries than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and 13 more than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to a copy of Geithner's daily log recently published online by the Treasury Department.

AIG In Talks To End Aid From US (WSJ)
Under the plan, which could commence as early as the first half of 2011, the Treasury Department is likely to convert $49 billion in AIG preferred shares it holds into common shares, a move that could bring the government's ownership stake in AIG to above 90%, from 79.8% currently, the people familiar said. The common shares would then be gradually sold off to private investors, a move that would reduce U.S. ownership and potentially earn the government a profit if the shares rise in value.

BofA Chief Shares His Growth Vision (WSJ)
The plan, Mr. Moynihan's strongest attempt to present a new vision for the bank, revolves around more cross-selling to customers, companies and institutional investors who interact with the retail, corporate and wealth-management parts of the bank. Mr. Moynihan admits the concept isn't exactly exciting at first blush. "It's just hard work," he said in an interview

SEC Questions Trading Crusade as Market Makers Disappear (Bloomberg)
Mary Schapiro called on the agency last week to examine whether the loss of “old specialist obligations” has hurt investors after measures such as trading stocks in penny increments cut the number of those firms on the New York Stock Exchange to 5 from 25 in 2000. With market making now dominated by hundreds of automated traders with few rules for when they must buy and sell, the SEC will consider ways to keep the biggest from abandoning the market at the first sign of trouble.

Michael Lewis: Hedge-Fund Man Finds Inner Lion in Outer Space (Bloomberg)
To: The Loyal Investors of The Fund

From: The Manager

Like a lot of hedge-fund guys, I’ve recently endured what might be misconstrued as a nervous breakdown. Before CNBC or the New York Times or some other rag grabs the story and distorts it, I want to tell you about it myself -- and explain not only my disappointing returns but also my prolonged absence. Just so you get it straight.

My crisis struck one morning early this year, as I stared at my Bloomberg screens. Nothing had happened and that was the scary thing. For no reason in particular I was overcome by this eerie conviction that markets would never again be free. They’d become traps, run by politicians and bureaucrats, designed to ensnare the superior man. What had happened, in a word, was socialism. The law of the jungle, suspended since the fall of 2008, had been permanently revoked. Park rangers would forever more feed and protect all the animals, even the fat slow ones that deserved to die. In this new environment the apex predator --the lion with the gift for spotting the wounded antelope -- was doomed. My sixth sense for the kill was now irrelevant.

Bank Rules Win Muted Praise (WSJ)
Douglas Elliot, a former banker now at the Brookings Institution in Washington, described the standards as "lower than I'd like to see, but much higher than [today 's] effective requirement." Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate at Columbia University, called them "a move in the right direction." Many bankers were less enthusiastic. "Every dollar of capital is one less dollar working in the economy," the Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying group of large U.S. financial firms, said in a statement.

Ryanair Crews' Cost-Cutting Idea: Drop The CEO (FT)
Catfight: Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has for years endured complaints from passengers about his famously no-frills Irish airline. Now a senior Ryanair pilot has taken the rare step of publicly challenging his boss after the outspoken chief executive said he was trying to convince authorities to let his aircraft fly with only one pilot. A flight attendant could do the job of a co-pilot if needed, Mr O’Leary said last week, because “the computer does most of the flying now”. Captain Morgan Fischer, who trains other pilots at Ryanair’s Marseilles base, says he knows the airline is dedicated to keeping its costs as low as possible, so why not go one better – and replace Mr O’Leary with a junior flight attendant? “I would propose that Ryanair replace the CEO with a probationary cabin crew member currently earning approximately 13,200 euros ($16,950) net per annum,” Capt Fischer has written in a letter to the Financial Times, which reported Mr O’Leary’s comments last week.

The Jim O'Neill's Farewell Letter (ZH)
Anyhow, as my beloved football just showed a couple of hours ago, anything can happen in life ( 3-1 up at the end of normal time, and it ended 3-3……a few hairdryers in the dressing room I suspect after that…!). Best of luck.

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Marc-Lasry

Opening Bell: 12.12.17

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