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Opening Bell: 10.18.10

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Citigroup Profit Beats Estimates on Decline in Loss Provisions (Bloomberg)
Citi said profit rose to $2.17 billion, beating analysts’ estimates on a decline in provisions for bad loans. Third-quarter net income was 7 cents a share and compared with profit of $101 million in the same period a year earlier, the New York-based bank said today in a statement. Ten analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated per-share earnings of 5 cents a share at the bank, the third-biggest in the U.S. by assets. The results bring Vikram Pandit, 53, one quarter closer to achieving his first annual profit after losses in 2008 and 2009 that totaled $29.3 billion.

Chicago Fed President Warns Of Liquidity Trap (FT)
Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Fed, said that “in my opinion, much more policy accommodation is appropriate today” because “the US economy is best described as being in a bona fide liquidity trap”, a point where ultra-low interest rates and high savings rates conspire to make monetary policy ineffective.

Goldman Pushes Its Image Rehab (WSJ)
The most concrete move so far has been the hiring of a new vice president in its investor-relations department who has publicly advocated some changes Goldman has resisted in the past. Bess Joffe, who had worked for London-based shareholder-advocacy firm Hermes Equity Ownership Services, has pushed companies to change their boards and to improve disclosure, said Colin Melvin, the firm's chief executive. She started at Goldman this month. Attempts to reach Ms. Joffe were referred to a spokesman, who declined to comment on her behalf.

Banks Face Mortgage Scrutiny as $49 Billion in Value Vanishes (Bloomberg)
Citi, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan saw $49.3 billion in market value shaved off in the three days ended Oct. 15 amid concern that rising costs of faulty foreclosures will eat into profits. JPMorgan set aside $2.3 billion of reserves to cover mortgage repurchases or litigation expenses, including some for “mortgage-related matters,” the lender said Oct. 13.

Banks Shared Clients’ Profits, but Not Losses (NYT)
“If I were a shareholder, I would say, ‘I love Jamie Dimon to death because he’s going to go out there and make money every way he can, no matter what happens to his customers,’ ” Jerry D. Davis, Chairman of the municipal employee pension fund in New Orleans, said. “He’s making money off of me.”

Trump Stymied in Bid to Build at NY's Jones Beach (AP)
"The word I'd use is incomprehensible," Trump told The Associated Press in a recent telephone interview. "I was going to build a magnificent building on the boardwalk that would have made Robert Moses envious and proud. It would have been the best building in the entire state parks system."

On Runways And In Magazines, A New Masculine Ideal (NYT)
“Men have always been defined by their jobs — always,” said Joe Levy, the editor in chief of Maxim. When the economy was flush, consumers were content to indulge designer subversions of age and gender expectations, he added. That was before the recession lodged in the landscape like an errant iceberg taking its own time to thaw. “Suddenly the notion of having a job or a career is in doubt,” Mr. Levy said. “So you fall back on old notions of what it meant to be a man or to look like one.”

Pension Funds Flee Stocks (WSJ)
By this July, pension plans as a group had cut their stock exposure to 45%, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Many say the trend will continue.

Wells Fargo Prepares For Tsunami Of Loan Repurchase Demands (ZH)
"Here is the simplified flowchart that will end up costing the bank pretty much all of its balance sheet cash. The only question is how soon."