Opening Bell: 11.24.10

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Ireland Rating Cut Two Steps by S&P as `Barbarians' Gather (Bloomberg)
While opposition political parties back the aim of reducing the deficit to the EU’s 3 percent limit by 2014, labor unions are planning “mass mobilization” in protest at the planned cuts, with a march in Dublin on Nov. 27. “It appears that the day of reckoning has arrived,” said David Begg, head of the Dublin-based Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the umbrella group for unions, which is organizing the demonstration. “The Barbarians are at the gates.”

U.S. Trading Probe Puts Research, Expert Networks in Spotlight (Bloomberg)
“My contacts are the foot soldiers and the worker bees of the industry,” John Kinnucan, who was interviewed by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation last month, said yesterday...Richard Bove, an analyst at Rochdale Securities LLC in Lutz, Florida, said he’s concerned that the investigation by the U.S. Attorney in New York and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may result in criminalizing legitimate research that gives one investor an advantage over another.

Mohamed El-Erian: Urgent EU action needed to stop contagion (FT)
Europe’s yet-to-be used financing facility must be made operational quickly, with little room for slippage. The International Monetary Fund must also demonstrate agility in its support. And individual European countries must resist the bickering that is almost unavoidable when such delicate burden sharing judgments are in play.

Wallets Out, Wall Street Dares To Indulge (Dealbook)
Real estate agents say Wall Street executives have already begun lining up rentals in the Hamptons for next summer. Dolly Lenz of Prudential Douglas Elliman said the bidding this year was “hotter and heavier” than previous years. “There is a passion now in the market I haven’t seen in a while,” she said.

Bernanke Reviews Fed Communications Amid Backlash on Purchases (Bloomberg)
“More communication is better from the chairman,” said Matus, senior economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “Whenever the chairman steps back, the void is filled” by other officials who may confuse investors, Matus said. “If they do this right, there will be less of this confusion generated.”

Bruce Willis to front Russian bank ad campaign (Reuters)
Trust bank, a top-30 lender by assets, hung pictures of the "Die Hard" star on the streets of Moscow on Monday with the phrase "Trust is just like me, but a bank."

Madoff trustee sues UBS, others for Ponzi scheme role (Reuters)
The lawsuit, filed early on Wednesday in a Manhattan bankruptcy court, claims that UBS and another defendant Access International Advisors LLC extended the Ponzi scheme to European investors and were liable for at least $2 billion for their roles in masking the fraud.

Biggest US Banks Are Healthier, Says FDIC (WSJ)
The number of banks on the FDIC's list of problem institutions climbed to 860 at the end of September, the highest level since March 31, 1993, while the average size of those banks dropped to $440 million from $486 million in the second quarter.

JP Morgan Eyeing Lehman's Former UK Premises (FT)
JPMorgan Chase is close to axing plans to build a £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion) European headquarters in Canary Wharf, opting instead for the former UK premises of Lehman Brothers.

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Opening Bell: 06.26.12

China's Officials Forced To Sell Luxury Cars (FT) Cash-strapped local governments in China have begun auctioning off fleets of officials’ luxury cars as part of efforts to bolster revenues hit by the country’s slowdown. Wenzhou, a south-eastern coastal city hit hard by the cooling economy, sold 215 cars at the weekend, fetching Rmb10.6 million ($1.7 million). It plans to sell 1,300 vehicles – 80 percent of the municipal fleet – by the end of the year. Moody’s Downgrades 28 Spanish Banks On Sovereign Risk (Bloomberg) While Santander and BBVA remained investment grade, at least a dozen lenders were lowered to junk status, Moody’s said yesterday in a statement. The ratings company downgraded six banks by four levels and 10 by three grades, with the rest getting one- and two-tier declines. Report Suggests ECB Bank Supervision (WSJ) Euro-zone countries should transfer oversight of their banks to a European supervisor, possibly the European Central Bank, in return for allowing the bloc's bailout fund to help insure deposits and wind down failing lenders, the European Union's top officials proposed in a report that will be debated at their summit Thursday. Facebook Analysts To Click 'Like'...Or Not (WSJ) On Tuesday, a 40-day quiet period will conclude for analysts at banks that were underwriters of Facebook's initial public offering, including lead underwriters Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs. The analysts are expected to publish their initial research early on Wednesday, people at the firms said. Kanye, Kim Kardashian Sued For Al Qaeda Ties (PM) Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have been sued for their alleged ties to Al-Qaeda. "Alleged" is the operative adjective here, especially when discussing the plaintiff, one Jonathan Lee Riches. He's the Guiness World Record holder as "The World's Most Litigious Man," filing over 5,000 suits in the past eight years. The reason behind this latest suit? All American citizens are in eminent danger of the defendants. Take it way, Mr. Riches: “On 6/17/2012 I was in West Virginia, deep in the hills and I stumbled upon the defendants who were all at a Al-Qaeda secret training camp." He then went on to claim that Kanye and Kim pleaded their allegiance to Al-Qaeda, burned the U.S. flag and stomped their feet on Barack Obama’s picture, performed a concert for all Al-Qaeda members, and shot AK-47s in the air. Banks Preparing For The End (WSJ) Nine of the largest financial institutions must submit their initial living wills to the FDIC and Federal Reserve by July 1. The early group includes top U.S. financial institutions as well as Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Credit Suisse, and UBS. Smaller companies have longer to craft their plans, with all due by the end of 2013. Margaritaville memo: Execs may walk plank (NYP) The boat that sank one of Warren Buffett’s top execs has been identified, and some of his crew may still get thrown overboard. Denis Abrams — who was canned as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway’s Benjamin Moore unit this month — chartered an extravagant cruise off Bermuda in a yacht called The Lady Charlotte, The Post has learned. “Abrams had a lot of his ‘yes men’ on that cruise who were responsible for a lot of what has gone wrong,” one former exec groused. “They can’t turn it around without clearing those ranks.” KKR Raises $4 Billion For Deals In Infrastructure, Energy (Bloomberg) KKR completed raising about $1 billion for infrastructure investments and $1.25 billion for natural resources, the New York-based firm said today in a statement. That’s combined with $1.3 billion in separate accounts for infrastructure, and $350 million for natural resources contributed by affiliates of KKR. Nasty Elmo Is Gone, And Other Ones Are Just Tickled (CityRoom) On Monday, the day after the police ejected a man wearing the furry, red costume from Central Park for exploding into an obscenity-laced rant, other Elmos around New York said they recognized the man from previous clashes and expressed hope that his brush with the law would help their trade’s reputation. In between posing for photos and harassing tourists for tips, the offending Elmo would often treat tourists and fellow Sesame Street impersonators alike to xenophobic and anti-Semitic tirades. The man in the costume, whose name was not released because he was not arrested, was taken to Metropolitan Hospital Center for a psychological evaluation, the police said on Monday. The man would shout “crazy stuff” about the other impersonators, said Luis, 25, a Peruvian immigrant who has been donning an Elmo suit for about six months. He often worked the pedestrian plaza on Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets, where Luis and a few other men in furry suits ambled from street corner to street corner Monday afternoon, keeping a wary distance from one another.