Opening Bell: 02.18.11

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G20 May Agree On Imbalance Measures (WSJ)
The official, who is party to the discussions in Paris, said there is "almost consensus" on which indicators to use but that China still opposes some. He said China's negotiators are resisting including current-account imbalances and the real effective exchange rate among the indicators. He also said China and several other countries that have built up large reserves are against using currency reserves to indicate imbalances.

Krawcheck Slaps Cut-Pay Garden Leave on BofA Advisers (Bloomberg)
“They’re sending the message, ‘Make no mistake, you will incur our wrath, this is not a place you want to leave,’” said Mindy Diamond, president of Diamond Consultants LLC, a Chester, New Jersey-based executive-search firm. “It’s very rare that a company would have garden-leave provisions for producers, and I think this could backfire if people view it as draconian.”

Fed Chief Says U.S. Bolstered Its Ability to Handle Failure of a Big Bank (NYT)
Ben Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that it would be some time before all of the rules of the new law were in place but that regulators had begun to tighten risk standards and “certainly we’ve all learned lessons from the crisis.” When Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the committee, asked what those lessons were, Mr. Bernanke replied, “The importance of being very aggressive and not being willing to allow banks, you know, too much leeway, particularly when they’re inadequate in areas like risk management.”

Tim Geithner Joins NYSE Name Push (NYP)
Geithner said he "very much" agrees with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has been trying to wield his political clout to ensure that "New York" comes first in the name of the new entity that emerges from the pending $10 billion tie-up. "I've talked to at least 10 experts and all of them say that the NYSE is a much stronger brand than Deutsche Boerse," Schumer told The Post.

Wall Street Pay Still Doesn’t Consider Risk, Study Finds (NYT)
Many financial firms continue doling out bonuses without considering how it affects behavior, according to a study released Thursday by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. The study found that only 37 percent of financial institutions surveyed by Deloitte had substantially incorporated risk-management concerns into their compensation decisions.

Banks Like Barclays Find Loophole On Dodd-Frank Capital Rule (WSJ)
In November, Barclays PLC quietly changed the legal classification of the U.K. bank's main subsidiary in the U.S. so that the unit would no longer be subject to federal bank-capital requirements. Several other banks based outside the U.S. are considering similar moves, according to people familiar with the matter.

SEC Questions Mutual Funds' Muni Prices (WSJ)
The agency's concern is that investors in high-yield muni-bond mutual funds could be misled about the true value of their investment, according to people familiar with the matter.

Warren Buffet's White House Words Of Wisdom (CNBC)
Buffett says he feels lucky to have been born in the United States, lucky to have found what he loves doing very early in life, and "extremely lucky in that the two most important people to me in my life, my dad and my wife ... they both extended to me unconditional love. And there's no power on earth in my view like unconditional love."

A-Rod leaving 15 CPW, buying penthouse at The Rushmore (NYP)
No more knocking on neighbor Lloyd Blankfein's door for a cup of sugar.

Egyptians Say Military Discourages an Open Economy (NYT)
Though some Western analysts have guessed that the military’s empire makes up as much as a third of Egypt’s economy, Mr. Rachid said it was in fact less than 10 percent. But economists say that because of its vested interests they still worry that the military will impede the continuation of the transition from the state-dominated economy established under President Gamal Abdel Nasser to a more open and efficient free market that advanced under Mr. Mubarak. Moreover, the military’s power to guide policy is, at the moment, unchecked. The military has invited no civilian input into the transitional government, and it has enjoyed such a surge in prestige since it helped usher out Mr. Mubarak that almost no one in the opposition is criticizing it.

Buffett Says Pricing Power Beats Good Management (Bloomberg)
“The single most important decision in evaluating a business is pricing power,” Buffett told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in an interview released by the panel last week. “If you’ve got the power to raise prices without losing business to a competitor, you’ve got a very good business. And if you have to have a prayer session before raising the price by 10 percent, then you’ve got a terrible business.”

Financial Regulator Appoints Top Team (WSJ)
Elizabeth Warren named two former Wall Street bankers and a former Freddie Mac official to senior posts at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, creating a face for the new regulator that is more friendly to the financial industry than some critics had feared. Ms. Warren appointed Rajeev V. Date, her adviser at the Treasury Department and a former Deutsche Bank managing director, to head the regulator's research, markets and regulations team.

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