Opening Bell: 02.22.11

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BofA Doubles Writedown for Credit-Card Unit to $20.3 Billion (Bloomberg)
“This is another sign that the quality of the bank’s consumer-credit book is weaker than what they previously indicated,” said Tony Plath, a finance professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “It’s a huge number, and the way they’re disclosing it erodes the bank’s credibility. Why are we waiting until 2011 to do an impairment charge for two years ago?”

Saudi Oil Minister: "We Will Protect Supply" (CNBC)
"The market knows that Saudi has a good chunky excess capacity and a record of using it when needed," Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud said in an interview. "There is no qualms, what needs to prevail is no shortage of supply," said the prince, who is hosting a meeting of ministers from the world's major oil producers.

IEA Chief: $100 Oil 'Very, Very Bad' for Economy (Reuters)
"That is our concern, regardless of the margins of disruption, if the $100 per barrel of oil is continued in 2011, the burden of oil to the global economy is as bad as 2008," Nobuo Tanaka, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency said.

Italy Exchange Halted for `Technical Issues' After Plunge (Bloomberg)
Trading on the Italian exchange remained halted because of “technical issues” after the benchmark FTSE MIB Index fell the most in eight months yesterday on concern Libya’s unrest may affect Italian companies. Borsa Italiana SpA, owned by London Stock Exchange Group Plc, said in a statement on its website that “restoring operations” are underway after stocks failed to open and the futures market was halted at 12:10 p.m. All markets are suspended, the Milan bourse said in a separate statement.

US Arrests Credit Suisse Banker In Tax Probe (FT)
Christos Bagios was arrested about two weeks ago on entering the US and is in transit to a detention centre in southern Florida, according to the Bureau of Prisons’ website and people familiar with the matter. In December, Renzo Gadola, the first UBS banker to be charged since the settlement, admitted to conspiring to help wealthy US clients evade paying taxes. Mr Gadola worked at UBS from 1995 to 2008.

FDIC May Sue Former WaMu Execs (WSJ)
The FDIC has discussed damages of $1 billion in relation to the potential Washington Mutual lawsuit, says a person familiar with the matter. The person said a decision against former executives of WaMu, the largest institution to be seized by regulators during the financial crisis, could be made within the next 30 days. It is unclear which former WaMu executives would be charged.

Moody's Cuts Japan's Outlook (WSJ)
Moody's sent a warning to Japan's political leadership Tuesday, announcing that it was cutting the outlook on the nation's Aa2 bond rating to negative from stable, citing the political gridlock that is dimming chances for action soon to rein in the nation's ballooning debt load.

Thin Mint melee lands Naples woman in jail (ABC)
A Naples woman was arrested Sunday after deputies say she attacked her roommate over a box of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Hersha Howard was charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. Howard's roommate, Jasmin Wanke, told deputies she was asleep when Howard burst into her bedroom and accused her of eating the cookies...The women began to argue, then Howard reportedly jumped on top of Wanke and struck her in the face. The two continued to fight until Wanke's husband separated them. When Wanke walked out of the bedroom, Howard grabbed a pair of scissors and began chasing and threatening Wanke, the report said. As women ran down the stairs, Howard reportedly dropped the scissors, picked up a board and struck Wanke.

BHP To Buy Chesapeake Shale Assets (WSJ)
BHP Billiton Ltd. said Monday it is acquiring Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s Fayetteville shale gas holdings in Arkansas and some pipeline assets in a deal totaling about $4.75 billion in cash.

New Zealand's Currency Tumbles After Christchurch Earthquake (Bloomberg)
The so-called kiwi slid versus all 16 of its major counterparts as buildings around the city were damaged by the temblor, which followed a quake in September that was the worst in 80 years.

With 'Testosterone Zones,' Muscled Commando, Dr. Pepper Looks to Avoid Earlier Marketing Missteps by Pepsi Max, Coke Zero (AA)
Dr Pepper Ten was created for 25- to 34-year-old men who prefer regular Dr Pepper but want fewer calories. And its inclusion of 10 calories, rather than zero like its competitors, allowed it to deliver a flavor closer to the regular version, Mr. Fleming says...A mobile "Man Cave" will also travel to each of six test markets, including Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Mo.; and San Antonio and Austin, Texas. The branded trailer will set up in "testosterone zones" such as ball fields or car shows and give men a place to watch TV and play video games

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Opening Bell: 02.11.13

Two Firms, One Trail, In Probe Of Ratings (WSJ) The Justice Department last week went after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services—not rival Moody's Investors Service —with a $5 billion fraud lawsuit. Some former Moody's employees think they know why. The Moody's Corp. unit took careful steps to avoid creating a trove of potentially embarrassing employee messages like those that came back to haunt S&P in the U.S.'s lawsuit, the former employees say. Moody's analysts in recent years had limited access to instant-message programs and were directed by executives to discuss sensitive matters face to face, according to former employees. The crackdown on communications came after a 2005 investigation by then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer into Moody's ratings on some mortgage-backed deals, the former employees say. Former employees also point to an April 2001 settlement between Moody's and the Justice Department's antitrust division over the destruction of documents amid a civil inquiry by the agency. Moody's pleaded to one count of obstruction of justice and paid a fine of $195,000. Moody's called that situation "an isolated incident" and said it cooperated with the Justice Department's investigation. That settlement helped lay the groundwork for heightened concerns about sensitive documents, former Moody's employees say. Credit Rating Victims Didn’t Know S&P’s Toxic AAA Born of Greed (Bloomberg) When Charles O. Prince III was chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc. from 2003 to 2007, he didn’t know about a surge in mortgage risk that his own investment bankers loaded on to its bank’s books. Because such debt carried top credit ratings from firms such as Standard & Poor’s, few financial executives paid attention to the potential dangers. When Charles O. Prince III was chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc. from 2003 to 2007, he didn’t know about a surge in mortgage risk that his own investment bankers loaded on to its bank’s books. Because such debt carried top credit ratings from firms such as Standard & Poor’s, few financial executives paid attention to the potential dangers. Makeover At Barclays Won't Be Extreme (WSJ) Mr. Jenkins's cuts are likely to be focused on areas where Barclays lags far behind competitors, executives say. That could include parts of the equities sales-and-trading businesses in Asia and continental Europe, according to analysts and people at other banks. Those are businesses in which Mr. Diamond spearheaded an ambitious expansion but where Barclays remains a second-tier player. But other changes are driven more by polishing the bank's tarnished image than they are by the need to boost profits. A few business lines that don't seem "socially useful" are likely to end up on the chopping block, executives say. For example, Barclays plans to retreat at least in part from the lucrative trading of "soft commodities" such as coffee, executives say. That is a concession to mounting criticism that speculative trading in those commodities contributes to food-price inflation. "We're a big player, but does it pass the smell test of what society would think of this?" a senior executive said. Mr. Jenkins is also expected to trumpet plans to dramaticallyscale back Barclays's tax-planning business, in which it advises clients on how to minimize their tax burdens. The bank will no longer help clients put together transactions that have no businesspurpose other than reducing taxes. "Such activity is incompatible with our purpose," Mr. Jenkins will say on Tuesday, according to the extract of his speech. But the bank isn't expected to exit the business altogether. It will continue to offer tax-minimizing advice. People familiar with the matter say the business has been hiring employees recently. Putin Turns Black Gold Into Bullion as Russia Out-Buys World (Bloomberg) Not only has Putin made Russia the world’s largest oil producer, he’s also made it the biggest gold buyer. His central bank has added 570 metric tons of the metal in the past decade, a quarter more than runner-up China, according to IMF data compiled by Bloomberg. The added gold is also almost triple the weight of the Statue of Liberty. White House Warns Coming Austerity Will Hit Economy Hard (Reuters) Automatic government spending cuts due to go into effect March 1 unless Congress acts to prevent them would bite deeply into programs affecting many Americans, such as law enforcement, small business assistance, food safety and tax collection, the White House said on Friday. The administration urged Congress to blunt the effect of the reductions, which the White House said would slash non-defense programs by 9 percent across the board and defense programs by 13 percent, the White House said. "These large and arbitrary cuts will have severe impacts across the government," the administration said in a statement. World's most prolific stripper calls it a day (DM) For two decades, the Liverpudlian father-of-three has been the Usain Bolt of the naked dash. In 1995, he leapt naked on to Fred Talbot’s weather map on daytime TV show This Morning, and a year later he appeared nude on the green during the Open at Royal Lytham. Then, in 2004, he was fined £550 for trespassing after streaking across the pitch at the Super Bowl in Texas – a match watched by 130 million people in 87 countries. For good measure, Mark has also stripped off at Wembley, Wimbledon and Ascot. ‘There’s no major venue or event I haven’t done,’ he says proudly. ‘But I’m nearly 49 now and my children have begged me to stop. It’s time. I’m not ready for my slippers just yet, but gravity’s against me.’ Treasury Pick Lew Faces Grilling on Citi Bonus, Cayman Account (Reuters) Jack Lew, President Barack Obama's pick to be U.S. treasury secretary, is expected to come under fire for the administration's budget policies and a nearly $1 million bonus he received from bailed-out bank Citigroup when he testifies on Wednesday before a Senate panel vetting him for the job. The hearing will briefly become ground zero in the pitched political battle over the federal budget, with Republicans set to attack over what they contend is Lew's devil-may-care attitude to reducing the U.S. budget deficit. "He'll be used as a political ping-pong ball," said Ted Truman, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for InternationalEconomics who served briefly as an adviser to Obama's former treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner. Treasury Eases Off On Bank Rules (WSJ) The proposal, which will be subject to comment before becoming a final rule, is likely to insist that financial institutions gather beneficial ownership information—who is in charge and who profits—on new corporate accounts, officials said. But in a move that could assuage some industry concerns, financial institutions wouldn't have to vet that ownership data for accuracy. Instead, they would rely on the customer to vouch for the information. With a Focus on Its Future, Financial Times Turns 125 (NYT) On Wednesday, The F.T. is celebrating its 125th birthday. The newspaper’s London headquarters along the south bank of the Thames will be lit up in pink, the color of the paper on which it has been printed since shortly after it was founded. There will be a few parties — understated, of course, for these are straitened times in the City of London, and challenging ones for the newspaper industry. Waxing Our Way To The ER (Salon) A new study from the University of California-San Diego reveals that “Emergency room visits due to pubic hair grooming mishaps,” including “lacerations,” increased fivefold between 2002 and 2010, sending an impressive 11,704 pube-scapers to the E.R. The culprits? Scissors and hot wax did some of the damage, but plain-old non-electric-razors accounted for the lion’s share, at 83 percent...The study also revealed that below-the-belt grooming isn’t just for adult ladies anymore – men accounted for 43.3 percent of the injuries, and almost 30 percent of them were girls under the age of 18. To avoid becoming yet another harrowing grooming gone bad statistic, the researchers advise hair removal aficionados to “Pay attention to where you’re placing that razor. Invest in a non-slip bath mat. And don’t shave while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Opening Bell: 9.21.15

Tsipras is back; Moynihan thinks he's gonna be okay; Goldman giving ETFs a try; "Tourist Dies At The Taj Mahal After Falling While Taking A Selfie"; and more.