Opening Bell: 03.15.11

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Kan Seeks Calm as Japan Tries to Contain Meltdown, Panic Buying (Bloomberg)
Japanese stocks fell after reports of today’s explosion and fire, sending the Topix 9.5 percent lower at the close in Tokyo, the largest one-day slide since October 2008. The gauge has dropped 18 percent since the quake. The central bank injected 8 trillion yen ($98 billion) into the financial system today, on top of a record 15 trillion yen yesterday. “We are in uncharted waters now,” said Kirby Daley, a Hong Kong-based senior strategist with Newedge Group’s prime brokerage business.

Hedge Funds Had Bets Against Japan (WSJ)
In recent years, a chorus of voices has warned that Japan is facing an inevitable crisis to be brought on by a stagnant economy, a shrinking population and the worst debt profile of any major industrialized country. Hedge-fund managers from Kyle Bass of Hayman Advisors LP in Dallas to smaller firms like Commonwealth Opportunity Capital have made money since the earthquake on long-held bets on Japan's government and corporate bonds.

Marc Faber: If Markets Keep Falling, Fed Will Keep Printing (CNBC)
"We may drop 10 to 15 percent. Then QE 2 will come, (then) QE 4, QE 5, QE 6, QE 7—whatever you want. The money printer will continue to print, that I'm sure," said the author of the Gloom, Boom and Doom Report. Later in the interview, he added, "Actually I made a mistake. I meant to say QE 18."

Pandit Picks Emerging Markets as Citigroup Future in New Risk (Bloomberg)
Citigroup now earns more than half its profit from developing countries, Chief Executive Officer Pandit said at a March 9 conference in New York. The bank increased assets in Latin America and Asia by 16 percent to more than $470 billion last year, adding customers in countries such as Brazil, Mexico and India...“If it grows like a weed, maybe it is a weed,” said Mike Mayo, who recommends investors sell Citigroup shares. “They’ve had risk- management mishaps. We’re not convinced the culture has changed enough to prevent similar mishaps from occurring.”

Gaddafi Says European Friends Betrayed Him (Reuters)
"I was really shocked by the attitude of my European friends," he told the newspaper. "They have damaged and endangered a series of major accords on security that were in their interests and the economic cooperation that we had."

Fed's Next Steps Divide Economists as Asset Purchases Slow (Bloomberg)
Of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News last week, 49 said the Fed will buy the full amount of bonds in a bid to boost the economy. Thirty-one said the central bank won’t adjust the pace or duration of the purchases, as it did in the first round of so-called quantitative easing in 2009-10. Respondents were further divided over how long the Fed will keep its bond portfolio stable after the purchases end, with a plurality of 16 betting on a period of four to six months.

Banking's Scourge On Charm Offensive (WSJ)
A wall map of the U.S. in the Consumer Protection Bureau's offices tracks Ms. Warren's methodical campaign with colored push-pins. Each blue pin records an "in-person meeting w/[Elizabeth Warren], while a red pin means a "one-on-one EW call" and a white pin a "group meeting w/EW." The map has 47 pins so far.

EU Agrees On Economic Overhaul (WSJ)
Mr. Trichet said the changes aren't ambitious enough. "We continue to think that the improvement in governance that is presently envisioned is, in our opinion, insufficient to draw the lessons from the crisis we had to cope with," he said.

Roubini: Yen Will Further Weaken In The Long Run (CNBC)
"Japan is going to need significant depreciation of the yen to increase its net exports because domestic demand is going to be anemic for a while. Therefore on a fundamental basis, the yen is going to be much weaker rather than stronger because you need improvement of external balance given the shock to the domestic economy," he said.

Japanese Nuclear Plan Radiation Recedes As Engineers Restore Water Level (Bloomberg)
Water supply at reactors No. 1 and No. 3 stabilized and radiation readings at the front gate of the plant dropped to a level that isn’t “harmful to the human body,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said this afternoon in Tokyo. Separately, Tokyo Electric said it hadn’t decided whether to bring workers after the utility evacuated 750 of its 800 employees following this morning’s blast.

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