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Opening Bell: 4.18.11

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Citi Profit Falls 32 Percent (Reuters, Citi)
Citigroup's first-quarter profit fell 32 percent as the bank lost less money on bad loans but struggled to grow its business. The bank said this morning it earned $3.0 billion, or 10 cents per share. That compared with $4.4 billion, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.

Geithner Says GOP Prepared To Lift Debt Limit (WSJ)
In interviews aired on the Sunday talk shows, Mr. Geithner said House Speaker John Boehner and other senior Republicans told President Barack Obama in discussions last week that they were aware of the risk of a credit default and were open to lifting the limit even in the absence of a comprehensive deal to slash the country's debt load.

Greenspan Says US Should Let Bush-Era Tax Cuts Expire (Bloomberg)
We should “allow the Bush tax cuts to expire,” Greenspan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today, calling the economic crisis “imminent and dire.” We should “put the rates back to where they were during the Clinton administration,” he said.

Hedge Funds Bounce Back (WSJ)
Total hedge-fund assets are approaching $2 trillion and are soon expected to surpass their peak in early 2008, according to industry analysts. Even start-ups and smaller funds, which were shunned by many investors in the wake of the crisis, are benefiting.

Emerging Nations Reject Capital Plan (WSJ)
The IMF's plan would have encouraged nations to treat capital controls as a last resort, after they had first tried use other tools, such as policies on interest rates, currency values and government budgets. But ministers of developing economies resisted vehemently, viewing the proposal as an effort by advanced economies to hamstring their policies. Brazil, Turkey, South Korea and several other developing countries have adopted capital controls over the past year to limit surging inflows. "We oppose any guidelines, frameworks or 'codes of conduct' that attempt to constrain, directly or indirectly, policy responses of countries facing surges in volatile capital inflows," Brazil's finance minister, Guido Mantega, told the IMF's steering-committee meeting.

Robot Does Hazardous Duty At Nuclear Plant (WSJ)
The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said Sunday that the PackBot, a small robot that scoots around on tank-like treads, would monitor radiation and oxygen levels to find out whether conditions were safe enough to allow human workers to go in to try to bring the nuclear crisis at the plant under control.

FDIC Eyes Tougher Rules For Big Banks (FT)
Sheila Bair warned that regulators now had the authority to demand that US banks break themselves into smaller parts — and it “could and should be used."

Is Sitting Lethal? (NYT)
Over a lifetime, the unhealthful effects of sitting add up. Alpa Patel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, tracked the health of 123,000 Americans between 1992 and 2006. The men in the study who spent six hours or more per day of their leisure time sitting had an overall death rate that was about 20 percent higher than the men who sat for three hours or less. The death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40 percent higher. Patel estimates that on average, people who sit too much shave a few years off of their lives...Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. “Excessive sitting,” Dr. Levine says, “is a lethal activity.”

Ferrari Should Be Valued at $7.3 Billion in IPO, Marchionne Says (Bloomberg)
Fiat SpA Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said he’s told bankers pushing him to pursue an initial public offering of Ferrari that the division may be worth more than 5 billion euros ($7.3 billion).

Greece Denies Restructuring Plan As Traders Raise Bet Default (Bloomberg)
“Restructuring is not an issue we’re discussing,” Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said in an April 16 interview in Washington. “The pain and the cost” of doing so would be greater than repaying lenders, he told reporters the same day.

Greek Default Would Mean Pain All-Around (WSJ)
Economists at the Brussels think tank Bruegel calculate that roughly 20% of Greece's debt at the end of 2010 was held by domestic banks. They are in difficult straits, and forcing losses on them may simply require the country's rescuers to come up with more money to help.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Blames iPad For American Unemployment (HP)
On Friday, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. addressed the United States's current unemployment crisis and claimed the iPad was "probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs." Jackson, himself an iPad owner, expanded on his statement by pointing to the recent bankruptcy of Borders Books. "Why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes and Noble? Just buy an iPad and download your book, download your newspaper, download your magazine," the Congressman said.