Opening Bell: 05.19.11

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I.M.F. Chief Quits in Wake of Charges of Sexual Attack (NYT)
“It is with infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the Executive Board my resignation from my post of managing director of the I.M.F.,” he said in a statement dated Wednesday and released early Thursday by the I.M.F. “I think at this time first of my wife — whom I love more than anything — of my children, of my family, of my friends.”

Most French People 'Think DSK Was Set Up' (Sky News)
The survey, taken before the 62-year-old's first court appearance on Monday, showed that 57% of respondents believe the Socialist presidential hopeful has been set up.

Lagarde May Stake Claim as First Female IMF Chief (Bloomberg)
A lawyer who became the first female chairman of Chicago- based firm Baker & McKenzie LLP, Lagarde was appointed as finance minister by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007, just before the onset of the financial crisis. Lagarde’s negotiating abilities helped clinch agreement on the euro area’s sovereign bailout fund announced in the early hours of May 10 last year, according to a person who was there…A fluent speaker of English, Lagarde attended a year of high school as an exchange student at Holton Arms, a private girls’ school in Bethesda, Maryland. An avid swimmer, young Christine was selected for the French national synchronized swim team when she was 15 and competed internationally for two years.

J.P. Morgan, Fund Investors Rebut Meredith Whitney (MarketBeat)
J.P. Morgan Asset Management chucked a note over the transom in response to Meredith Whitney’s latest hate letter to the muni market.Their take is that Ms. Whitney makes some points they sort of agree with, but that she seriously overstates the default risk.

Levin sees ‘real hope’ of fresh Goldman probe (FT)
The senator said Goldman’s payment of $550m to settle fraud allegations from the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with the marketing of one structured debt product did not preclude other allegations. He said Goldman executives misled his committee but suggested they might have stopped short of lies with “wiggle words”. “They obviously spent a lot of time parsing words,” he said, adding he was “not going to judge whether they committed perjury”. He said even large settlements were not satisfactory without admissions of guilt.

Goldman Sachs Back at No. 1 (Deal Journal)
According to figures from Dealogic, Goldman popped to the No. 1 spot for the first time this year in the league tables, the closely watched listing of M&A advisers ranked by the value of deals on which they advise. J.P. Morgan had held the crown for global deal advisers since Jan. 18.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's two sons born days apart (CNN)
A son fathered by Arnold Schwarzenegger with his housekeeper was born less than a week after Maria Shriver gave birth to another Schwarzenegger son, according to birth records obtained Wednesday by CNN.

SEC probes electronic platform failures (FT)
The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating computer system failures at electronic marketplaces including Nasdaq to determine whether internal controls are sufficient, according to people familiar with the matter. The investigation is being handled by the enforcement division��s market abuse unit and is part of a broader regulatory review of stock exchanges following last year’s “flash crash”, recent hacking attempts and trading glitches

Perella Weinberg to Fork Over $11.5 Million in Dreier Fraud (Deal Journal)
Under the deal, [Chapter 11 trustee Sheila M.] Gowan will drop a lawsuit in which she sought the return of $24.1 million in payments she says Perella Weinberg and an affiliated fund received on the approximately $60 million they spent on the promissory notes that Dreier was hawking to investors such as themselves.

Smith Barney Deal Still On (WSJ)
In its first-quarter report, Morgan Stanley posted a $655 million pretax loss related to the Mitsubishi joint venture. After reports surfaced about the loss, Mitsubishi agreed to convert $7.8 billion in preferred stock for 385 million shares of the company. That conversion boosted Morgan Stanley's Tier 1 ratio and presumably will give it added capital for the planned buyout of Citigroup's stake in the Smith Barney venture. Morgan Stanley can begin buying that stake next year under its agreement with Citi. Mr. Gorman said reports of Morgan Stanley asking Citi to alter the terms of that deal weren't true.

Nominations Submitted for the SEC (WSJ)
The White House on Wednesday submitted to the Senate a pair of nominees for the Securities and Exchange Commission, requesting a second term for Democrat Luis Aguilar and naming former SEC staffer Dan Gallagher Jr. for a Republican seat that is due to become vacant in June…The SEC is an independent federal agency with five commissioners.

LinkedIn prices IPO at $45 a share (MarketWatch)
LinkedIn had raised its IPO pricing range earlier this week to between $42 and $45 a share, from $32 to $35 a share -- thanks to strong demand. The public offering is expected to raise roughly $217 million for the company.

Yen falls as Japan enters recession (FT)
Gross domestic product fell by an annualised 3.7 per cent in the first three months, after a revised fall of 3 per cent in last quarter of 2010. Analysts had expected the economy to contract by just 1.9 per cent. A further contraction is expected in the second quarter before the economy rebounds as reconstruction spending kicks in, although the Japanese economy has suffered more than a decade of low growth and weak consumer spending.

Obama imposes sanctions on Syrian leader, 6 aides (WaPo)
The Obama administration ramped up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday with economic sanctions that targeted his personal finances and linked him explicitly to human rights abuses in his government’s brutal, two-month-old crackdown on demonstrators. The sanctions, which named six other top Syrian officials, represented a significant escalation in the administration’s public criticism of the Assad regime, marking the first time the ruler was penalized for the ongoing clashes that have left more than 900 people dead and thousands in prison.

Zombie Apocalypse? The CDC Describes How To Be Prepared (HuffPo)
The U.S. government wants to make sure that in the event of a zombie invasion, you know what to do. That's right. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shocked us all with their post on how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. The CDC post, "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse," came out Monday and has been gaining media traction since -- the link has been down for much of the day, presumingly due to over-traffic.

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