Opening Bell: 08.02.11

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Barclays Profit Falls On Payouts Over Complaints (MarketWatch)
Barclays aid Tuesday its first-half pretax profit fell 33% as it set aside GBP1 billion to compensate customers who bought faulty insurance products and amid a sharp decline in revenue at its key investment banking unit. The U.K.-based bank posted pretax profit for the six months to June 30 of GBP2.64 billion, compared with GBP3.95 billion a year earlier. Net profit was GBP1.50 billion, down from GBP2.43 billion. However, the bank's bad debts fell and costs were kept in check, with impairment charges falling to GBP1.83 billion, from GBP3.08 billion a year earlier, while the group's adjusted cost-to-income ratio improved to 64%.

Putin Says US Is 'Parasite' On Global Economy (Reuters)
"They are living beyond their means and shifting a part of the weight of their problems to the world economy," Putin told the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi while touring its lakeside summer camp some five hours drive north of Moscow. "They are living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the dollar," Putin said at the open-air meeting with admiring young Russians in what looked like early campaigning before parliamentary and presidential polls.

Debt Deal Puts US On Austerity Path As Economy Falters (Bloomberg)
A deal struck over the weekend to cut $2.4 trillion or more off budget deficits over a decade marks the beginning of a prolonged effort to put the government’s finances into better shape. While the immediate economic impact from the agreement is likely to be small, it will add to a reduction in growth next year of 1.5 percentage points coming from the expiration of past stimulus programs, according to economists at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank Securities. “Over the next 10 years, there will be further spending cuts and higher taxes, and that’s not good for economic growth,” said Paul Dales, senior economist for Capital Economics Ltd. in Toronto. “It is the start of a meaningful move toward fiscal consolidation.”

Fed May Weigh More Stimulus on Flagging Recovery (Bloomberg)
“At a minimum, the FOMC will have a serious debate about the policy options -- what they should do, and what they expect to get from it,” said Roberto Perli, a former associate director in the Fed’s Division of Monetary Affairs, referring to the Federal Open Market Committee. “Growth in the first half was dangerously close to zero,” said Perli, director of policy research at International Strategy & Investment Group.

In this dire economy, even the Tooth Fairy is pinching pennies (CNN)
A recent survey found that the national going rate has seen a 40-cent decline this year: From $3 to $2.60. What's worse? A full 10% of kids are reaching under their pillows ... and coming up empty. Compare that to last year when just 6% of kids found no reason to flash that toothless grin. "It's a cardinal sin not to (pay)," said Rakshanda Liaqat, a mother of two in Phoenix. "It's about a child losing a part of her and the warm belief that the tooth fairy will take care of her precious tooth." "Now, on the other hand, counting the number of teeth your kid loses. And that, too, multiple times in a year? And that, too, having two kids? I can understand the economic recession the Tooth Fairy goes through in terms of her salary." Liaqat tried to leave $10 for every tooth her son lost -- "but my son didn't lose much of his teeth after the recession hit." "He lost it right on time. Before the debt crisis," she said. "Amen to that!!"

Goldman Sachs: Debt Consolidation Can Work But It Will Hurt (CNBC)
Amid signs that the European debt crisis — which already has seen Greece, Ireland and Portugal seek aid from the European Union and International Monetary Fund — is now spreading to Italy, analysts at Goldman Sachs are predicting that while painful, debt consolidation will succeed as soaring borrowing costs force governments to act.

Marc Faber: The Bear Market Is Starting (CNBC)
"The bear market is starting. When you compare equities to bonds and cash I don't think equities are very positive," Faber said in an interview. "The Treasury market is telling you that the economy is in recession," said Faber. "So if the bond market is telling you that the economies of the Western world are weakening, but at the same time the stock market is still relatively high, I think the stock market is vulnerable."

Bank Customers Denied Their Day In Court (WSJ)
Some small and regional U.S. banks are prohibiting unhappy customers from taking their complaints to court or joining class-action lawsuits, instead requiring them to resolve disputes through arbitration. The banks are emboldened by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in April that said state laws can't supersede private contracts that require customers to present their complaints individually to an arbitrator.

Alcohol Math: Who Gets Drunk And Why (WSJ)
Weight matters more than height, Dr. Zakhari says. A man who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 180 pounds will be as affected as a man who is 5-foot-4 and 180 pounds. But a man who is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds will have a lower BAC after consuming the same amount. Women's bodies also tend to have less water than men's, which means the same amount of alcohol will yield an even higher BAC. Age matters, too. Older peoples' livers metabolize alcohol more slowly than younger people's. But excess alcohol can do more damage to young brains, since some portions are still developing, particularly those that govern impulse control and executive function. Women's menstrual cycles are yet another factor: Alcohol metabolism increases about 10% right after ovulation.

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Opening Bell: 04.30.12

Falcone Agrees To Step Aside (WSJ) Hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone agreed to step aside eventually as the public face of his LightSquared Inc. venture, a concession that may keep the wireless-telecommunications company from defaulting on its debt, people familiar with the negotiations said. Mr. Falcone's compromise is expected to prompt LightSquared's lenders to approve a one-week extension on a debt-term violations waiver that expires Monday morning, the people said. If a deal is finalized, Mr. Falcone and LightSquared's lenders plan to continue negotiations for a longer extension of somewhere between 18 months and two years, the people said...Mr. Falcone has said he viewed bankruptcy as the "best way" for him to keep control of the company and keep it from creditors he believes want to "take control and flip" the firm. Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Disruption of Status Quo May 1 (Bloomberg) In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower. “We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail...Tomorrow, beginning at 8 a.m. in Bryant Park, scheduled events include teach-ins, art performances and a staging area for “direct action and civil disobedience,” such as bank blockades. RBS M&A Bankers Plan Boutique Spin-Off (Reuters) The bank, 82-percent owned by the British government, is exiting mergers and acquisitions as part of a restructuring announced in January aimed at reducing costs and exposure to areas of investment banking deemed risky by the authorities. Sources told Reuters last week that the M&A business would be spun off, with around 45 bankers from RBS joining the new firm led by John McIntyre, currently head of corporate finance for EMEA at the bank. Romney Holds Fund Raiser At John Paulson's House (TDB) FYI: A neighbor who witnessed the event from across the street described it to as a large crowd of “older white people, mostly men,” who started showing up around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Around 8 p.m., sirens started blaring as more and more people started to show. Hedge Funds Hurt By Volatility (WSJ) All told, U.S.-based funds that bet on and against stocks had a median return of -0.92% from April 1 through April 13, according to data from Morgan Stanley's MS -1.51% prime brokerage, after having returned 1.16% in March. Returns improved as the markets stabilized. Through April 26, the median return was down 0.03% for the month. City Mulls Happy Hour Ban (NYP) “It’s absolutely been discussed,” confirmed a department source. “It goes to show you the spirit with which they operate. Everyone is a child.” High-level conversations have gone beyond merely “throwing pencils on the ceiling and seeing what sticks,” another Health source revealed. Sources said the happy-hour ban is being pushed by the agency’s marathon-running boss, Commissioner Thomas Farley, and is serious enough for one source to say the alcohol lobby had better find itself a good lawyer. Agency spokesman Sam Miller denied existing “plans to pursue any policy around discount-alcohol sale.” Goldman: US Likely Added Only 125,000 Jobs in April (CNBC) The forecast is far lower than the Reuters estimate of 170,000, and the average 177,250 jobs created every month from December to March. Hedge Funds Bet Against Eurozone (FT) “The deeper balance of payments problems in the eurozone remain unresolved, and cannot be resolved by liquidity assistance alone,” noted Brevan Howard, Europe’s biggest global macro hedge fund in its last letter to investors. Shiller: We Are in Age of ‘Late Great Depression’ (CNBC) “Our whole economy has been affected by variations in confidence. Central banks are sort of trusted, but the actions they have often affect people’s confidence by appearance rather than substance. We’re not in the most trusting mood now,” Shiller said. Goldman’s O’Neill Reported Among Candidates for BOE Chief (Bloomberg) When asked in September 2007 if he would be interested in the role at a time when the government was considering whether to reappoint King, O’Neill told John Dawson onBloomberg Television that he couldn’t imagine that “anyone would be daft enough to offer it to me.” He added that he very much enjoyed his then job as head of global economic research at Goldman Sachs. Titanic II Planned by Billionaire Palmer in Chinese Yard (Bloomberg) Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer plans to build a 21st-century replica of the Titanic and sail it from England to New York accompanied by the Chinese navy by the end of 2016. He has signed a first-stage agreement with Nanjing-based CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the ship as part of a planned fleet of luxury liners, the Gold Coast, Queensland-based businessman said in an e-mailed statement today.

Opening Bell: 09.14.12

Trial to Begin for Former UBS Trader Accused of Hiding Huge Loss (Dealbook) UBS will face the harsh glare of the spotlight again on Friday, as opening arguments begin in the trial of a former trader accused of hiding a multibillion-dollar loss at the investment bank. Kweku M. Adoboli, 32, the former trader, faces charges of false accounting and fraud in connection with a $2.3 billion loss at the bank. He has pleaded not guilty. “As uncomfortable as the entire trial will be for UBS, it will show us what the consequences are when misconduct occurs or when individuals do not take their responsibilities seriously,” the bank’s chief executive, Sergio P. Ermotti, said in an internal memo made public by the firm. JPMorgan Erases Stock Drop Fueled by London Trading Loss (Bloomberg) JPMorgan, the lender that plunged as much as 24 percent in the month after disclosing a multibillion-dollar trading loss, has erased that decline. The bank’s stock climbed 3.7 percent to $41.40 yesterday in New York, eclipsing the $40.74 closing price of May 10, when Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon announced what was then a trading loss of about $2 billion at the chief investment office in London. The loss this year now stands at $5.8 billion. Dutch and Germans Give European Union Reasons to Cheer (NYT) On Wednesday, the German Constitutional Court found a way to declare that the permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, is legal, clearing the way to use it in time to recapitalize troubled banks as well as governments. And the Dutch voted for mainstream parties in a parliamentary election, choosing not to be enticed by parties wanting to leave the euro. Combined with the European Central Bank’s decision to restart its bond-buying program in return for more budget discipline, immediately lowering interest rates on Italian and Spanish bonds, European leaders could begin to feel that perhaps the worst is over in the euro crisis, at least for now. “With the Dutch shying away from anti-European parties the same day the German Constitutional Court rules in favor of the E.S.M., Sept. 12 seems to have been a good day for the euro,” Dimitry Fleming of ING Groep NV said in an analysis via e-mail. Not all is well, of course. Greece remains a mess, and will probably need even more money. A decision keeps being postponed about when, and whether, to grant Athens another big portion of loan money it needs to stay afloat. Deutsche Bank urges rivals to share IT (FT) Deutsche Bank is seeking to convince rival investment banks to share markets and trading software in an effort collectively to lower costs for the financial industry. Sharing software would be an unusual step for investment banks, which have historically closely guarded their technology, much of which is still built in-house at great expense. But Deutsche Bank’s efforts underscore the intense pressure banks are under to cut costs as lower markets activity and new rules eat into their profit margins...Sharing market software, Deutsche says, will save it and other big global banks some of the billions of dollars and euros that they would otherwise have spent building or improving on individual technology systems. Woman Tells Police She 'Accidentally' Stabbed Boyfriend (AZC) Margarita H. Zaragoza told police she and her boyfriend were arguing over alcohol that he poured down the sink when she "accidentally" stabbed him with a steak knife, according to the document. Zaragoza said her boyfriend came up behind her to talk to her while she was washing a knife in the sink, according to police, and that she accidentally stabbed him in the arm when she turned to talked to him. The victim told police his girlfriend became angry after he poured her alcohol down the sink because she is pregnant and isn't supposed to be drinking, the document said. The victim said Zaragoza grabbed a knife while he was getting rid of the alcohol and stabbed him twice in the arm, according to the document. Roger Altman: The US Economy May Surprise (CNBC) Looking out a few years, the Evercore founder said, “We’re going to have a bigger snap-back in housing than people think. The U.S. has undergone a breathtaking revolution in oil and gas production and the growth impact of that is underrated.” Altman also pointed to a bounce-back in lending and strong industrial competitiveness as reasons to be optimistic about the economy longer term. Fed Acts To Fix Job Market (WSJ) "If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the [Fed] will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability," the Fed said in its postmeeting statement. Berkshire Climbs To Four-Year High On Fed's Action (Bloomberg) So that's nice. Mets fan who rushed Citi Field after Johan Santana's no-hitter slapped with $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service (NYDN) Rafael Diaz, 32, was hit with the penalties after he pleaded guilty Thursday to interfering with a sporting event. “The defendant’s antics have resulted in a criminal record, the paying of thousands of dollars in fines and civil penalties, and – perhaps the worse punishment for any true Mets fan – precludes him from ever again visiting Citi Field,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. Diaz, of Massapequa, L.I., who joined the celebration on the pitcher's mound June 1, was ordered to hand over $4,000 in civil penalties to the Mets and $1,000 to the city.

Opening Bell: 2.25.16

Citi says recession is coming; Beijing is new billionaire capital of the world; The trade of the decade; Man Changes Name To 'Bacon Double Cheeseburger'; and more.