Opening Bell: 08.23.11

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Head Of S&P To Resign (WSJ)
Deven Sharma will step down as president on Sept. 12 and be succeeded by Douglas Peterson, chief operating officer of Citigroup Inc.'s Citibank unit. Mr. Sharma will remain at S&P through the end of the year in an advisory capacity, working with McGraw-Hill Cos. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Harold "Terry" McGraw III as the company explores a separation of its education business.

White House To Scale Back Regulations On Businesses (WSJ)
The Obama administration will release final plans Tuesday for ending or cutting back hundreds of regulations, an effort to reduce the burden on business and counter criticism that the White House is tone-deaf to business concerns. Certain railroad cars won't have to install expensive technology, hospitals will be able to skip a round of federal paperwork and low-risk travelers to the U.S. will enjoy expedited entry, officials said. Some businesses will be allowed to file federal forms electronically. The administration estimates that about a dozen of the changes will save businesses some $10 billion over five years, with other smaller initiatives adding to the total.

Obama Talks To Buffett About The Economy (Bloomberg)
“The president and Mr. Buffett discussed the overall outlook on the economy and the reaction to the headwinds we’ve experienced over the last couple of months,” said Josh Earnest, an administration spokesman. “They talked a little bit about some possible measures that would spur investment and increase economic growth and they also talked about some measures that could address the long-term fiscal situation in this country.”

SocGen Bids To Stablize Share Price (WSJ)
Société Générale SA, whose shares have come under severe pressure in recent weeks, said Tuesday that it had signed a liquidity contract with Rothschild & Cie to prevent excessive volatility in its stock price. Société Générale, France's second-largest listed bank, has set aside €170 million for Rothschild to buy and sell shares in the market to prevent swings in prices. "The idea is not to keep the stock price high but rather to keep it steady," a spokesperson for Société Générale said.

Hurricane Irene Marks First Big US Threat In Years (AP)
Forecasters say the hurricane could grow to a monstrous Category 4 storm with winds of more than 131 mph before it's predicted to come ashore this weekend on the U.S. mainland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami expected Irene to reach Category 3 strength on Tuesday, said spokesman Dennis Feltgen.

Rebels Near Gaddafi's Tripoli Stronghold (Reuters)
Rebels battling forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi were nearing the gates of his heavily fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound in the center of Tripoli on Tuesday, a correspondent for satellite news channel Al Jazeera reported.

Analyst: Greek Crisis Now Worse, Not Better (CNBC)
One month later, and the situation appears to be getting worse rather than better, according to Simon Derrick, the head of currency research at Bank of New York Mellon. “The first of these factors was the Finnish government’s insistence during the negotiations in July on securing collateral against its contribution to the package,” Derrick said in a research note. Given the nature of the deal between Greece and Finland, others like Austria, the Netherlands and Slovenia demanded the same deal. The Dutch finance minister is now threatening to veto the entire Greek agreement, saying the deal is “not compatible with the principle of equal treatment of all euro countries”.

BOJ Chief Gets Vocal About Economic Woes (WSJ)
While Japan's outstanding debt is significantly higher than the struggling European nations, Tokyo hasn't faced the same global market pressure because about 95% of Japanese government bonds are held domestically. Mr. Shirakawa warned the elected leaders that they shouldn't be so complacent, and that the notion that Japanese government bonds were immune from global uncertainty was "wrong," according to Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano, who attended the meeting. And if Japanese investors suffer losses from their U.S. Treasury holdings, Mr. Shirakawa told the group, they might sell Japanese bonds to cover those losses.

Downgrade: Is S&P To Blame Or Congress? (CNBC)
Outgoing President Deven Sharma cited one such U.S. risk factor that, he said, had helped push the ratings agency toward its decision: He said the battle over raising the debt ceiling — a three-month-long Congressional battle that was acrimonious even by Washington standards — had played a part in the decision to downgrade because it "speaks to how the fiscal, economic and monetary choices are being made”.

Angel Pagan delayed in bathroom while on deck, New York Mets lose 10-0 to Phillies (NYDN)
The count was 3-2 on Nick Evans in the top of the fifth inning Monday night when Angel Pagan realized he was needed on the field. In the dugout, Terry Collins shrugged and began yelling for Pagan. "They said, 'He's upstairs,' " Collins said, after Cliff Lee and the Phillies unloaded on the Mets for a 10-0 win. "I said, 'Well, he's on deck.' I just thought he was doing something. Changing shoes. I don't know what it was." Pagan was not changing shoes.

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