Opening Bell: 09.12.11

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
- from Laurence Binyon, "For the Fallen." Sent to us, with this photo taken on the morning of 9/9/2001, by a reader and commenter

Greek default jitters hammer French banks, euro (Reuters)
Greece's deputy finance minister said on Monday the government had cash to operate until next month, highlighting the urgent need for the next emergency loan to stay afloat. "We have definitely maneuvering space within October," Filippos Sachinidis told television channel Mega when asked how much longer the state would be able to pay wages and pensions.

Sweeping change proposed for UK banks (FT, ICB report)
As foreshadowed, the central recommendation of the Independent Commission on Banking, chaired by Sir John Vickers, is that banks’ core operations – including consumer deposits and small business lending – must be ringfenced from the rest of their businesses. The ringfenced entity must have its own board of directors. On capital, the commission held to its interim conclusion from April that the ringfenced entity must maintain equity capital equivalent to 10 per cent of risk-weighted assets.

Bank Chief Has Big Job to Reassure Stockholders (NYT)
Mr. Mayo says the challenge for Mr. Moynihan is that more radical solutions that might lift the stock in the short-term could prove risky in terms of the future of the company and its long-term performance. For example, spinning off its highly profitable Merrill Lynch unit might give the stock a short-term bounce but deprive the bank, the country’s largest, of a major source of profits even as margins in more traditional areas of banking like commercial lending are squeezed.

Dimon sizes up post-crisis banking (FT)
In his office, looking relaxed in white shirt with two buttons undone, Mr Dimon is still exercised about what he sees as a “miscarriage of justice”. US policymakers, he says, have sold their banks down the river – the Yangtze river. “There are plenty of countries out there that are happy with the changes being implemented in the US. They realise that they can be huge beneficiaries of this. I’m talking about China, India, Singapore, Japan. I wouldn’t want to see, 20 years from now, the US asking, ‘what happened? How come the winners in the marketplace are all outside the US?’”

9/11 Flights of Fancy Lead to Moments of Fear (ABC)
The plane was met in the Detroit airport by law enforcement and taken to a remote area for a security screening, but no explosives were found, Joly said. Instead, the "suspicious behavior" was two people "making out" in the bathroom mid-flight, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Italy Sells 11.5 Billion Euros of Bills as Crisis Causes Yields to Surge (Bloomberg)
Italy’s borrowing costs have dropped from a euro-era high since the European Central Bank began buying the nation’s debt on Aug. 8. The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond has fallen more than 100 basis points since reaching a record 6.4 percent Aug. 4 on concern Italy would become the next victim of the region’s debt crisis.

Quattrone Revisits 'Friends' (WSJ)
Among the 24 clients Qatalyst has advised on transactions since its inception, executives and directors at eight of those companies did business with Mr. Quattrone before his regulatory issues, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. Three executives or officials at those companies had "Friends of Frank" brokerage accounts, and other former account holders are in positions at companies that acquired Qatalyst clients.

McGraw-Hill to Break Into Two (DealBook)
“After thorough analysis, the board determined that the creation of these two independent companies is the best and most reliable way to generate superior shareholder value,” chief executive Harold McGraw III, Chairman, said in a statement. “Because both companies will be sharply defined, they will create two pure-play investment opportunities and present a more transparent capital markets profile, enabling investors to better assess their value, performance and potential.”

As Middle Class Shrinks, P&G Aims High and Low (WSJ)
P&G isn't the only company adjusting its business. A wide swath of American companies is convinced that the consumer market is bifurcating into high and low ends and eroding in the middle. They have begun to alter the way they research, develop and market their products. Food giant H.J. Heinz Co., for example, is developing more products at lower price ranges. Luxury retailer Saks Inc. is bolstering its high-end apparel and accessories because its wealthiest customers—not those drawn to entry-level items—are driving the chain's growth.

Green-glowing cats are new tool in AIDS research (Reuters)
"This technology can be applied to a wide range of species, for many of which there are clear applications and potential benefits," Dr. Laurence Tiley of the University of Cambridge said in a statement.

White Castle hates fatty’s gut: Portly patron sues for bigger booths (NYP)
White Castle replied with three “very condescending letters” -- and an offer that added insult to injury. “In each letter was a coupon for three free hamburgers - but the cheese was extra!” according to a lawsuit Kessman filed last week in Manhattan federal court.

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