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Opening Bell: 09.19.11

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Obama Deficit Plan To Call For $1.5 Trillion In Taxes (Bloomberg)
The President will call for $1.5 trillion in tax increases mostly targeting the wealthy over the next decade as part of a plan to cut the U.S federal deficit by $3 trillion, administration officials said. Obama’s plan, which he is scheduled to unveil at 10:30 a.m. Washington time today at the White House, will form his recommendations to the 12-member congressional committee charged with finding ways to trim at least $1.5 trillion from the deficit. The panel has a Nov. 23 deadline to reach a deal.

UBS Raises Tally On Losses (WSJ)
The bank boosted the tally of the loss it suffered from unauthorized trades to $2.3 billion, as details began to emerge to explain how relatively small losses allegedly caused by a junior trader on one of its desks in London snowballed into one of the largest trading frauds ever. The details and new information emerging Sunday, however, pointed to a new and troubling problem: Even though the bank blamed a rogue trader, some inside the firm knew enough to question his trading fairly early on in the alleged scheme, according to a person familiar with the situation.

UBS Chief Gruebel Dismisses Calls to Quit After Unauthorized Trading Loss (Bloomberg)
“If someone acts with criminal intent, you can’t do anything,” Oswald Gruebel said. “That will always exist in our job. If you ask me whether I feel guilty, then I say no.”

Paulson Still A Bull After His Bare Year (WSJ)
Donning a dark sports jacket, the founder of giant hedge-fund firm Paulson & Co. apologized to a group of investors for the unusual volatility of his funds and vowed to recover recent losses. He acknowledged mistakes and said he was making adjustments. But there's one thing Mr. Paulson said hadn't changed—his bullishness. "The problems in the U.S. can be solved," he said, according to someone at the meeting. The U.S. isn't Europe, he told them. The U.S. economy and stock market will improve over the next year or so...Mr. Paulson, in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, expressed confidence in his view: "Many investors make the mistake of buying high and selling low while the exact opposite is the right strategy." The stock market remains cheap, he added.

Silvio Berlusconi wiretaps reveal boast of spending night with eight women (Guardian)
The newly published wiretaps gives insight into Berlusconi's sexual appetites. "Last night I had a queue outside the door of the bedroom… There were 11 … I only did eight because I could not do it anymore," Berlusconi said. "Listen, all the beds are full here … this lot won't go home, even at gunpoint."

Wall Street's Optimism Fades (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs last Wednesday ratcheted down its end-of-year prediction for the S&P 500 to 1250, from its previous forecast of 1400. Last Monday, Wells Fargo dropped its forecast to 1250 from 1390. And on Friday, Citigroup lowered its target to 1325 from 1400.

Bundesbank Predicts ‘Robust’ German Growth (Bloomberg)
“Overall, a robust expansion of the economy can be expected in the third quarter of 2011,” the Frankfurt-based central bank said in its monthly report today. For the time thereafter, the “outlook has clouded more than previously expected amid heightened uncertainty,” it said.

Lenders: Greece Must Shrink State To Avoid Default (Reuters)
"The ball is in the Greek court. Implementation is of the essence," Bob Traa told an economic conference. Additional savings measures were needed to cut the public deficit to a sustainable level and reduce the public sector's claim on resources—code for axing jobs and cutting pay and pensions—while improving tax collection rather than adding further taxes, he said.

Record Cocaine Bust In Hong Kong (BBC)
Hong Kong police have made their largest ever drugs bust, seizing nearly half a tonne of cocaine with a street value of around $77m (£49m), they say. The haul had been hidden under heaps of recycled plastic materials. The recycled plastic is thought to have been brought into the city in shipping containers. Chief Superintendent John Ribeiro of the Narcotics Bureau said police acted after receiving a tip-off about a South American transnational drug syndicate. Five Mexicans, an American man and a Colombian woman with Hong Kong residency were among those arrested, a police spokesperson was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying. A total of 567kg (1,250 pounds) of cocaine was found.