Opening Bell: 09.21.11

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G.O.P. Urges No Further Fed Stimulus (NYT)
Republican Congressional leaders expressed not only skepticism that further easing would improve the recovery, but also concerns that such actions might be damaging. “Such steps may erode the already weakened U.S. dollar or promote more borrowing by overleveraged consumers,” the letter from Republicans said.

BOE Officials See QE as Increasingly Probable (Bloomberg)
“This is clearly a major swing in a dovish direction,” James Knightley, an economist at ING Group in London, said in an e-mailed note. “Should the Bank of England cut its growth and inflation forecasts, as pretty much everyone else has, then a November increase in asset purchases will look likely.”

Greece to outline more austerity to secure loan (Reuters)
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos acknowledged before the meeting that Greece's public finances would have gone off the rails without checks by the so-called troika of EU/IMF inspectors, who walked out of Athens on September 3 after uncovering a new deficit shortfall. But he also said the EU had failed to manage the debt crisis as decisively and fast as required, and Greece was being blackmailed by the financial markets.

Focus on Goldman Ex-Director (WSJ)
The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office and the Securities and Exchange Commission have maneuvered for months to determine whether and how to proceed against Mr. Gupta, who has denied any wrongdoing. The SEC dropped a civil administrative proceeding against Mr. Gupta last month but said it was "fully committed" to refiling the charges in federal court. It now plans to wait for any criminal charges to be brought by the Justice Department, and it could hold off until any criminal proceedings are completed, these people say.

Netflix Blunder Could Cost It 30% of Subscribers: Study (CNBC)
Sixteen percent of those surveyed are likely to cancel in the next six months, according to Magid’s survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers completed at the end of August. Another 14 percent are “seriously considering” cancellation according to the survey. Netflix currently has 24.6 million subscribers.

Rent-A-Guinea Pig Service Takes Off in Switzerland (Spiegel via MR)
Without her rent-a-guinea pig service, the owner would have to purchase a new, probably younger guinea pig as a companion to the ageing survivor, whose eventual death would force the purchase of yet another guinea pig, locking the owner into an endless cycle of guinea pig purchases in order to adhere to Swiss law -- even though he or she may only ever have wanted one guinea pig in the first place.

Home Forecast Calls for Pain (WSJ)
One in five Americans with a mortgage owes more than their home is worth, and $7 trillion of homeowners' equity has been lost in the bust. Homeowners' equity as a share of home values has fallen to 38.6% from 59.7% in 2005.

Holders of Sovereign Debt (Big Picture)
Note that almost half — 47 percent – of the US$14.7 trillion U.S. federal government debt is held by the Federal Reserve and the government itself, such as the Social Security trust fund. Add to that the 22 percent foreign official holdings (mainly central banks) and almost 70 percent of the debt of the U.S. government is held by non-market/non-profit oriented investors.

SABMiller to Buy Foster's for $10 Billion (WSJ)
When it was first proposed, some SABMiller shareholders questioned the logic of the tie-up, given the company's push to expand into faster-growing developing markets, and not developed ones with lower growth profiles like Australia. But after missing out on recent deals, including the roughly $7 billion acquisition of Mexico's Femsa Cerveza that Heineken NV sealed last year, SABMiller was determined to secure the purchase of Foster's.

Gruebel Meets With UBS Board on Trading Loss After Scolding From Singapore (Bloomberg)
Lutz Roehmeyer, who helps manage about $14 billion at Landesbank Berlin Investment, including UBS shares, said it will probably be up to Gruebel whether or not to resign. If a trader knows the rules and how to evade them, it’s very difficult to prevent him from doing so, he said. “The CEO is the last person who can do something about that,” Roehmeyer said. “If someone robs a UBS branch or steals gold from UBS’s safe, you can’t blame the CEO for that. The scandal has nothing to do with his performance.”

Santorum blasts Google for political discrimination (CBS)
"I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they'd get rid of it," Santorum told Politico. "If you're a responsible business, you don't let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country."

Deputy Mayor Robert Steel says he resides in New York City, but facts paint a different picture (NYDN via Deal Journal)
The Greenwich clerk's office has dog licenses for four Steel dogs: a Welsh springer spaniel named Duke, a Labrador retriever named Jack and two Yorkshire terriers named Lulu and Charlie. ... Asked about the dog licenses, he said the pooches live in Connecticut - but he does not. "Why would I bring my dogs to New York?" he asked repeatedly.

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Opening Bell: 12.04.12

Banks Rediscover Money Management Again As Trading Declines (Bloomberg) Global banks, forced by regulators to reduce their dependence on profits from high-risk trading, have rediscovered the appeal of the mundane business of managing money for clients. Deutsche Bank is now counting on the fund unit it failed to sell to help boost return on equity, a measure of profitability. UBS is paring investment banking as it focuses on overseeing assets for wealthy clients. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, three of the five biggest U.S. banks, are considering expanding asset- management divisions as they seek to grab market share from fund companies such as Fidelity Investments. “Asset management is a terrific business,” said Ralph Schlosstein, chief executive officer of Evercore Partners Inc., a New York-based boutique investment bank that last month agreed to buy wealth manager Mt. Eden Investment Advisors LLC. “Asset managers earn fees consistently without risking capital. Compare that to other businesses in the financial services.” Hedge Funds Win as Europe Will Pay More for Greek Bonds (Bloomberg) Hedge funds drove up prices for Greek sovereign debt last week after determining that European finance ministers would back off a pledge to pay no more than about 28 percent of face value to retire the nation’s bonds. Money managers correctly wagered that not enough bondholders would participate at that level to get the deal done. That would put at risk bailout funds that Greece needs to stave off economic collapse. Transactions involving Greek bonds “increased by the day” after it became clear that the buyback was going to happen, with hedge funds accounting for most of the purchases, said Zoeb Sachee, the London-based head of European government bond trading at Citigroup Inc. “If all goes according to plan, everybody wins,” Sachee said. “Hedge funds must have bought lower than here. If it isn’t successful, Greece risks default and everybody loses.” GE's Swiss lending unit for sale, UBS to bid (Reuters) General Electric Co wants to sell its Swiss consumer lending business, two sources familiar with the matter said, with UBS one of the parties interested in a deal that could be worth up to 1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.62 billion). The sources told Reuters that UBS was one of at least two parties who plan to submit bids in an auction process. "GE wants to finalize the sale of GE Money Bank by the end of the first quarter," said one of the sources. Brian Moynihan: 'Fiscal Cliff' Repercussions Could Stretch in 2014 (CNBC) "I'm more concerned about business behavior slowing down than I am about consumer behavior," Moynihan told "Squawk Box." "I think we're in danger if this thing strings out into 2013 that you could start to have problems of what 2014 would look like." Icahn Fails In Oshkosh Tender Offer (WSJ) The activist investor was tendered only a meek 22% of shares in an offer he used essentially as a proxy for whether shareholders would support his board nominees. Icahn, who had pledged to drop the offer and his proxy fight if he didn’t receive at least 25% of shares tendered, says he is indeed dropping the tender offer. Ex-baseball star Lenny Dykstra sentenced in bankruptcy fraud case (Reuters) Lenny Dykstra, the 1980s World Series hero who pleaded guilty earlier this year to bankruptcy fraud, was sentenced on Monday to six months in federal prison and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service. The 49-year-old former ballplayer - who is already serving time in state prison for grand theft auto, lewd conduct and assault with a deadly weapon - was also ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution. In the federal case, Dykstra pleaded guilty in July to bankruptcy fraud and other charges. According to the written plea agreement, he admitted defrauding his creditors by declaring bankruptcy in 2009, then stealing or destroying furnishings, baseball memorabilia and other property from his $18.5 million mansion. Teacher disciplined for receiving foot massages from students (SLT) A Taylorsville Elementary School teacher has returned to his third-grade classroom after being disciplined for violating professional standards after students reported they scratched his back, rubbed his feet and had other inappropriate contact while at school. Granite School District officials found no criminal conduct by elementary teacher Bryan Watts, 53, who has worked at the school since 2004, but the district claims to have taken "appropriate disciplinary action" following complaints about Watts...Granite District police Detective Randall Porter started an investigation into Watts’ conduct Oct. 9 after a mother expressed concern to the district after her daughter reported odd classroom behavior by Watts. "She complained that her daughter [name redacted] told her that Watts asks students to rub his feet and back during ‘movie time,’ that Watts told the class that they should not tell their parents about activities that happen in the classroom, and that Watts scared a student by hitting a hammer on the student’s desk," Porter wrote in his 19-page report...officials also said there were student statements about odd activities, including playing dodgeball in Watts’ classroom. Knight Capital May Go It Alone (NYP) Knight Capital’s board emerged from another meeting yesterday to review dueling takeover offers without making a decision. Both Getco and Virtu Financial have made bids for the Jersey City, NJ-based Knight, which had to be bailed out several months ago after a $460 million trading glitch nearly tanked the firm. “[Knight] can still decide to remain independent. That’s a real possibility,” said one source familiar with the bidding process. Top US Firms Are Cash-Rich Abroad, Cash-Poor At Home (WSJ) With billions of dollars overseas that may never come back, the Securities and Exchange Commission is concerned that companies haven't been presenting investors with an honest appraisal of their liquidity. As a result, regulators are pressing companies to more clearly lay out how much of their cash is in the U.S. and how much is overseas and potentially encumbered by U.S. taxes. UBS Near Libor Deal (Reuters) UBS is nearing a deal to settle claims some of its staff manipulated interest rates, and could reach agreement with US and British authorities by the end of the year, a source said yesterday. Britain’s Barclays was fined $453 million in June for manipulating Libor benchmark interest rates, and remains the only bank to settle in the investigation, which led to the resignation of the bank’s chairman and CEO. Calpers Crusader Takes Aim At Fees (WSJ) Mr. Desrochers, a 65-year-old native of Canada who last year became head of private-equity investing for the California Public Employees' Retirement System, has told buyout funds to reduce fees if they want cash from the $241 billion pension goliath, one of the nation's largest private-equity investors. He has pushed for Calpers to pay management fees below the industry's standard of 1% or more and asked for performance fees below the usual 15% to 20% of gains, according to people who have dealt with him. Mike Tyson: Brad Pitt Had Sex With My Wife (NYP) Mike Tyson claims that he caught Pitt having sex with his ex-wife, Robin Givens, while they were in the middle of their divorce in the late eighties. Tyson, who was shortly married to Givens from 1988 to 1989, said he and the actress were still sleeping with each other during their separation. "I was getting a divorce, but... every day, before I would go to my lawyer's office to say 'she's a pig and stealing,' I would go to her house to have sex with her," Tyson said on the Yahoo! Sports show “In Depth with Graham Bensinger.” "This particular day, someone beat me to the punch. And I guess Brad got there earlier than I did." How did the heavyweight boxer react? "I was mad as hell...You should have saw his face when he saw me," Tyson said.