Opening Bell: 09.26.11

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Grübel's Exit Leaves UBS in Lurch (WSJ)
The surprise resignation of Mr. Grübel deprives UBS of a veteran banker who had gone a long way in restoring the fortunes of a bank that was among the hardest hit by the financial crisis. Since his arrival at UBS in February 2009, he pulled the bank back from 19.7 billion Swiss francs ($21.8 billion) in 2008 losses. He also resolved a bruising tax-evasion scandal involving allegations by U.S. authorities that UBS bankers helped Americans evade taxes; UBS admitted wrongdoing as part of a sweeping settlement. And he stemmed the outflow of wealthy investors at UBS's huge private bank. But Mr. Grübel had yet to completely stabilize a bank that has lurched from one crisis to another since 2007.

Trader Pay May Face Limits Under Volcker Rule (Bloomberg)
The rule, which aims to ban most proprietary trading by banks with federally insured deposits, would exempt trades related to market-making as long as the activity met at least seven standards, or principles. One principle would be that traders get paid from fees and the spread of the transactions rather than the appreciation or profit from their positions.

China Central Bank Sets Yuan Post At Record (WSJ)
Monday's move by the PBOC is "a signal to the market that China will keep letting the yuan appreciate despite the risk aversion in the rest of the world," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, Hong Kong-based senior economist at Credit Agricole CIB. "As China continues to focus on fighting inflation, a stronger yuan is a quick way to bring down inflationary pressures," he said.

Betting On Bernanke Returns 28% For Treasury (Bloomberg)
Treasuries due in 10 or more years have returned 28 percent in 2011, exceeding the 24.4 percent gain in all of 2008 during worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. Not since 1995, when the securities soared 30.7 percent, have investors done so well owning longer-dated U.S. government debt.

Cocaine To Blow Economy (NYP)
Here’s another sign of the stalled economy -- New Yorkers are ditching their coke habits. Cocaine-related emergency-room admissions, overdoses and requests for rehab have declined since the economy started its 2008 decline, according to data obtained by The Post. “It is sort of on a slight but steady downward trend,” said Dr. Stephen Ross, director of NYU’s Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction. “I treat patients in private practice. Many cocaine addicts tell me stories they don’t have enough money to buy it anymore.”

SEC May Recommend Legal Action Against S&P (AP)
The staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering recommending civil legal action against the Standard & Poor's debt ratings agency over its rating of a 2007 collateralized debt offering...McGraw-Hill, which owns S&P, said Monday that it received a Wells Notice from the SEC's staff on Thursday.

Central Bankers the Only Defense Against Apocalypse (CNBC)
Under pressure from the United States and IMF to act, European politicians do not appear ready to take immediate action, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel warning on Sunday night that allowing Greece to default would destroy investor confidence in Europe.

Economist: Euro Facing 'Outright' Recession (CNBC)
"The euro zone will enter a recession by the fourth quarter of this year with contractions in growth for this quarter and the first quarter of next year, which in the current environment could be very damaging," said Silvio Peruzzo, European economist at RBS.

Congress Forced To Stay As Shutdown Looms (WSJ)
Congress was scheduled to be off this week, but lawmakers must stay in Washington because they made no progress over the weekend in settling a dispute over spending that threatens a possible government shutdown.

New Way To Build A Snowman: Patented! (TechDirt)
Anyway, go ahead and check out patent # 8,011,991 for inventor Ignacio Marc Asperas of Melville, NY, which is technically for an "Apparatus for facilitating the construction of a snow man/woman." The patent itself declares: "The following is not a joke patent. Its completely serious and is a serious undertaking to obtain a patent." Here's Asperas' pitch: The history of the snow man or snow woman is unknown. But, I have to say this. Whoever the first person was to think to form snow into a human figure was a genius. For untold years thereafter, children and adults alike have been thrilled and received joy in making and watching others make snowmen, err women. You know what I mean. At any rate, what is remarkable is that no one has ever thought, or at least reduced to practice, a way to make snow people easy and fun. I have done an abbreviated patent search and there is nothing relating to the subject of creating a snowman. Unbelievable since it is so much fun and considering the effort involved. But, if no one has thought of it, well, no one has thought of it.

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By D J Shin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 10.18.17

Rejoice, humans, quant funds are failing; buuuuut you're still getting replaced by robots; SEC says Rio Tinto lied to investors; "Master, please brand me, it would be an honor"; and more.

Opening Bell: 02.19.13

SAC’s Cohen May Face SEC Suit as Deposition Hurts Case (Bloomberg) U.S. investigators have subpoenaed a 2011 deposition of SAC Capital Advisors LP founder Steven Cohen, whose sworn statements on insider-trading compliance may hurt him as he tries to persuade regulators not to file a lawsuit with the potential to shut his $14 billion firm. The SEC told the hedge fund Nov. 20 that it planned to sue SAC for securities fraud and so-called control-person liability for failing to supervise employees. The same day, the agency accused an ex-SAC portfolio manager and his hedge-fund unit of insider trading for persuading Cohen, 56, to make $700 million in illegal trades. Prosecutors also indicted the manager. Cohen’s testimony, reviewed by Bloomberg News, establishes his personal control over the unit, CR Intrinsic, and records his unfamiliarity with his firm’s compliance and ethics policies on insider trading. “I’ve read the compliance manual, but I don’t remember exactly what it says,” Cohen said. Morgan Stanley Strives to Coordinate 2 Departments Often at Odds (Dealbook) Traditionally, traders and investment bankers think of themselves as the elite of Wall Street and look down on the retail business, seeing it as pedestrian...Yet since Morgan Stanley moved to acquire control of the Smith Barney brokerage business from Citigroup in 2009, the balance of power has shifted to wealth management, which now accounts for almost 52 percent of the company’s earnings, up from roughly 16 percent in 2006. Paulson Leads Funds to Bermuda Tax Dodge Aiding Billionaires (Bloomberg) A decade after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service threatened to crack down on what it said were abuses by hedge-fund backed reinsurers, more high-profile money managers are setting up shop in tax havens. Paulson, SAC Capital Advisors LP’s Steven A. Cohen and Third Point LLC’s Daniel Loeb have started Bermuda reinsurance companies since 2011, following a similar Cayman Islands venture by Greenlight Capital Inc.’s David Einhorn. Options Activity Questioned Again (WSJ) Over the past year, unusually large positions were established shortly in advance of news that moved shares of Nexen Inc., Youku Inc., Human Genome Sciences Inc., Constellation Brands Inc. and, most recently, CBS Corp. All turned profitable after the news. A spokeswoman for the SEC, which regulates stock and options trading, said the agency would neither confirm nor deny the existence of inquiries into trading tied to those companies. No charges have been filed in the Heinz case, which was linked to a Swiss trading account, but the move to freeze the assets is one of the fastest enforcement actions ever filed by the agency, according to officials. The SEC said Friday that the timing and size of the trades were highly suspicious given the account had no history of trading in Heinz securities in the last six months. Prosecutors, Shifting Strategy, Build New Wall Street Cases (Dealbook) Criticized for letting Wall Street off the hook after the financial crisis, the Justice Department is building a new model for prosecuting big banks. In a recent round of actions that shook the financial industry, the government pushed for guilty pleas, rather than just the usual fines and reforms. Prosecutors now aim to apply the approach broadly to financial fraud cases, according to officials involved in the investigations...The new strategy first materialized in recent settlements with UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which were accused of manipulating interest rates to bolster profit. As part of a broader deal, the banks’ Japanese subsidiaries pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud. Russians Wade Into the Snow to Seek Treasure From the Sky (NYT) Ever since the meteor exploded somewhere over this impoverished Siberian town, Larisa V. Briyukova wondered what to do with the fist-size stone she found under a hole in the roof tiles of her woodshed. On Monday, a stranger knocked on her door, offering about $60, Ms. Briyukova said. After some haggling, they settled on a price of $230. A few hours later, another man pulled up, looked at the hole in the roof and offered $1,300. “Now I regret selling it,” said Ms. Briyukova, a 43-year-old homemaker. “But then, who knows? The police might have come and taken it away anyway.” On Friday, terror rained from the skies, blowing out windows and scaring people over an enormous swath of Siberia. But by Monday, for many people what fell from the sky had turned to pure gold, and it touched off a rush to retrieve the fragments, many buried in deep February snows. Many of those out prospecting looked a lot like Sasha Zarezina, 8, who happily plunged into a snowbank here in this village of a thousand, laughing, kicking and throwing up plumes of powdery snow. Then she stopped, bent over and started to dig. “I found one!” she yelled. A warm breath and a rub on her pants later, a small black pebble, oval like a river rock, charred and smooth, was freed of ice. While trade in material from meteorites is largely illegal, there is a flourishing global market, with fragments widely available for sale on the Internet, usually at modest prices. At least one from the recent meteor was available on eBay on Monday for $32, and there is a Web site called Star-bits.com devoted to the trade — much to the displeasure of scientists and the countries where the objects were found. UK's Lloyds fined $6.7 million for mis-sold insurance (Reuters) Britain's financial regulator on Tuesday fined Lloyds Banking Group 4.3 million pounds ($6.7 million) for failing to handle complaints relating to insurance sold on loans and mortgages properly. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said failings in the bank's systems and controls resulted in up to 140,000 customers experiencing delays in receiving compensation for being mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI). Horsemeat Scandal Draws in Nestlé (FT) Switzerland-based Nestle on Monday removed pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain and suspended deliveries of all processed products containing meat from German supplier, H.J. Schypke, after tests revealed traces of horse DNA above 1 per cent. Nestle said it had informed the authorities. Is Berlusconi Getting a Poll Bounce From Tax Evaders? (CNBC) The media mogul, who has been convicted of tax fraud, has promised to introduce a tax amnesty for evaders if elected and to abolish the real estate tax. Swelling U.S. Labor Force Keeps Fed at Ease (Bloomberg) In the short run, the larger labor force will have an unfortunate side effect: It will slow the fall in unemployment. Mellman sees the jobless rate dropping to 7.5 percent by year- end from 7.9 percent now. It fell 0.7 percentage point in 2012. In the longer run, a bigger supply of labor is good news because it swells the pool of Americans available and willing to work, enhancing the economy’s potential to grow, according to Julie Hotchkiss, a policy adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. It also has a silver lining for investors. The gradual fall in unemployment will allow policy makers to keep monetary policy looser for longer without having to worry about igniting a wage- driven rise in inflation. Couple Getting Affectionate Drive Through Home (WO) "She told the investigating trooper that her and the boyfriend were getting a little amorous and the trooper suspects that's probably why she lost control of the vehicle," said Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kim Montes. Walker lost control of the vehicle and slammed into an unoccupied home. The vehicle went all the way through the house. The impact was so dramatic, the pressure blew a window in another part of the house out. Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Walker was injured when debris fell inside the vehicle. She was taken to Halifax Medical Center to be checked out. Her boyfriend, Charles Phillips, was not hurt.

Opening Bell: 2.9.15

HSBC was naughty; Brady Dougan is having a no good very bad month; Barclays and UBS are being investigated re: FX; "Principal used struggling school’s funds for private gym"; Berkshire Hathaway sucks at disclosing financials; Greenspan sees Greek exit from EU as forgone conclusion; "Dominatrix fears ‘Fifty Shades’ will hurt her business"; AND MORE.

Opening Bell: 5.7.15

Billions in FX settlements coming; Dan Loeb rips Warren Buffett; Lagarde comes down on banker pay; UBS bankers turned restauranteurs; "Naked Man Threatens Neighbors With AK-47"; and more.