Opening Bell: 09.29.11

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Euro Rises as German Lawmakers Vote to Approve Expansion of Bailout Fund (Bloomberg)
The vote in Berlin on changes to the EFSF allows the fund to buy the bonds of distressed member states and offer emergency loans to governments, raising Germany’s guarantees to 211 billion euros from 123 billion euros.

Bernanke says Fed would act if inflation falls (Reuters)
In his first public remarks since the Fed launched a fresh measure aimed at keeping down long-term borrowing costs, Bernanke indicated a willingness to push deeper into the realm of unconventional policy if economic growth remains anemic. ... "If inflation falls too low or inflation expectations fall too low, that would be something we have to respond to because we do not want deflation," Bernanke said.

Greek debt holders object to new deal threat (FT)
A person intimately involved in the deal accuses officials in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands who want to increase the haircuts of engaging in activity that is “pretty close to market manipulation”. He argues that prices have collapsed because politicians have increasingly talked of default and bigger losses.

An Investment Banker’s Fortunes Rise With Brazil’s (NYT)
Yet possibly no one embodies the financial ascent of Brazil better than Mr. Esteves. At 43, he has built BTG Pactual into Brazil’s largest independent investment bank and has amassed a fortune estimated at $3 billion by Forbes magazine. Still, he has driven the same Mercedes pickup for four years and takes only two weeks of vacation a year. ... The BTG in BTG Pactual stands for banking and trading group. But Mr. Esteves says it also stands for “back to the game,” because he bought the company back from UBS. When someone suggested that it could mean “better than Goldman,” he just laughed.

Crook busted after robbing same bank for third day in row (NYP)
After the second heist, the suspect’s security-camera photo was put up in police stations and published in yesterday’s Post. Still, he couldn’t resist taking a third shot at the bank yesterday. Just after 9 a.m. he passed a demand note that said, “I have a gun put all the money in the bag.” “It was the same dumbass who hit us yesterday,” said one worker. “He was huge.”

Business attacks transaction tax plan (FT)
The British government said a financial transaction tax could only work if it were implemented globally. The UK CBI employers’ group attacked the tax plan as a “crude instrument” that would divert trading activity to New York and Hong Kong. “The Commission’s decision to press ahead with a financial transaction tax is completely misguided at a time when it’s clear that Europe needs a relentless focus on growth,” said Neil Bentley, the CBI’s deputy director-general.

H-P Hires Banker In Defense Move (WSJ)
Goldman was recently brought on board to help H-P formulate defenses in case it becomes the target of shareholders seeking change, the people added. Typically, companies with such a concern put in "poison pills" – shareholder rights' plans that make takeovers more difficult for activist investors. ... Analysts have said H-P's seeming lack of direction, the management-related instability, as well as the potential for restructuring its portfolio of hardware and software assets, make the company an attractive target for investor activism.

Pepper-spray videos spark furor as NYPD launches probe of Wall Street protest incidents (NYDN)
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Internal Affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board will investigate. He was skeptical the video snippets show the whole story. "In my experience, proponents of a certain position would show you just what they want to show you," Kelly said. "Hopefully, [probers] will look at the totality of the information that they will gather."

Fund Goes Down Blind Alley (WSJ)
Real-estate developer Stephen Ross and his partners spent more than a year digging into U.S. banks, including more than 100 with loans to local bakeries, gas stations and amusement parks. They hoped to spend about $1.1 billion buying or investing in lenders. But the deeper they went, the worse things looked. As a result, Related Cos., the New York firm in which Mr. Ross is chief executive, gave back the money it raised from roughly 150 investors, including hedge-fund manager David Einhorn.

Interns, Unpaid by a Studio, File Suit (NYT)
One plaintiff, Alex Footman, a 2009 Wesleyan graduate who majored in film studies, said he had worked as a production intern on “Black Swan” in New York from October 2009 to February 2010. He said his responsibilities included preparing coffee for the production office, ensuring that the coffee pot was full, taking and distributing lunch orders for the production staff, taking out the trash and cleaning the office. “The only thing I learned on this internship was to be more picky in choosing employment opportunities,” Mr. Footman, 24, said in an interview. “ ‘Black Swan’ had more than $300 million in revenues. If they paid us, it wouldn’t make a big difference to them, but it would make a huge difference to us.”

Wrong Button Sends ANA Jet Upside Down (WSJ)
All Nippon Airways Co. narrowly escaped a catastrophe earlier this month when its plane almost flipped over after a co-pilot hit the wrong button while trying to open the cockpit door for the plane’s captain, returning from the restroom.

Chris Christie: Is New Jersey Governor Too Overweight to Become President? (ABC)
Political scientists and strategists said they could not recall a truly heavy American politician finding great national success in the television age. "Our candidates tend to be tall, they tend to have great hair," said Russell Riley, a presidential scholar at the University of Virginia's Center of Public Affairs. "This doesn't seem to be a business that, at the presidential level, willingly accepts people who are demonstrably overweight.

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Opening Bell: 11.25.15

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Opening Bell: 02.21.13

Feds Split Over When To Close Cash Spigot (WSJ) Minutes released Wednesday from the Fed's January policy meeting show officials concerned that the current easy-money policies could lead to excessive risk-taking and instability in financial markets. The Fed is buying $85 billion in mortgage and U.S. Treasury securities a month to drive down long-term rates and has promised to keep short-term rates near zero until unemployment improves. Citigroup Chairman Not Pressing Bank Breakup (WSJ) Michael E. O'Neill was among a small group of directors who after the financial crisis urged the company to weigh the pros and cons of splitting up the third-largest U.S. bank, said people familiar with the deliberations. Mr. O'Neill, now chairman, has overseen a management shake-up in the past year and is backing a broad cost-cutting plan. But exploring a breakup is no longer among his top priorities. Mr. O'Neill has concluded that breaking up Citigroup doesn't make sense now, given economic and regulatory uncertainty as well as a host of financial considerations, these people said. Wells Fargo ramps up private equity despite Volcker Rule (Reuters) The fine print of the Volcker Rule is expected to be finalized as soon as this year. Major banks such as Bank of America Corp and Citigroup are already pulling back from private equity investments ahead of the rules. But Wells Fargo is taking a different path. The bank invests in buyouts and venture capital deals largely on its own, with capital only from Wells Fargo itself and some employees. By avoiding equity from outside investors, the bank is considered to be engaging in "merchant banking," an activity that is likely to be exempt under the Volcker Rule, lawyers and people familiar with the matter said. Dimon Defends His Duel Leadership Roles (NYP) JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has no intention of relinquishing his chairmanship, insiders say, despite renewed calls from a group of shareholders to split the roles at the nation’s biggest lender. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a granddaddy of public employee unions, as well as New York City and Connecticut pension funds, are pressuring the bank in the wake of its $6 billion “London Whale” trading blunder. The shareholders, which hold about $1 billion worth of bank shares, say the move would help to avoid a repeat of last year’s debacle, which led the board to slash Dimon’s pay in half. JPMorgan officials, though, don’t want to go as far as splitting the roles, saying their boss steered the bank successfully through the financial crisis and is well suited for both jobs. Regulator Weighs Ban For Corzine (WSJ) Two newly elected directors of the National Futures Association plan to push the agency to hold a hearing on the matter, having criticized the response of federal regulators some 16 months after the industry was shaken by the collapse of brokerage MF Global where the former New Jersey governor was chief executive. Shia LaBeouf Pulls Out Of Broadway's Orphans (NYP) Producers announced that LaBeouf parted ways with the show after just a week of rehearsals due to “creative differences,” even though the play’s scheduled to begin previews March 19. But last night LaBeouf, 26, posted e-mail exchanges on Twitter revealing divisions between him and bombastic Baldwin. In a message titled “Creative Differences” LaBeouf posted an e-mail to him from director Dan Sullivan, which reads, “I’m too old for disagreeable situations. You’re one hell of a great actor. Alec is who he is. You are who you are. You two are incompatible. I should have known it. This one will haunt me. You tried to warn me. You said you were a different breed. I didn’t get it.” Russia's Missing Billions Revealed (FT) Russia's central bank governor has lifted the lid on $49 billion in illegal capital flight - more than half of which, he says, is controlled "by one well-organized group of individuals" that he declined to name. Sergei Ignatiev, due to step down in June after 11 years in his post, is seldom outspoken about any issue other than interest rates. But he unburdened himself in an interview with the Moscow newspaper Vedomosti about money leaving the country through the back door, which he said equaled 2.5 percent of gross domestic product last year. "This might be payment for supplies of narcotics...illegal imports...bribes and kickbacks for bureaucrats...and avoiding taxes," he told the daily, which is part-owned by the Financial Times. New York Times Looks To Sell Boston Globe (CNBC) This follows the Times Company's sale of other regional papers as well as the About.com group, as it focuses in on its core asset — the New York Times brand. And with that focus, the publisher is honing in on what's really been working for the company — the New York Times subscription model. The company has retained Evercore Partners to advise on and manage the sale, but won't say who it's already talked to, or how much it thinks the assets are worth. Citi analyst Leo Kulp, who calls this a "positive move," estimates that the segment could fetch about $200 million. The segment generated $395 million in 2012 revenue, which Kulp says implies about $67 million in EBITDA in 2012. He applies a three times multiple — "on the high end of comparable large metro newspaper sales" — to give the paper a $200 million price tag. Herbalife Prez Goes On Offensive (NYP) President Des Walsh, in a conference call, said that “despite what we believe to be unprecedented, unfair and untrue attacks on this company, our business continues to do well.” Deputies: Couple started fighting over man scratching himself (WWSB) According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Shalamar Petrarca complained to her boyfriend, 30-year-old Ronald Howard, that it was rude and disgusting to be “scratching his testicles” while she was about to eat dinner. She told deputies that Howard began yelling at her, pushed her into the kitchen, causing her to get a scratch on her ankle, then threw her out of the house. Howard told deputies that she punched him in the eye for “scratching his balls”, and the he pushed her through the door in self-defense. Deputies say Howard had no visible injuries, but Petrarca did have a scratch on her ankle.

Opening Bell: 5.6.15

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