Opening/Holiday Bell: 10.10.11

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Banks Brace For Fallout On Earnings (NYT)
Bank stocks are at lows not seen since the wake of the financial crisis, and shares of Bank of America, the nation’s biggest bank, are down more than 50 percent since the start of the year, while Citigroup is down more than 40 percent. David H. Ellison, a mutual fund manager for FBR who invests in financial companies, likens owning bank stocks these days to holding airline stocks in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. “Nobody wants to own the group,” he said. “Everybody thinks it is not the place to be.” And in a kind of unusual convergence, protesters and bank analysts alike have had it with bank management...“There is a huge skepticism, that goes way beyond normal healthy doubt, about how reliable their numbers and guidance are,” said Chris Kotowski, an analyst with Oppenheimer. “People who were bullish are frustrated and beaten down.” Michael Mayo, a longtime financial services analyst, has been traveling around the world over the last year, calling attention to what he calls his “Japan lite” thesis — the view that the United States and its banks are in for a prolonged period of very slow growth, not unlike Japan’s so-called lost decade in the 1990s.

No Recession for U.S. as Forecasts Improve (Bloomberg)
A string of stronger-than-projected statistics -- capped by the news on Oct. 7 of a 103,000 rise in payrolls last month -- has prompted economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Macroeconomic Advisers LLC to raise their growth forecasts for third quarter growth to 2.5 percent from about 2 percent. That’s nearly double the second quarter’s 1.3 percent rate and would be the fastest growth in a year. “The U.S. economy doesn’t look like it’s double-dipping at all,” said Allen Sinai, president of Decision Economics Inc. in New York. “But it is a crummy recovery.”

Trichet Reminds US Euro Built To Last (Bloomberg)
FYI: “The overall picture when you look at the euro area as a whole is very, very different from the perception,” Trichet said in his Washington speech to a conference organized by the Bretton Woods Committee.

Paulson Funds Hit Hard By Gold Selloff (WSJ)
Mr. Paulson saw his fund dedicated to gold investments lose 16.4% in September, according to investors. That is worse than the 11% fall for gold prices. The Paulson gold fund now sports a gain of just over 1% in 2011, through September, compared with a 16% year-to-date gain in gold—a difference likely attributable to the fund's investment in gold-mining companies, whose shares haven't kept pace with gold's rise. Mr. Paulson's Recovery fund, which wagers on investments deemed likely to do well as the U.S. economy improves, lost more than 14% in September and is down 31% in 2011, investors familiar with the figures say. Paulson also posted losses last month in the merger-focused fund, they say. The firm's Paulson Advantage fund dropped 12.1%, leaving it down more than 32% this year. The Paulson Advantage Plus, which applies a layer of borrowed money to the firm's investments, tumbled 19.4% last month. That fund is down nearly 47% on the year, according to investors.

Hedge Fund Insider Trading Sentence for Raj Rajaratnam May Be Longest Ever (Bloomberg)
Prosecutors asked Holwell to give him a prison sentence of 19 1/2 to 24 1/2 years, which they said is within the guidelines...“Rajaratnam is a uniquely situated individual compared with all the others,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky said at an Oct. 4 hearing. “He is an individual at the top of a pyramid, the head of a hedge fund who’s orchestrating and controlling interlocking insider-trading schemes.”

Police To Protest Supporters: Honk If You'd Like A Ticket (KOMO)
Police experimented with a new tactic Friday night as they responded to a weeklong Occupy Seattle demonstration at Westlake Park - ticketing drivers who honked in support of protesters. Starting at 11 p.m. Friday, police started pulling over and ticketing drivers who honked as they drove past protesters.

Fan Arrested After Tossing Hot Dog At Woods (USAT)
The most exciting occurrence on his final holes came at the par-3 seventh, when the spectator walked under the gallery ropes, ran toward the green yelling "Tiger, Tiger," and threw a hot dog, which, while the bun fell to his feet, flew across Woods' putting line and onto playing partner Arjun Atwal's putting line. The fan, who got within 40 feet of Woods, was handcuffed and arrested for disturbing the peace, according to police. His name was not released, but police said he was 31. Woods was lining up his putt at the time and missed.

Two Americans Win Economics Nobel (WSJ)
Americans Thomas Sargent and Christopher Sims won the Nobel economics prize on Monday "for their empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. The prize committee said the winners have developed methods for answering questions such as how economic growth and inflation are affected by a temporary increase in the interest rate or a tax cut. Messrs. Sargent and Sims—both 68 years old—carried out their research independently in the 1970s and '80s.

Hedge Funds Hurting (II)
Lee Ainslie’s Maverick fund lost nearly 8 percent in September alone, and is down nearly 17 percent for the year through September 30. “I don’t understand this,” says a hedge fund investor who does not have money with Maverick but has looked at it in the past. “Ainslie runs a tight ship. He has a lot of portfolio managers.” Ainslie is one among dozens of Tiger Cubs, former employees of Tiger Management founder Julian Robertson. Paul Ruddock’s Lansdowne Capital is also struggling. Through September 30 his $8 billion Lansdowne UK Equity fund is down more than 15 percent while Lansdowne Global Financials Fund is off 19.13 percent. Ruddock co-founded London-based Lansdowne Partners in 1998. He worked at Goldman Sachs & Co. from 1980 to 1984 and at Schroder & Co. from 1984 to 1998. Leon Cooperman’s Omega Fund also took a big beating in September, dropping 7.58 percent for the month alone and 12.36 percent for the year. Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square dropped 5.70 percent in September and is off nearly 16 percent for the year.

Belgium to Buy Dexia’s Consumer Unit for $5.4B (Bloomberg)
The Belgian federal government will pay 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) for the division and guarantee 60 percent of a so-called bad bank to be set up for Dexia’s troubled assets.

For Jobs' Biological Father, The Reunion That Never Came (WSJ)
Mr. Jandali, 80 years old and general manager of the Boomtown casino in the barren hills outside Reno, Nev., presides over a staff of around 450 casino workers and is praised by his colleagues for his quiet leadership style and a marketing savvy. Walking the floor on Friday, he was stopped by an employee who thanked him for reinstalling $5 dollar slot machines. Mr. Jandali shook his hand, then sat down at the casino's Chinese noodle joint to eat the salmon special, as he does many days. "I can't take credit for my children's success," said Mr. Jandali, who is also the father of the celebrated novelist Mona Simpson. Mr. Jobs was put up for adoption as a baby. Mr. Jandali said he had almost no contact with him and also has a strained relationship with Ms. Simpson.

ECB: Europe Dealing With Greatest Crisis Since WWII (Reuters)
European Central Bank council member Erkki Liikanen on Monday stressed the need for bank recapitalization to counter debt crisis which he considered as Europe's greatest since World War II.

City Hires Mimes to Give Bad Drivers the Silent Treatment (Fox)
A part of Venezuela's capital is using the services of about 120 mimes who are giving bad drivers the silent treatment in an effort to combat traffic woes. Think human traffic signals that have the ability to scorn drivers who dare to break the rules. The mimes have been sent into the streets to do what police alone have not: tame the lawless traffic. Dressed in clown-like outfits and white gloves took to the streets of the Sucre district this past week, the mimes wag their fingers at traffic violators and at pedestrians who streaked across busy avenues rather than waiting at crosswalks.

Sex, drugs and hiding from the law at Wall Street protests (NYP)
Lured by cheap drugs and free food, creepy thugs have infiltrated the crowd of protesters camped out in Zuccotti Park for Occupy Wall Street, The Post has learned. “I got warrants. I’m running from the law,” boasted Dave, 24, a scrawny, unshaven miscreant in filthy clothes from Stamford, Conn. “I’m not even supposed to be here, but it’s as good a spot as any to hide.” Wanted for burglary, the drug-addled fugitive said some of his hard-partying pals clued him in that the protest was a good place to be fed, get wasted and crash. But the creeps can’t give a bad name to the group’s overall anti-greed message, protesters said. A coalition of religious leaders and their followers yesterday marched from Washington Square Park to the encampment with a makeshift golden calf in the shape of the Wall Street bull, leading protesters in such spirituals as “We Shall Overcome” and “Down by the Riverside.” The crowd chanted, “We are the 99 percent!” -- referring to the millions of Americans not among the top 1 percent of the country’s earners -- along with priests, rabbis and imams. “You are fulfilling the words of the prophet Isaiah. You have thrown off the yoke. Occupy, occupy, occupy!” shouted Warren Goldstein, chair of the history department at the University of Hartford in Connecticut...Some couples have taken advantage of the free condoms distributed by organizers to do the nasty in full view of other protesters. “It kinda makes me think of what Woodstock must have been like,” said one protester, Sarah, 19 from the Upper West Side. “I haven’t hooked up with any guys ... but one of my friends did have sex in a tarp with a guy last night.”

We are off** today for the holiday-- talk amongst yourselves and we'll see you tomorrow!

**If Lloyd makes an appearance in Zucotti Park or similarly breaking news occurs, we trust you'll let us know.

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