Opening Bell: 11.09.11

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Italy's Focus Shifts To Forming New Government (Bloomberg)
Berlusconi said today that he favored early elections and that Angelino Alfano, head of his People of Liberty party, might be the candidate. Berlusconi last night said he’d step down as soon as parliament passed cost-cutting steps pledged to European Union allies in a bid to convince investors Italy can curb record borrowing costs. Parliament is due to vote on the measures in the coming weeks.

Exit From Italian Debt Spurs Fears (WSJ)
Italy has long relied on the fact that its debt level, although high at 120% of gross domestic product, isn't rising much, thanks to Rome's relatively small budget deficit. But the country still needs to borrow hundreds of billions of euros a year to repay its debts falling due. Next year, Italy must borrow enough money to repay more than €300 billion in maturing debts and cover a targeted budget deficit of up to €25 billion. If investors aren't willing to lend Italy such sums, Europe will have to prop up the country with all the money it can muster—with help from the IMF—or risk a global financial crash.

Goldman Sachs Traders Lost Money on 21 Days in Third Quarter (Bloomberg)
Goldman, which relied on trading for 62 percent of revenue so far this year, recorded losses from that business on 21 days in the third quarter, the most since the fourth quarter of 2008. The firm’s traders lost more than $100 million on one of the days, according to the New York-based company’s quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They produced more than $100 million on nine days out of 64 total days in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, the filing showed.

HSBC Hurt By Bad Loans (WSJ)
HSBC on Wednesday said revenue slipped in the third quarter as investment-banking clients sat on the sidelines, its Hong Kong business weakened and bad loans rose in the U.S. Adjusted pretax profit, which strips out a series of one-time factors and is closely watched by analysts, dropped 36% to $2.96 billion, from $4.60 billion. After factoring in a hefty, $4.11 billion accounting gain on the value of HSBC's own debt, net profit in the three months to Sept. 30 was $5.22 billion, up 66% from $3.15 billion in the third quarter of 2010 and better than the second quarter's $5.06 billion.

Yelp Eyes $2 Billion IPO (WSJ)
Like Groupon, which is currently valued at $15.9 billion, Yelp also rebuffed an earlier offer from Google, in Yelp's case for approximately $500 million about two years ago, people familiar with the matter said. In January 2010, Yelp received a $25 million investment from private-equity firm Elevation Partners, which also bought shares from employees and earlier investors for a total investment of $100 million, people familiar with the matter said. That investment valued the company at about $500 million, the people said.

MF Global Clients May Have To Share Cash (Bloomberg)
“Distribution of the assets will be pro rata, if there’s insufficient there to fulfill all obligations,” said Stephen Harbeck, president of the Securities Investor Protection Corp., or SIPC. About $593 million in commodity customer funds are unaccounted for, according to a person with knowledge of regulatory probes into the failure of the New York-based firm.

Jim Rogers: Gold Will Hit $2,400 Bubble (CNBC)
"It will easily go to $2,000 but it will reach $2,400 over the course of the bull run, which has years to run," said Rogers, the CEO and chairman of Rogers Holdings. "It will end in a bubble when this is over. The way bull markets work is they go up and up and then by the end they turn into a bubble and that will happen to gold. He said, however, that such a bubble is still years from happening. "That could be five years, 18 years or six years," he said. "I hope I am smart enough to sell but when that happens it will probably double." He said that currently he would buy silver instead of gold because it's cheaper on a historic basis. "I own both, I'm not selling either but if I had to buy one today I would buy silver," he said.

JPM Analyst: UBS, Credit Suisse Should Pool Securities Units (Reuters)
UBS and Credit Suisse should focus solely on private banking and pool their investment banks if plans for curbing the latter's risk-taking activities fail to appease shareholders, JPMorgan analyst Kian Abouhossein said. "If returns are still not adequate to shareholders, this is an alternative," Abouhossein said, commenting on a research note published on Tuesday.

Cain says no way he harassed No. 4 (NYP)
Republican presidential contender Herman Cain denied that he even knew Sharon Bialek, a former underling he allegedly groped after she came to him for job advice -- and flatly dismissed every other accusation of sexual harassment lobbed against him, too. “I have never acted inappropriately with anyone, period,’’ Cain said. “The charges and accusations I absolutely reject. They simply didn’t happen. They simply did not happen.’’

IMF Chief Warns World Economy Risks 'Lost Decade' (Reuters)
Christine Lagarde told a financial forum in Beijing that European plans to bolster a rescue package for Greece were a "step in the right direction", but that the outlook for the world economy remained dangerous and uncertain. "There are clearly clouds on the horizon," Lagarde said. "Clouds on the horizon particularly in the advanced economies and particularly so in the European Union and the United States."

IEA: Oil Could Hit $150 a Barrel in Near Term (CNBC)
The price of oil could rise to as much as $150 per barrel in the near term if investment in the oil-producing countries of North Africa and the Middle East is lower than required to meet growth in demand from emerging economies, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

Hedge Fund Manager Buys 4.9% Stake in MGIC (Deal Journal)
J. Kyle Bass, portfolio manager at Dallas-based Hayman Capital Management LP, bought the 4.9% stake in MGIC Investment Corp, according to federal filings. He said on Monday the bet reflected his view that the housing market’s losses had largely been absorbed. “You can see that the pig has moved through the python in terms of U.S. housing losses,” he said.

Occupy Guys On March To DC (NYP)
A group of "Occupy Wall Street" protesters will embark Wednesday on a two-week march from New York to Washington, D.C. The "Occupy The Highway" protesters are set to leave from New York's Zuccotti Park at noon and march on foot to the capital, covering an average 20 miles a day for the next two weeks. They aim to reach Washington, D.C., by Nov. 23 -- when a congressional committee will be deciding whether or not to uphold Bush-era tax cuts. "We will be in D.C. by Nov. 23 for the Congressional Super Committee meeting," the protesters wrote on the "Occupy Wall Street" website. "This committee has the power to keep the Bush tax cuts (that only benefit the top one percent) or let them expire. We want to be there to fight for the 99 percent!"

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Opening Bell: 05.02.12

UBS Earnings Helped By Wealth-Management Focus, Risk-Cutting (WSJ) UBS's first-quarter earnings showed that the Swiss bank's strategy of shifting its focus to managing assets for wealthy clients and reducing risk is starting to pay off, demonstrating that it is putting behind it a troubled past marked by huge investment bank losses during the financial crisis, a bruising battle with U.S. tax authorities and a trading scandal last year. Worries about the global economy are likely to prevent clients from investing much in the second quarter, but "we believe our wealth-management businesses as a whole will continue to attract net new money, as our clients recognize our efforts and continue to entrust us with their assets... We have the utmost confidence in our firm's future," UBS said in a statement. The bank's wealth-management units recorded a rise in pretax profit during the quarter and attracted CHF10.9 billion ($12.1 billion) in new assets from clients. UBS also managed to shed more risky assets during the quarter, raised new capital and is on track to meet its target of saving CHF2 billion in costs annually...Reported results for the bank as a whole were less pleasing because an accounting loss on UBS's own debt led to a 54% drop in net profit. Excluding this charge, which was higher than forecast, earnings beat analysts' estimates and contributed to the rise in UBS's shares. The Zurich-based bank said net profit fell to 827 million Swiss francs in the quarter ended March 31 from CHF1.81 billion a year earlier. Revenue fell 22% to CHF6.53 billion from CHF8.34 billion, while operating expenses declined 15% to CHF5.22 billion. Wealthy Americans Queue To Give Up Their Passports (Bloomberg) Rich Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship rose sevenfold since UBS AG (UBSN) whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld triggered a crackdown on tax evasion four years ago. About 1,780 expatriates gave up their nationality at U.S. embassies last year, up from 235 in 2008, according to Andy Sundberg, secretary of Geneva’s Overseas American Academy, citing figures from the government’s Federal Register. The embassy in Bern, the Swiss capital, redeployed staff to clear a backlog as Americans queued to relinquish their passports. The Big Doubt Over Facebook's IPO (WSJ) "The question with Facebook and many of the social media sites is, 'What are we getting for our dollars?'" said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing at Kia Motors Corp.'s North American division. The automaker has advertised on Facebook since 2009 and plans to increase its ad spending on the site. While building brand awareness on a site with 900 million users is valuable, Mr. Sprague said he's unclear if "a consumer sees my ad, and does that ultimately lead to a new vehicle sale?" The concerns from Kia and other advertisers underscore the difficulties of measuring results of nascent-forms of social-media advertising. Madness In Spain Lingers As Ireland Chases Recovery (Bloomberg) “Ireland faced up to its problems faster than others and we expect growth there rather soon,” said Cinzia Alcidi, an analyst at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. “In Spain, there was kind of a denial of the scale of the problem and it may be faced with many years of significant challenges before full recovery takes place.” Euro-Zone Economic Woes Deepen (WSJ) The euro-zone economy contracted by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of last year, and most recent data suggest it did so again in the first quarter of this year. Many economists regard two quarters of contraction as indicating an economy is in recession. Carlyle's big-name IPO may not generate big gains (NYP) Like debt asset manager Oaktree Capital Group, which declined on its first day of trading earlier this month, Carlyle warns that its first priority is to the interests of its fund investors, and it could make decisions that would reduce revenue in the short-term, such as limiting the assets under management that it oversees or reducing management fees. Did May Day Save Occupy Wall Street? (TDB) For some protesters, the lack of one or two key demands and a stronger organizational structure made the day less effective than it could have been. “I think they have to state their demands along with their actions,” said Anton Alen, a student at Hunter College, adding that he thinks Occupy Wall Street has been clear on many things it would like to see changed. Alen said that the idea of trying to occupy another space Tuesday night was in the right spirit but needed to be thought out better. “I don’t think it can be so spontaneous and still be effective,” Alen said. Sofia Gallisa of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, disagreed. “This isn’t about specific demands,” she said. “It’s never been about specific demands.” Occupy Wall Street has changed the kind of discussions Americans are having about inequality, she said, particularly around issues of class. Peter Schiff: US Treasurys Are ‘Junk,’ Dollar Headed for Collapse (CNBC) “As far as I am concerned, U.S. Treasurys are junk bonds,” Schiff said on CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box.” “And the only reason that the U.S. government can pay the interest on the debt, and I say ‘pay’ in quotes because we never pay our bills. We borrow the money so we pretend to pay, but the only reason we can do it is because the Fed has got interest rates so artificially low.” Greenspan Says U.S. Stocks ‘Very Cheap,’ Likely to Rise (Bloomberg) “There is no place for earnings to grow except into stock prices,” Greenspan said yesterday. Treasury: No Decision On Floating-Rate Notes (WSJ) "Treasury is in the process of analyzing the feedback, and we continue to study the benefits and optimal terms of a Treasury [floating rate note]," Under Secretary for Domestic Finance Mary Miller said in a statement. Mr. Met is rated number 1 in Major League Baseball (NYDN) The longtime Flushing favorite was chosen as the nation’s No. 1 sports mascot based on his likeability, familiarity and several other factors. Even better, in a reversal of recent on-field fortunes, Mr. Met landed the top spot over NL East rival the Phillie Phanatic.

Opening Bell: 06.29.12

JPMorgan Cushions Drew's Retirement With $21.5 Million (Bloomberg) JPMorgan's decision to let Chief Investment Officer Ina Drew retire four days after the bank disclosed a $2 billion loss in her division allowed her to walk away with about $21.5 million in stock and options. Drew, who resigned May 14, can keep $17.1 million in unvested restricted shares and about $4.4 million in options that she otherwise would have been required to forfeit if the New York-based bank had terminated her employment “with cause,” according to regulatory filings and estimates from consulting firm Meridian Compensation Partners LLC. A 30-year JPMorgan veteran, Drew also had accumulated 661,000 unrestricted shares of common stock worth about $23.7 million based on the May 14 closing price, $9.7 million in deferred compensation and $2.6 million in pension pay as of Dec. 31, according to company filings. Altogether, Drew’s stock, pension and deferred pay come to about $57.5 million. JPMorgan Models In Spotlight (WSJ) The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the bank's primary regulator, has requested reviews of models that measure the possible effects of everything from trading losses to interest-rate moves, the people said. A change in one of these models contributed to losses in the bank's Chief Investment Office, a once-obscure unit that manages $370 billion in excess cash. The change effectively increased the amount of risk traders were allowed to take. Jim Rogers: Be Afraid (CNBC) Even as markets cheered the agreement by European leaders to allow the direct use of the bloc’s bailout funds to recapitalize struggling banks, investor Jim Rogers told CNBC the move does nothing to help solve the region’s biggest problem...Rogers argues that the deal does not improve the solvency of indebted nations such as Spain. Spain's central government budget deficit has soared to 3.41 percent of GDP in the first five months of 2012, above the EU limit of 3 percent. He adds that the governments need to stop coming to the rescue of failing banks, even if it results in “financial Armageddon.” SEC May Order Nasdaq Upgrade (WSJ) As part of the deepening inquiry, regulators are weighing demanding that Nasdaq agree to revamp its processes for developing, changing, testing and implementing the computer code used in initial public offerings and other exchange functions, according to people familiar with the investigation. FBI arrests Bernie Madoff's brother Peter ahead of expected guilty plea (AP) Given Peter Madoff's "level of financial experience and sophistication," the trustee alleged that he either knew or should have known that he reaped gains "derived from purported transactionsgrounded in fraud and deception." The trustee also took aim at his daughter Shana, who once worked as an in-house lawyer at the firm and has denied involvement in the scheme. "Had Peter, as the Chief Compliance Officer, or Shana, as Compliance Counsel, done their jobs properly, the fraud might have been revealed years earlier," the complaint said. "Either they failed completely to carry out their required supervisory/compliance roles, or they knew about the fraud but covered it up." Euro Zone Sees Single Bank Supervisor (WSJ) European leaders at a two-day summit in Brussels said they would speed up plans to create a single supervisor to oversee the euro zone's banks, and agreed on measures aimed at reducing soaring borrowing costs for Spain and Italy. Credit Suisse Says Second Quarter Will Be Profitable Overall (Reuters) "Further to its statement of last Friday and in response to media reports about its second quarter financial performance, Credit Suisse informs that it expects based on quarter-to-date information to be profitable at the group level and in all its divisions," the Swiss bank said in a brief statement on Friday, the last day of the second quarter. Bankers Fleeing Europe Crisis Head To Singapore (CNBC) “Singapore seems like a very green field compared to Paris. It looks like what Europe was 20 years ago, in the sense it’s got a lot of opportunities in terms of new prospects for the markets.” Louisiana's Rogue Dolphin Entertains ... and Bites (Newser) Residents of an upscale New Orleans suburb have been warned to stay away from their friendly neighborhood dolphin. The young bottlenose dolphin, who arrived in a canal off the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain after Hurricane Katrina, is a big hit with boaters and swimmers, but has bitten at least three people who got too close to him. Wildlife officials have met with residents to tell them how to co-exist with the dolphin—and to remind them that feeding or harassing wild dolphins is banned by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Signs have been put up urging people to stay at least 50 feet away from the dolphin. "He’s like a friendly neighborhood dog, but the dog will bite," the manager of the local homeowner's association explains to King5. "He's a wild animal and you have to treat him like he's a wild animal and not jump on him, not go swimming with him. He's not Disney World." Officials say that relocating the dolphin could kill him—and if he survived, he would probably return to the canal he calls home. One resident has another solution. "Maybe they should find him a girlfriend," he says.

Opening Bell: 2.8.16

Rough times for emerging markets; LinkedIn's dramatic fall; Citigroup bars DraftKings, FanDuel transactions in NY; Man Dressed In Clown Costume Arrested For Drunk Driving; and more.

Opening Bell: 07.13.12

J.P. Morgan Second-Quarter Profit Fell 8.7% (WSJ) JPMorgan's second-quarter earnings fell 8.7% from a year ago, on a double-digit decline in revenue and a $4.4 billion trading loss at its Chief Investment Office. The U.S.'s largest bank by assets also said it would restate its first-quarter results to reduce profits and revenue, amid questions about how traders at the unit marked their positions. Including the restatement, total losses on the Chief Investment Office trading hit $5.1 billion in the first half of 2012. Finance chief Doug Braunstein on Friday put the trading loss through Thursday at $5.8 billion. The bank said the restatement of first-quarter results reflects "recently discovered information that raises questions about the integrity of the trader marks and suggests that certain individuals may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of the losses in the portfolio during the first quarter." Overall, the bank posted a $4.96 billion second-quarter profit, worth $1.21 a share. That is down from $5.43 billion, or $1.29 a share, a year ago. Revenue fell 17% from a year earlier to $22.18 billion. Dimon Says Ina Drew Offered To Return 2 Years Of Compensation (Bloomberg) “She has acted with integrity and tried to do what was right for the company at all times, even though she was part of this mistake,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said today at a meeting with analysts. “In that spirit, Ina came forward and offered to give up a very significant amount of her past compensation, which is equivalent to the maximum clawback amount.” Dimon said that when Drew decided to retire he received letters from former chairmen in her support, including one who said “she saved the company.” JPMorgan Trader 'London Whale' Leaves: Source (Reuters) Goodnight, sweet prince: Bruno Iksil, the JPMorgan Chase trader known as the "London Whale" has left the bank in the wake of a trading scandal, a person familiar with the situation said. Wells Fargo Profit Up 17% (WSJ) The bank reported a profit of $4.62 billion, up from a year-earlier profit of $3.95 billion. Per-share earnings, reflecting the payment of preferred dividends, rose to 82 cents from 70 cents a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected 81 cents. Revenue increased 4.4% to $21.29 billion. Analysts were looking for $21.36 billion. Dogs From NY, Virginia Wed at Charity Extravaganza (AP) Two dogs got married Thursday night at an extravaganza to benefit the Humane Society of New York. Bride Baby Hope Diamond, a white Coton de Tulear with black-gray markings, was led down the aisle, resplendent in her canine couture gown. Her poodle groom, a dapper dude named Chilly Pasternak from Richmond, Va., didn't seem too excited about the whole affair but, nevertheless, went along with the ceremony. After they got hitched, the cuddly couple were presented with a Guinness World Record in the category of most expensive pet wedding at $158,187.26. The luxury goods and services that went into the wedding were all donated. Focus Falls On BOE Libor Claims (WSJ) In one email from June 2008, Tim Geithner, then head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and now the U.S. Treasury Secretary, copied Mr. Tucker on a message to Bank of England Governor Mervyn King in which he made several suggestions "to improve the integrity and transparency" of the Libor-setting process, "…including procedures designed to prevent accidental or deliberate misreporting." The memo followed a series of news reports in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere that questioned whether officials at some banks were gaming Libor. One of Mr. Geithner's suggestions was titled "Eliminate incentive to misreport." Banks’ Libor Costs May Hit $22 Billion (FT) Ballpark. Americans Living Larger As New-Home Sizes Defy Economy (Bloomberg) arger, as in larger homes: two-story foyers, twin front staircases, children’s wings, dedicated man caves, coffee bars, four-car garages, and bedroom closets large enough for a fifth vehicle. The percentage of new single-family homes greater than 3,000 square feet has grown by one-third in the last decade, according to data released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase has occurred even while 4.3 million homes have been foreclosed upon since January 2007, a result of the housing- bubble collapse and economic meltdown. Slightly more than 1 in 4 new homes built last year were larger than 3,000 square feet, the highest percentage since 2007. Buffett Says Euro Destined For Failure Without Rule Changes (Bloomberg) “Thesystem that they put in place had a fundamental fatal flaw,” Buffett said today on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop With Betty Liu” in an interview from the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. “It can’t survive with the present rules. That’s what they’re learning. The question is, can 17 countries get together in a way to essentially re-do something.” ‘Occupy’ catches a few rays in the Sun (NYP) The Occupy Wall Street movement yesterday crashed Allen & Co.’s exclusive media retreat, where the nation’s wealthiest business titans rub elbows every summer. Protesters railing against the growing gap between the rich and everyone else gathered at the Sun Valley Resort near the duck pond, where Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Mayor Mike Bloomberg were enjoying a leisurely lunch. A group of seven people, dressed in “Greed Kills” T-shirts laid on the ground and refused to move. They quickly unfurled a yellow banner that read: “White Collar Crime Scene.” Arnold Schwarzenegger Confirms He’s Doing ‘Twins’ Sequel (Deadline) The former California governor said during Lionsgate‘s panel for the action pic The Expendables 2 today at Comic-Con that he will make a sequel to the 1988 movie Twins in which he co-starred with Danny DeVito. He is reteaming with that movie’s original director Ivan Reitman too, Schwarzenegger said, the project is in development and they are looking for a writer.