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Opening Bell: 11.10.11

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Papademos Named Greek Leader (WSJ)
Greek President Karolos Papoulias said Thursday he has instructed Mr. Papademos to form a government after chairing a meeting of almost five hours with outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou, the leader of New Democracy Antonis Samaras and Georgios Karatzaferis, leader of the smaller nationalist party.

New Greek Premier Papademos Must Save Euro Membership (Bloomberg)
Papademos, who has never held elected office, helped foster economic growth rates that surpassed Germany’s and France’s in his eight years at Greece’s central bank before moving to the ECB in 2002. Most recently a visiting professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and an adviser to departing Prime Minister George Papandreou, Papademos takes over a country weeks from being unable to meet its debt obligations. “He’s a leader who can temporarily see Greece through troubled times but keep in mind that he has no political base,” Spyros Economides, a senior lecturer at the London School of Economics, said in a phone interview.

Italy Hastens Last-Ditch Budget Cuts (WSJ)
After yields on Italian government bonds soared above 7% on Wednesday, President Giorgio Napolitano unexpectedly announced that he had named Mr. Monti, a former European commissioner, as senator for life. By bestowing an honor reserved for just a handful of other Italians in the upper house of Parliament, Mr. Napolitano made it easier for Mr. Monti to take up a government post, even though he isn't an elected official. Earlier in the day, the speakers of both Italy's houses of Parliament inserted a package of debt-cutting and economic-growth measures demanded by the European Union into the legislative calendar so they can be voted on by the weekend.

Jobless Claims Fall (Reuters)
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits declined for the second straight week, to the lowest level since the first week of April, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 390,000 in the week ended Nov. 5, slightly below the 400,000 that analysts polled by Reuters had expected. The government revised its estimate for claims during the prior week to 400,000 from 397,000.

Perry ‘Stepped In It’ in Energy Department Gaffe (Bloomberg)
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry acknowledged today that he had “stepped in it” when he was unable to come up with the name of the third government agency he would eliminate -- the Energy Department -- if he wins the White House. The Texas governor also said on NBC’s “Today” program that he would “continue on” in his quest for the Republican nomination. He appeared on all three network morning shows today. Asked last night to identify the three federal agencies he would close to help cut government spending -- specifics Perry talks about on the campaign trail -- Perry could name just two. “The third agency of government I would do away with?” Perry responded. “Education. Commerce. And let’s see. I can’t. The third one I can’t. Sorry. Oops.” “Like most Americans, there’s so many agencies of government out there we’d like to forget,” Perry said today. “The Department of Energy was one of those.”

Clients who fled MF Global face clawback risk (Reuters)
Former MF Global customers like Koch Industries, who pulled billions of dollars out of the stricken broker's accounts weeks or months before its collapse, have counted their blessings in recent days. But their relief may prove premature depending on the outcome of a separate, four-year-old bankruptcy case involving Sentinel Management Group Inc. The lawyer overseeing that case has gone to court to try to force some of Sentinel's former clients to take a share of the losses. Thousands of MF Global's commodity clients have been clamoring over more than $1 billion in cash and collateral that is still frozen. Yet many customers pulled out a large sum of cash before the company declared bankruptcy on October 31, regulatory data and exchange estimates show.

Alabama County Files Largest US Municipal Bankruptcy (AP)
Alabama's most populous county chose bankruptcy as a path to wrest control of its beleaguered sewer system from a court-appointed receiver, bolster its pleas for legislative action to prop up a massive revenue shortfall, and wipe away as much of its whopping $4.15 billion in debt as possible.

Bank Quandary: Valuing the Assets (WSJ)
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley which became bank-holding companies to help them survive the financial crisis, are considering an accounting change that would make them look even more like a traditional bank. The two firms are discussing whether to reduce their use of mark-to-market accounting, in which companies immediately take profits or losses as asset values fluctuate, according to people familiar with the situation. Such swings routinely affect the bottom line at Goldman and Morgan Stanley, including in the third quarter.

Goldman’s oops may be $15.8B (NYP)
Yesterday, Goldman Sachs announced that costs of its mortgage-related securities minted during the credit crisis could saddle it with a whopping $15.8 billion tab. That’s more than a 3,150 percent increase from the $485 million estimate Goldman offered up just about three months ago.

Penn State Students Flip Over A TV News Van In Solidarity With Incompetent, Morally Complicit Old Relic (Deadspin)
Apparently not everyone's ready for to see him go.