Opening Bell: 11.14.11

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Buffett Buys Into IBM (WSJ)
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. took a $10.7 billion stake in International Business Machines Corp. this year, a major shift for the billionaire investor, who has famously avoided technology stocks. Mr. Buffett said in an interview Monday on CNBC television that Berkshire has purchased 64 million shares, or 5.4% of the outstanding stock, beginning in March and building the stake throughout the year. Mr. Buffett said executives at IBM were unaware of the purchases, and that he'd never spoken to the company's chif executive officer, Sam Palmisano. "They've done an incredible job" in laying out a road map for the future, Mr. Buffett said in the interview.

Merkel: Europe could be in worst hour since WWII (Reuters)
"Europe is in one of its toughest, perhaps the toughest hour since World War Two," Merkel told her conservative party in Leipzig, saying she feared Europe would fail if the euro failed and vowing to do anything to stop this from happening. But in a one-hour address to the Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel offered no new ideas for resolving the crisis that has forced bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, and has raised fears about the survival of the 17-state currency zone.

I'll Be Back, Silvio Berlusconi Warns Europe (The Australian)
Berlusconi has warned that he is not yet finished as a force in Italian politics, insisting that the "technocratic" government of new Prime Minister Mario Monti would be at the mercy of Berlusconi's supporters in parliament. Stung by the venom and rejoicing on the streets of Rome that greeted his resignation at the weekend, the 75-year-old billionaire told a hard-right group of his supporters that "I hope to resume with you the path of government".

Obama: ‘Enough’s Enough’ on Undervalued Yuan (Bloomberg)
President Barack Obama kept up his pressure on China's foreign-exhange policy and trade practices, saying “enough’s enough” on what the U.S. views as a too-slow appreciation of the yuan. While there's been a “slight improvement,” China’s exporters “like the system the way it is” and are resistant to any moves to loosen the reins on the yuan, Obama said. “Changes are difficult for them politically, I get it,” Obama said at a news conference concluding a summit with Asia- Pacific leaders in Hawaii yesterday. “But the United States and other countries, I think understandably, feel that enough’s enough.”

MF Global clients cry foul over JPMorgan tactics in bankruptcy recovery (NYP)
Smaller customers of MF Global believe bank giant JPMorgan Chase, run by CEO Jamie Dimon, is angling to cut ahead of them in MF’s long line of creditors. Some MF clients are planning to file a motion in Manhattan bankruptcy court today, led by James Koutoulas, chief executive of a Chicago commodities trading firm, in a bid to boost their chances of recovery from the eighth-largest bankruptcy in US history. At issue is a lien and other protections given to JPMorgan, MF’s largest lender, in exchange for an $8 million loan the bank gave to MF on its first day of bankruptcy...In an interview, Koutoulas called the loan “a farce” and “a cheap ploy for them to jump the line.”

Corzine Aide In Spotlight (WSJ)
Even before Jon S. Corzine had lured Bradley Abelow in September 2010 to serve as his top deputy at MF Global Holdings Ltd., the firm's chief executive was already saving key decisions for his trusted aide. "Jon would even say, 'Wait until Brad gets here,' " said Peter Forlenza, who served as MF Global's global head of equities until last week. "It was almost like there was a messiah coming, and he was going to clean everything up."...With Mr. Corzine's Nov. 4 resignation, the spotlight has shifted to Mr. Abelow, and not just because he is the senior-most executive left at the firm. Mr. Abelow, as MF Global's operating chief, had direct oversight of the firm's risk management, technology systems, human resources and client services divisions. Some of these operations are now drawing scrutiny for failing to rein in the trading risks that helped tip the firm into bankruptcy and for allegedly misplacing customer funds. Several people who have spoken to Mr. Abelow recently said he is frustrated with MF Global's bankruptcy and angry at the former boss who brought him to the firm. He has volunteered to slash his annual salary to $60,000, down from the $1.5 million he was slated to earn before the bankruptcy, a person said. "Brad was the voice of reason," Mr. Forlenza said. "The frustration was we couldn't get things done quicker."

Police Will Clear Oakland Occupy Camp (AP)
"Oakland is not afraid. We're not afraid of our tents being taken away, of the movement being stymied," said Shon Kae, who is part of the group's media team.

Deficit Deal Might Delay Tax Overhaul (WSJ)
"There could be a two-step process that would hopefully give us pro-growth tax reform," Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) said on CNN's "State of the Union." Mr. Hensarling is a co-chairman of the deficit-cutting supercommittee that faces a Nov. 23 deadline for reaching agreement on a plan to cut at least $1.2 trillion from projected future deficits. The approach could ease the path to an agreement, by allowing Congress to reach the outlines of an agreement on tax revenues and spending cuts this year, while postponing the difficult details of a tax overhaul until next year, and handing the issue back to the congressional tax-writing committees.

Japan's Economy Rebounds (WSJ)
The Japanese economy grew at a brisk 6% annualized rate in the July-September period, as strong rebounds in exports and consumption helped fuel a recovery from the massive dislocations caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Marking the highest growth in a year and a half and slightly above economists' expectations, the price-adjusted GDP figure released by the Cabinet Office on Monday reassured investors and helped lift Tokyo stock prices by 1.1% to 8603.70.

Economist: There Is No Way Out For Europe (CNBC)
"There is no way out, I never thought there was, not for any of the countries that are in trouble. Once one of these countries goes into this sort of problem, there is no escape," Roger Nightingale, economist at RDN Associates, said.

Mayor used fake name to write articles about town (MSNBC)
The mayor of Utah's second-largest city is acknowledging he used a fake name to write freelance stories for Utah news outlets because he says the municipality needed more "good news."vWest Valley City Mayor Mike Winder quoted himself in some of the stories he wrote for the Deseret News, KSL-TV's website and a community weekly. Winder tells The Associated Press his career as a news reporter using the name Richard Burwash lasted several months until he decided to come clean this week. He says getting stories published was as easy as setting up a Gmail account and Facebook page under the alias. Winder says he wanted to offer balance to what he saw as bad news coverage of his city. He complains that the media devotes too much time to covering crime.

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Opening Bell: 04.23.13

Corzine Sued Over MF Global Failure (Bloomberg) Jon Corzine, the former head of bankrupt broker MF Global Holdings Ltd., was sued by the holding company’s trustee, Louis J. Freeh, for failing in his duty to oversee the company and causing the eighth-biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history. In the suit, filed in U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan, Freeh alleged that Corzine, the company’s chief executive officer and a former governor and senator from New Jersey, along with senior executives Bradley Abelow and Henri Steenkamp, failed to act in good faith and implemented strategies that caused the company to fail. CBOE May Retire From Police Beat (WSJ) The parent of the Chicago Board Options Exchange CBOE is considering whether to separate out its regulatory division in the wake of a continuing federal probe into potential conflicts of interest, people close to the discussions said. The largest U.S. options exchange currently oversees the market activity of its own customers as well as those at some of its rivals but has discussed forming a new, independent regulator or handing over those responsibilities to another agency. Splitting off the regulatory unit could shake up the supervision of stock and options traders in the U.S. by either creating a new agency or expanding the role of the independent Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which has over the past decade taken on oversight responsibilities for NYSE Euronext, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. and other exchanges. Twinkie offense: Bimbo in snack attack while Hostess is hobbled (NYP) Grupo Bimbo, the biggest baker in America, is working quickly to launch knock-off Hostess products before Twinkies and other snack brands come back to market, The Post has learned. Bimbo has told Teamsters locals it wants them to carry “a newly introduced snack cake product line to fill the Hostess void,” a source close to the situation said. The six to eight snacks will include a Hostess-like cupcake and a Hostess-like Twinkie, a second source said. Hostess shut down in November, and the new owners that bought its assets out of bankruptcy will likely be re-introducing its snack cakes in the fall, according to sources. “I’m hearing Bimbo wants to get [the new products] to market within the next month or two,” said Richard Sheehan, president of New York Teamsters Local 802. Gleacher Investor Urges ‘Rebirth’ as Asset Manager (Bloomberg) Gleacher & Co, the brokerage that closed its fixed-income business, should seek a “rapid rebirth” as an asset manager, according to activist shareholder Clinton Group Inc. Clinton Group, part of a coalition with a 7.7 percent stake in the brokerage, urged stockholders in a regulatory filing today to vote for its slate of directors, who would then use Gleacher’s brand to build a money-management business. Other investors favor liquidating the firm, Clinton Group said. Break up large bank to create regional lenders, argues Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (Telegraph) The newly enthroned head of the Church of England said that Britain needs some parts of the banking system to be "local and not London-based" to address the "concentration" in the industry which he said was one of the "great dangers of the current mess." Speaking at a Parliamentary event on "finding long-term solutions to the financial crisis", Archbishop Welby said there needs to be a "revolution in the aims" of banks to ensure they serve society rather than "self-regarding interest" or even just shareholders. “What we’re in at the moment isn’t a recession but some kind of depression,” he said. “It needs something very, very major to get us out of it, in the same way it took something very major to get into it.” Fed Still Owes Congress a Blueprint on Its Emergency Lending (Dealbook) After the Federal Reserve lent more than $1 trillion to big banks during the 2008 financial crisis, Congress required the central bank to devise specific ways of protecting taxpayers when doling out emergency loans to financial institutions. But nearly three years after that overhaul became law, the Fed still has not established these regulations. BOJ Seen Deploying Price Forecasts as Tool in Ending Deflation (Bloomberg) The BOJ may indicate that its 2 percent inflation target will be reached by spring 2015, the Nikkei newspaper reported April 18. The central bank may upgrade its view on core price gains to at least 1.5 percent for the year ending March 2015, people familiar with officials’ discussions previously told Bloomberg News. British Group Backs Renegotiating E.U. Role (NYT) The new group, called Business for Britain, is intended to counter the intervention of pro-E.U. business leaders who have warned of the dangers of Britain slipping out of the 27-nation bloc and its single market of 500 million people. A statement released Monday to announce the group’s formation was signed by about 500 executives. In the declaration, Business for Britain said Mr. Cameron was “right to seek a new deal for the E.U. and for the United Kingdom’s role in Europe.” Michael Bay Apologizes For Armageddon (Vulture) “I will apologize for Armageddon...We had to do the whole movie in 16 weeks. It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. I would redo the entire third act if I could. But the studio literally took the movie away from us. It was terrible. My visual effects supervisor had a nervous breakdown, so I had to be in charge of that. I called James Cameron and asked ‘What do you do when you’re doing all the effects yourself?’ But the movie did fine.”