Opening Bell: 11.17.11

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Thousands Mass Near Wall Street To Start Day Of Protests (WSJ)
Thousands of people have gathered near the former home of Occupy Wall Street in Lower Manhattan to start a citywide day of demonstrations to mark the movement’s two-month anniversary, blocking streets and sidewalks and facing an army of police in riot gear and on horseback. The plan is to march on Wall Street from the area around Zuccotti Park, the site until Tuesday’s eviction of the protest encampment, where activists plan to disrupt the start of the work day. So far, after more than 60 days of protest activity nearby, a heavy police presence and a warren of barricades have kept protesters from holding serious protests on Wall Street itself. At 7:40 a.m., however, a group of hundreds began to stream down Cedar Street chanting “Shut down Wall Street.” The group turned onto Nassau Street and headed to Wall Street. Police used motorcycles and other vehicles to block the march’s progress on Nassau Street, where a mass of demonstrators chanted “We are the 99%.” Elsewhere, police on horseback worked to control the crowd. Police dressed in riot gear have blocked Wall Street at the corner of Hanover Street, where a group of people shouting “Wall Street’s closed” blocked the barricade. “I’m hoping they see that they are being held accountable to the 99%,” said Katie Ferrari, 23 years old, who works as an artist and graphic designer.

Wall Street Protesters March on NY Stock Exchange (Reuters)
"I feel like this is a beautiful moment to take back our streets, especially after the eviction. We need to prove we can exist anywhere. It's gone beyond a single neighborhood, it's really an idea," said Rachel Falcone, 27, from Brooklyn...Megyn Norbut, 23, from Brooklyn, said she holds down three jobs and joined the protest on Thursday "because we got kicked out of Zuccotti and we need to show that this is a mental and spiritual movement not a physical movement. It's not about the park," Norbut said.

Protest Has Spawned Counter-Protest (@elliottjustin via Daily Intel)

Merkel Tells Monti To Fix Italy (WSJ)
"You have taken office at a difficult time for your country and for the euro zone in general, and there are many hopes and expectations set on you," she wrote in the congratulatory letter to Mr. Monti, who named his new government Wednesday. "It would behoove you and your government to decide upon and implement decisive and significant reforms."

Subpoenas Issued in MF Global Probe (WSJ)
Federal prosecutors in Chicago and New York have issued subpoenas in the probe of the collapse of MF Global Holdings Ltd., people familiar with the case said, a sign of an intensifying Justice Department criminal investigation as authorities try to track down about $600 million in client funds.

SocGen Cuts To Hit Investment Bank (WSJ)
SocGen plans to make the bulk of planned staff cuts at its corporate and investment bank, but its disposal of assets won't involve assets in Asia. Jacques Ripoll, Société Générale's head of global investment management and services, said the "main changes" would be in corporate and investment banking but the numbers have yet to be decided. There will also be other areas where the bank uses "a lot of financing, or capital, or dollar-funding transactions where there may be some consequences," said Mr. Ripoll, who sits on the French lender's executive committee.

U.S. Banks Face Contagion Risk From European Debt (Bloomberg)
U.S. banks face a “serious risk” that their creditworthiness will deteriorate if Europe’s debt crisis deepens and spreads beyond the five most-troubled nations, Fitch Ratings said. “Unless the euro zone debt crisis is resolved in a timely and orderly manner, the broad credit outlook for the U.S. banking industry could worsen,” the New York-based rating company said yesterday in a statement. Even as U.S. banks have “manageable” exposure to stressed European markets, “further contagion poses a serious risk,” Fitch said, without explaining what it meant by contagion. The “exposures” of U.S. lenders to major European banks and the stressed nations of Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, known as the GIIPS, are smaller than those to some of the continent’s larger countries, Fitch said. The six biggest U.S. banks -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley (MS) -- had $50 billion in risk tied to the GIIPS on Sept. 30, Fitch said. So-called cross-border outstandings to France for all except Wells Fargo were $188 billion, including $114 billion to French banks. Risk to Britain and its banks was $225 billion and $51 billion, respectively.

Fitch's Warning Spooks Investors (WSJ)
Gerard Cassidy, a banking analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said the intense reaction to the Fitch report shows how vulnerable big, interconnected banks are perceived to be three years after the shocks of the 2008 financial crisis. "In this world we are living in, you are guilty until proven innocent," he said. "If you aren't disclosing it, you are hiding information. That is what investors think. It's a big predicament for the big banks."

Jefferies CEO Sees Turmoil Ending Soon (Bloomberg)
So that's nice.

Legg Mason’s Miller to Exit Main Fund After Trailing Peers (Bloomberg)
Bill Miller will be succeeded by Sam Peters as manager of Legg Mason Capital Management Value Trust (LMVTX) on April 30, the Baltimore-based firm said today in an e-mailed statement. Miller will remain chairman of the Legg Mason Capital Management unit while Peters will assume the role of chief investment officer.

The Situation Sues Abercrombie For $4 Million (Gawker)
Filed in Florida, the lawsuit claims Abercrombie infringed "the GTL and The Situation trademarks," by selling T-shirts that said "The Fitchuation" and "GTL...You Know The Deal" on them. The company marketed these shirts without paying Sorrentino anything, while simultaneously distancing themselves from him in a press release.

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Opening Bell: 09.28.12

Bank Of America Reaches Settlement In Merrill Lynch Acquisition-Related Class Action Litigation (BW) Under terms of the proposed settlement, Bank of America would pay a total of $2.43 billion and institute certain corporate governance policies. Plaintiffs had alleged, among other claims, that Bank of America and certain of its officers made false or misleading statements about the financial health of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Bank of America denies the allegations and is entering into this settlement to eliminate the uncertainties, burden and expense of further protracted litigation. Greece Seeks Taxes From Wealthy With Cash Havens in London (NYT) At the request of the Athens government, the British financial authorities recently handed over a detailed list of about 400 Greek individuals who have bought and sold London properties since 2009. The list, closely guarded, has not been publicly disclosed. But Greek officials are examining it to determine whether the people named — who they say include prominent businessmen, bankers, shipping tycoons and professional athletes — have deceived the tax authorities by understating their wealth. Libor Riggers May Be Criminal, Even If Acts Not Illegal at Time (CNBC) Those who took part in the manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor), the key benchmark rate, could face criminal prosecution even though Libor manipulation is not yet a criminal offense. Martin Wheatley, who is advising the U.K. government on what changes could be made to Libor to stop manipulation in the future, said that U.K. regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is considering prosecuting those who took part under “broad principles of conduct.” He also recommended that the government should give the FSA power to prosecute future Libor manipulation. Libor Furor: Key Rate Gets New Scrutiny (WSJ) "There's a concern that if you're going to base financial decisions on a particular interest rate" it should be a measure that responds to changes in market conditions, "and that's not Libor," said Andrew Lo, a finance professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Macquarie Bonuses Whack Profit (WSJ) Macquarie Group may have lost its reputation as the Millionaire’s Factory as profits slumped since the onset of the global financial crisis, but according to Citigroup analysts the bank’s net profit could have been 60% higher last financial year if not for a dramatic rise in bonus payments to staff...Wes Nason estimates that while the bank’s return on equity fell to 6.8% last financial year-–hitting its lowest level since it listed in the first half of fiscal 2012 and compared with a 10-year average of 18.4%—-its average bonus payments almost tripled to A$73,000 a head, up from A$26,000 in 2009. Replacement referee Lance Easley stands by touchdown call (NYDN) Lance Easley has been vilified for awarding the Seattle Seahawks a touchdown on its Hail Mary pass in the closing seconds of Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers even though pretty much everyone in the country saw that the pass had been intercepted. “I processed everything properly,” Easley told the Daily News Thursday. “It was supported on video. But the bad thing is, people don’t understand the rules in that whole play. “But that play rarely ever happens, it rarely happens in the field of play and it never happens in an NFL game,” he added. “And here I got stuck in the middle of it.” The call was reviewed on instant replay — and, amazingly, upheld, despite the refs also missing a pass interference infraction by a Seattle player. Since then the 52-year-old Bank of America banker has been swept up in a whirlwind of national outrage — one that forced the NFL to end a seven-week lockout of its unionized refs early Thursday. But Easley said he and his replacements did a good job in their stint in zebra stripes. “I know where I stand,” he said. “Everything I did ... I got support from all the referees and everything, and replay and our league office and anybody else that understands the rules and how those plays function. Spanish Rescue May Throw Crisis Spotlight on Italy (Reuters) Italian government bonds risk being thrown back into the spotlight of the euro zone debt crisis once Spain decides to request aid and secures central bank support for its debt. A partial bailout for Madrid would probably trigger the European Central Bank's bond-buying plan, lowering Spain's borrowing costs and increasing investor appetite for riskier assets in general, including debt issued by Italy. But Italy could then return to the forefront of market concern as the next weak link. "The risks increase that you will get a contagion into Italy," said David Keeble, global head of fixed income strategy at Credit Agricole. Cyber Attacks On Banks Expose Computer Vulnerability (WSJ) Cyber attacks on the biggest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., have breached some of the nation’s most advanced computer defenses and exposed the vulnerability of its infrastructure, said cybersecurity specialists tracking the assaults. The attack, which a U.S. official yesterday said was waged by a still-unidentified group outside the country, flooded bank websites with traffic, rendering them unavailable to consumers and disrupting transactions for hours at a time. Such a sustained network attack ranks among the worst-case scenarios envisioned by the National Security Agency, according to the U.S. official, who asked not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly. The extent of the damage may not be known for weeks or months, said the official, who has access to classified information. Fitch Ratings Cuts China, India 2012 Growth Forecasts (CNBC) In its September Global Economic Outlook, the ratings agency said it now expected China’s economy, the world’s second largest, to grow 7.8 percent this year, down from a forecast of 8 percent made in June. It also lowered its forecast for economic growth in India to 6 percent in the financial year ending in March 2013 from a previous estimate of 6.5 percent. CIT Chief Tries To Rescue Reputation (NYP) John Thain yesterday said he brought up executive compensation at the time his firm was getting bailed out by taxpayers not for selfish reasons but to determine how much control Washington would have over his company. “One of the issues we were worried about at the time was, if you take government money how much say does the government have in how you run your business?” Thain said during an interview on CNBC. Days earlier, Thain was trashed by former bank regulator Sheila Bair, who, in her upcoming book, “Bull By the Horns,” accuses the Wall Street veteran of being fixated on pay during the height of the financial Armageddon. Bair, the former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. boss, wrote that Thain “was desperate for capital but was worried about restrictions on executive compensation.” “I could not believe it. Where were this guy’s priorities?” she wrote, referring to Thain. The CEO, who was tapped to run the troubled lender in 2010, also addressed during the CNBC interview rumors that CIT was looking to sell itself to a large bank. “It’s absolutely not true,” Thain said yesterday. Canada Cheese-Smuggling Ring Busted (BBC) A Canadian police officer was among three people charged as the country's authorities announced they had busted a major cheese-smuggling ring. A joint US-Canadian investigation found C$200,000 (£125,600) of cheese and other products were illicitly brought over the border into southern Ontario. The smugglers sold large quantities of cheese, which is cheaper in the US, to restaurants, it is alleged. The other two men charged were civilians, one a former police officer. The charges come three days after CBC News first reported the force was conducting an internal investigation into cheese smuggling. A pizzeria owner west of Niagara Falls told CBC that he had been questioned by police over the issue, but assured them he had not bought any contraband dairy. "We get all our stuff legit," said the restaurateur. "We thought it was a joke at first. Who is going to go around trying to sell smuggled cheese?"

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Opening Bell: 8.15.16

Tiny satellites are latest innovation hedge funds are using to get a leg up; David Tepper ditches; Rick Springfield says he never saw ‘Jessie’s Girl’ again; and more.