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Opening Bell: 12.08.11

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Jon S. Corzine: 'I Simply Do Not Know Where The Money Is' (WSJ)
A contrite Jon S. Corzine will express both sorrow and a firm defense of his actions Thursday in his first public appearance since the collapse of MF Global Holdings Ltd. in late October. "Recognizing the enormous impact on many peoples' lives resulting from the events surrounding the MF Global bankruptcy, I appear at today's hearings with great sadness," Mr. Corzine plans to say in testimony prepared for a hearing by the House Agriculture Committee, which subpoenaed the former MF Global chief executive Friday. The testimony Thursday is sure to be contentious.

Jon Corzine Is Sad (CNBC)
"My sadness, of course, pales in comparison to the losses and hardships that customers, employees and investors have suffered as a result of MF Global’s bankruptcy," Corzine said in testimony prepared for his appearance before the House Agriculture Committee today. "Their plight weighs on my mind every day — every hour. And, as the chief executive officer of MF Global at the time of its bankruptcy, I apologize to all those affected."

Corzine: MF Global Board Knew What Was Up (BW)
MF Global’s board of directors was told of the European debt trades and approved limits on the risk in the trades by specific countries, Corzine said. “At the time of the bankruptcy, MF Global was within the risk limits set up by the board of directors,” Corzine said. “MF Global’s board was not a rubber stamp,” he said. None of the foreign debt securities that MF Global used in so-called repurchase-to-maturity transactions has defaulted or been restructured, Corzine said.

Franco-British Alarm of 1989 Comes True (Bloomberg)
Berlin’s dominance has shaken the Franco-German equilibrium at the heart of the post-World War II balance of power. Debt contagion and slumping growth have driven French borrowing costs to a euro-era record against Germany. The result may be a remade political map with even Poland, invaded by Adolf Hitler in 1939, calling for a stronger German role.

Geithner: US Has Interest In Strengthening The Euro Zone (Reuters)

Jobless Claims in U.S. at Lowest in Nine Months (Bloomberg)
Jobless claims dropped by 23,000 to 381,000 in the week ended Dec. 3, the fewest since February, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 47 economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a drop to 395,000. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls and those getting extended payments also decreased.

Police: Package Sent To Deutsche CEO Was A Bomb (Reuters)
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the package, which was intercepted late on Wednesday. "Initial investigations show that this was an operational letter bomb," the Criminal Investigations Office for the state of Hesse and Frankfurt prosecutors in a statement, adding that no further information was available.

Elementary school teachers 'caught having sex in stadium restroom at Buffalo Bills game' (DM)
France's wife (not the woman he had sex with in the bathroom) confirmed that her husband was stopped while leaving the lavatory...A Bills spokesman says, ‘We do not comment on arrests that are made on game days at the stadium.’ School district superintendent Michael Wendt said his office is doing its own investigation.

Banks' Ratings Reliance Nears End (WSJ)
Angry about the credit raters' poor track record on evaluating mortgage debt in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, lawmakers mandated that federal regulators remove references to credit ratings from their rules. Bank regulators struggled for a year to find a workable alternative to the credit ratings, which have become entwined in the domestic and international financial-regulatory structure.

Private-Equity Firms' Yuan Funds Soar (WSJ)
Private-equity firms closed 295 yuan funds in China from January to November, raising a total of 19.8 billion yuan ($3.1 billion), according to a report by Zero2IPO Research, a Beijing-based firm that tracks China's private-equity industry. The capital raised accounted for 75% of all the private-equity funds completed in the first 11 months of this year, which totaled 26.5 billion yuan—more than double the money raised in all of 2010.

US Growth May Put Fed Purchases On Hold (Bloomberg)
“Recent economic data takes away some of the urgency for the need to engage in a new round of quantitative easing,” said Michael Feroli, a former Fed economist who is now chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. The Federal Open Market Committee “can say, ‘Let’s wait and see if this is going to build on itself.’”

Air-rage ranter Alec Baldwin deactivates Twitter account (NYP)
A day after he was booted from an LA-to-JFK flight for freaking out because a crew member told him to turn off his phone, Baldwin last night apologized for delaying his fellow passengers — but resumed his verbal attack on the flight attendant. “I was singled out by this woman in the most unpleasant of tones. I guess the fact that this woman, who had decided to make some example of me, while everyone else was left undisturbed, did get the better of me,” Baldwin said. “The lesson I’ve learned is to keep my phone off when the 1950s gym teacher is on duty. That was my fault there, even though this trip was quite a bit different from so many others.”


Opening Bell: 03.28.12

Top MF Global Witness Talks Deal With Justice (WSJ) The star witness in a congressional hearing about MF Global Holdings Ltd.'s collapse has told Justice Department representatives through her lawyers details about transactions that ended up dipping into customer funds, people familiar with the matter said. But Edith O'Brien, the assistant treasurer at MF Global, isn't expected to reveal those details when she appears at Wednesday's hearing of the House Financial Services Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee. Ms. O'Brien plans to invoke her constitutional right against self-incrimination and to decline to answer questions, people familiar with the matter said. J.P. Morgan Was 'Assured' on MF GlobalTransfers (WSJ) MF Global Holdings Ltd. Chairman and Chief Executive Jon S. Corzine was in direct contact with J.P. Morgan Chase officials about a large transfer of customer funds to the bank shortly before the securities firm collapsed, according to prepared testimony from a J.P. Morgan lawyer for a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday. The testimony by Diane Genova, deputy general counsel for J.P. Morgan, provides additional details about a transfer of $175 million in MF Global customer funds to a J.P. Morgan account on Oct. 28. That move is the subject of scrutiny as investigators hunt for clues about how MF Global firm lost about $1.6 billion in customer funds. Magic Johnson Group to Buy L.A. Dodgers for $2 Billion (Bloomberg) The group was chosen yesterday by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt over billionaire Steve Cohen, who runs hedge fund manager SAC Capital Advisors LP, and Stan Kroenke, who owns the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams and Arsenal of English soccer’s Premier League. [WHO DOES STEVE COHEN HAVE TO SCREW AROUND HERE TO BUY A BASEBALL TEAM???] BATS Chairman Will Give Up Post (WSJ) BATS Global Markets Inc.'s directors voted to remove Joe Ratterman as chairman Tuesday, while expressing unanimous support for him to stay on as the company's chief executive. The vote came after Friday's collapse of the exchange operator's initial public offering, which raised questions about BATS's technology and put Mr. Ratterman on the defensive...BATS has launched a search for a new chairman, according to a spokesman. Face time with Facebook CEO stirs concerns on Wall Street (Reuters) Two people who attended Facebook's March 19 meeting remarked on the young CEO's absence and privately said they expected at least a cursory appearance. One analyst asked how involved Zuckerberg would be in future. In response, the company said expectations should be set pretty low, according to one of the two who was at the meeting. "Investors are crazy to want to get in bed with a company where the guy who controls it doesn't even pretend to care about the rest of the shareholders," said Greg Taxin of activist investment firm Spotlight Advisors, who will not buy shares. "That seems like a recipe for disaster." Texas journalist Sarah Tressler outed for leading a double life (NYDN) By day, she’s a reporter who strips through the veneer of Houston’s high society. By night, she’s a reporter who strips off her clothes. And Sarah Tressler, a 2008 graduate of NYU’s School of Journalism, is not ashamed. In fact, until recently, the 29-year-old brunette blogged about her after-hours gig and posted pictures of herself in scanty outfits on a Facebook page entitled “Diary of an Angry Stripper.” Since the outcry, that — and her titillating Twitter account — have been moved to a protected site. Before Tressler went underground, one of her juicier postings was about an alleged and “somewhat disappointing” sexual encounter with “Entourage” star Jeremy Piven. Europeans Sees Crisis Near End (Bloomberg) The euro area’s woes are “almost over” after a slow initial response by policy makers, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said in Tokyo today. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that the crisis is ebbing and her country’s borrowing costs will probably rise as its status as a haven wanes. Jefferies CEO Handler’s Pay Drops 7.9% for 2011 After Stock Rout (Bloomberg) Handler, 50, was awarded $14 million for the fiscal year ended Nov. 30, compared with $15.2 million for the 11 months through November 2010, New York-based Jefferies said today in a filing. The package included $1 million in salary and $13 million in restricted-stock units that were granted in 2010. Handler elected to not receive a bonus for 2011. Goldman Bows To Pressure (WSJ) Goldman Sachs agreed to change its board structure in order to persuade a union pension fund to drop a shareholder proposal that could have cost Chief Executive Lloyd C. Blankfein his job as chairman. The deal between the New York securities firm and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees means Goldman will appoint a "lead" director, but shareholders won't get a chance to vote at the firm's annual meeting in May on the proposal to replace Mr. Blankfein with an independent chairman. Ben Bernanke: The World Needs More Nerds (OS) In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said it’s important not to be complacent about the improving economy...[he also said] he takes no offense that Time magazine, in naming him Person of the Year for 2009, described him as “the most powerful nerd on the planet.” “I am very proud of my nerd-dom,” he told Sawyer. “In fact, the world needs more nerds. Nerds, you know, create more jobs and advance science, and I hope make good economic policy, but that remains to be seen.”