Opening Bell: 02.10.12

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Germany Says Greece Missing Debt Targets in Fresh Aid Rebuff (Bloomberg)
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Berlin that Greece’s plans would leave its debt as high as 136 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, according to two people who took part in the meeting and who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was private. That compares with the 120 percent foreseen in a 130 billion- euro ($172 billion) bailout being negotiated. Signs that Greece is falling short underscored euro-area officials’ frustration with the country’s bickering leaders and the prospect that they may again backtrack on fiscal pledges not first passed into law. Greek lawmakers begin voting on austerity measures this weekend after European finance ministers last night held back the rescue package demanding further commitments from Athens. “The Greek offer is not sufficient and they have to go away to come up with a revised plan,” Bertrand Benoit, a spokesman for the German Finance Ministry in Berlin, said by telephone today.

Insider Probe Aims At Member Of House (WSJ)
The Alabama congressman who serves as the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is under investigation into whether he improperly traded stocks or funds in financial markets based on inside information, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Office of Congressional Ethics began the review late last year into trading conducted by Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus. If the House's independent ethics body finds reason to believe he acted improperly, it would refer the matter the House's traditional Ethics Committee, which would then have 45 days to announce a course of action. The head of the congressional ethics body said: "We can't confirm or deny whether we are conducting an investigation."

House Insider Bill Passes With New Backers (WSJ)
After a six-year effort, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would formally ban insider trading by Congress, along the way picking up support from some surprising backers—lawmakers who actively trade stocks. A total of 286 House members from both political parties co-sponsored a bill known as the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge, or Stock Act. The legislation, which was first proposed in 2006 but drew no more than 15 sponsors in earlier years, passed 417-2 Thursday and will be reconciled with a Senate version approved last week.

SEC Reaches Settlement In Bear Stearns Fraud Case (NYT)
The Securities and Exchange Commission has reached a settlement with two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers that will avert a second trial over accusations that they had misled investors as the mortgage market was crumbling. The deal, which is subject to court approval, could be announced on Monday, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. A trial was set to begin on Monday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. The former Bear executives, Ralph R. Cioffi and Matthew M. Tannin, were accused of lying to investors about the health of their hedge funds, which were laden with complex securities backed by subprime mortgages.

Mortgage Deal Lifts Hopes For Housing (WSJ)
While the deal won't be a cure-all for the housing market or to the majority of borrowers at risk of foreclosure, the settlement also includes a provision that will let some homeowners who are current on payments refinance mortgages even though they owe more than their homes are worth. In addition, the deal will provide cash payments to other borrowers who went through foreclosure during the past four years. These people will be eligible to receive around $1,500 to $2,000. Banks will have three years to meet their obligations.

'Cold Cat Killer' strikes again as he kills 34th feline victim by lacing chicken pieces with anti-freeze (Daily Mail)
A psychopath dubbed the ‘Cold Cat Killer’ is believed to have struck for the 34th time - after lacing chicken with anti-freeze. Dozens of moggies have died agonising deaths after ingesting the harmful liquid, which has previously been soaked into biscuits and cat nibbles. Terrified residents in Bridgwater, Somerset, say they are 'too frightened' to let their pets out of the house following the spate of killings.

Greek Aid Deal ‘Much Better’ Than Euro Exit, Says Summers (CNBC)
FYI: “It would be much better if negotiated agreements can be found that provide for substantial consensual debt relief for Greece and provide for substantial structural reform for Greece,” Summers said. “That would be the preferred avenue if it could succeed.”

Chicago Man To Rescue Yale Business School (Bloomberg)
Yale SOM opened in 1976 with a focus on grooming leaders in government and philanthropy. Now the school is preparing to take on Harvard Business School and the Wharton School with a new $222 million building and new dean -- Edward “Ted” Snyder, who previously led the University of Chicago’s top-ranked business school. As Yale’s business school sheds its outsider status, alumni and former faculty worry that it risks losing its unique qualities just when the business world needs them most...Snyder, 58, who took the helm in July, was hired by Yale University President Richard Levin to help raise the business school to the levels of Yale’s top-ranked schools of law and medicine. Snyder, who led Chicago’s Booth School of Business for a decade and the University of Virginia’s business school before that, said Yale can improve without giving up the public- mindedness that sets it apart.

Criminal Probe Trail Going Cold at MF Global (Reuters)
More than three months later, it is far from clear that anyone will face criminal charges over the disappearance of more than $600 million in customer money as MF Global spiraled towards bankruptcy in the brokerage's final, frantic days in the last week of October.

Citigroup Takes $50 Million Loss in Libor Probe (FT)
Citigroup was forced to write off $50 million after two traders accused of attempting to influence global lending rates left the bank, according to people familiar with a worldwide investigation that is gathering pace.

Missed Super Bowl, Frantic Talks Led to $25 Billion Bank Deal (Bloomberg)
Everyone give it up for the people who had to skip Sunday's national holiday: "Bank executives, state officials and U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan worked frantically over Super Bowl weekend as the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17, according to three people involved in the discussions. The negotiations ran down to the wire the night before the agreement was announced, they said. Negotiators made phone calls late into the night and ironed out the final details by phone at about 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. yesterday, less than six hours before the Obama administration released the details to the public."

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RBS, UBS Traders Said to Face Arrest in Libor Probe (Bloomberg) U.K. prosecutors are poised to arrest former traders and rate setters at UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Barclays within a month for questioning over their role in the Libor scandal, a person with knowledge of the probe said. The arrests will be made by police under the direction of prosecutors at the Serious Fraud Office within the next month, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Arrests in the U.K. are made at an early stage of the investigation, allowing police and prosecutors to question people under caution and may not lead to charges. The SFO has 40 people working on the probe into manipulation of the London interbank bank offered rate, a benchmark for financial products valued at $360 trillion worldwide, and has involved the City of London Police, said David Green, the agency’s director. “Significant developments” in the case are coming “in the near future,” Green said yesterday in an interview at his office in London without giving further details and declining to comment on any possible arrests. Pressure Mounts On Fiscal Crisis (WSJ) The CBO on Thursday detailed its view that if Washington policy makers don't act before the end of the year, the economy would contract by 0.5% in 2013. The unemployment rate would jump from 7.9% to 9.1% by the end of 2013, according to the CBO—a nonpartisan arm of Congress. Ex-Goldman Bankers See Crisis Opportunity in Greek Insurance (Bloomberg) Alexis Pantazis and Emilios Markou are on a three-year odyssey to become next-generation car insurance executives in Greece that’s a million miles from their previous incarnation as bankers for Goldman Sachs. “One of our investors says you cannot wipe out a country,” said Pantazis, 36, a consultant at Boston Consulting Group before working as an executive director at Goldman Sachs from 2005 to 2008. “A country like Greece has 11 million people and these people need basic services. They need bread, they need milk, they need car insurance.” As French banks Credit Agricole and Societe Generale sell their Greek units to exit the only euro area country that’s in need of a second rescue package, Pantazis and Markou see an opportunity. After swapping business-class lounges and sushi for budget flights and sandwiches, the pair began pitching their Internet-based vehicle policies to Greeks two months ago. SEC Left Computers Vulnerable to Cyberattacks (Reuters) Staffers at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission failed to encrypt some of their computers containing highly sensitive information from stock exchanges, leaving the data vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to people familiar with the matter. While the computers were unprotected, there was no evidence that hacking or spying on the SEC's computers took place, these people said. The computers and other electronic devices in question belonged to a handful of employees in an office within the SEC's Trading and Markets Division. That office is responsible for making sure exchanges follow certain guidelines to protect the markets from potential cyber threats and systems problems, one of those people said...The security lapses in the Trading and Markets Division are laid out in a yet-to-be-released report that by the SEC's Interim Inspector General Jon Rymer. The Last Days Of Romneyland (NBC) From the moment Mitt Romney stepped off stage Tuesday night, having just delivered a brief concession speech he wrote only that evening, the massive infrastructure surrounding his campaign quickly began to disassemble itself. Aides taking cabs home late that night got rude awakenings when they found the credit cards linked to the campaign no longer worked. "Fiscally conservative," sighed one aide the next day. In conversations on Wednesday, aides were generally wistful, not angry, at how the campaign ended. Most, like their boss, truly believed the campaign's now almost comically inaccurate models, and that a victory was well within their grasp. (Outside Republicans and donors are another story. Some are angry over what they felt was an overly rosy picture painted by the campaign, and at what amounts to the loss of their investment.) New York Subway Repairs Border ‘on the Edge of Magic’ (NYT) There were some hiccups. At West Fourth Street, unexpected third-rail and switch problems delayed the return of the D, F and M trains. As the authority prepared to bring the G train back this week, a transformer blew, keeping the train offline for the morning rush hour on Wednesday. There were still service gaps on the N train, the A train in Far Rockaway and the R line, among others. On Thursday morning, inside his office, Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the transportation authority, checked his BlackBerry often, hoping for an update on the L train. Moments later, he placed a call to Howard B. Glaser, Mr. Cuomo’s director of state operations, whom he wanted to brief on the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. The tunnel could open Friday, he told Mr. Glaser, remarking that Mr. Bloomberg, “like an idiot,” had predicted publicly that the tunnel might open over the weekend. “He’s making it up,” he said, after a brief hail of profanity in which Mr. Lhota wondered aloud who, exactly, Mr. Bloomberg had been talking to. “It’s wrong,” he told Mr. Glaser. “It’s just wrong.” Mr. Lhota also spoke of the L line’s importance, as if his audience needed convincing. “You know who knows where the L train goes?” he barked into the phone. “All the hipsters in Williamsburg.” The BlackBerry buzzed on the table in front of him. He grabbed it quickly, then put it back. No good news yet on the L, he said. Hours later, that would change. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” he wrote on Twitter. “The L train is back. Enjoy your trip home tonight.” Whistleblower To Get Big Payment In Bank Of New York-Virginia Deal (WSJ) Bank of New York Mellon Corp. has reached an agreement with the state of Virginia to resolve accusations the bank charged hidden markups on currency transactions to Virginia's employee pension fund, in a deal that will also involve a $1.1 million payment to a whistleblower group, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The whistleblower group includes Grant Wilson, who spent two years as a secret informant while sitting on the bank's Pittsburgh trading desk. Mr. Wilson's identity was disclosed in a page-one article in The Wall Street Journal last year. As part of the agreement, Virginia won't pursue litigation against BNY Mellon, and the bank will offer reduced fees in the future under a new custodial deal, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Nearly Half Of Britons Want EU Exit (Reuters) Nearly half of Britons would vote in a referendum to leave the European Union and less than a third to stay in, according to a poll highlighting divisions facing Prime Minister David Cameron. Polling company YouGov said on Thursday 49 percent favoured leaving the EU, 28 percent would vote to stay in the 27-nation bloc, 17 percent were undecided and the rest would not vote. Crédit Agricole Posts Record Loss After Greek Sale (WSJ) The Paris-based lender, France's third-largest bank by market value, posted a third-quarter net loss of €2.85 billion ($3.63 billion), well below analyst forecasts of a €1.76 billion net loss. The bank reported a €258 million profit in the same quarter a year earlier. Rochdale Traders Await Rescue (NYP) Sixteen days after a rogue trader rocked Stamford, Conn.-based Rochdale Securities, the broker-dealer, still hasn’t reached a deal with a deep-pocketed investor, sources said. Fla. principal resigns after offering promotions for sex (WPBF) A Florida high school principal who offered teachers' promotions in exchange for sex has resigned from his position. Steve Van Gorden's resignation comes after a 300-page investigative report by Pasco County school officials into allegations of sexual harassment. Several teachers claim Van Gorden, who is also the mayor of Zephyrhills, sent text messages offering career boosts in exchange for sex and threatened them if they refused. Van Gorden said he's sorry. "The bottom line is I'm truly sorry for what occurred, and it's not going to happen again," Van Gorden said. Van Gorden has a year and a half left on his term as mayor.