Opening Bell: 02.16.12

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Moody's Places Big Banks On Review (WSJ)
In the latest setback for investment banking, Moody's Investors Service placed the ratings of Bank of America Corp. , Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and three other global financial institutions on review for possible downgrade because it says the business' profitability will be diminished longer term. Moody's also said Wednesday it is reviewing J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada for possible downgrade. Seven other financial firms' reviews were extended Wednesday as part of a separate ratings action on European banks, while four more had other negative reviews extended.

Greek Officials: Bailout Talks On Track (WSJ)
So that's nice.

Europe Demands More Greek Budget Controls (Bloomberg)
While “further considerations are necessary regarding the specific mechanisms to strengthen the surveillance of program implementation,” Europe is set to make “all the necessary decisions” on Feb. 20, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said in an e-mailed statement after leading a conference call of finance chiefs late yesterday.

Falcone Seeks Spectrum Swap for LightSquared (Bloomberg)
Phil Falcone is seeking to swap spectrum owned by LightSquared Inc. with that controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense, a person with knowledge of the company said, in an effort to salvage his investment and save his hedge fund. Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners LLC has sunk $3 billion in LightSquared, a Reston, Virginia-based firm that plans to build a high-speed broadband network to serve 260 million Americans. The Federal Communications Commission said Feb. 14 it won’t let the company begin service because it interferes with GPS navigation of cars, boats, planes and tractors. The hedge fund manager hired Moelis & Co., a New York-based investment bank, and other advisers to help study alternatives, said the person, who asked not to be named because the company is private. If the defense department is not interested in a swap, Falcone could try to sell the spectrum.

New Fine In Greenlight Case (WSJ)
The fallout from alleged insider trading at Greenlight Capital Inc. continued Thursday when the Financial Services Authority said it had fined former Merrill Lynch executive Andrew Osborne £350,000 (about $550,000) for allegedly disclosing inside information ahead of a significant equity fund-raising by pub operator Punch Taverns PLC in June 2009. Mr. Osborne, acting on behalf of Punch, approached Greenlight, a major investor and despite being told that the company didn't want to be given privileged information, or "wall-crossed," went ahead with a conference call with Greenlight owner and President David Einhorn during which he disclosed that Punch was within a week of a substantial fund-raising, the FSA said.

Health deparment declares that Sardi's can no longer host dinner for Westminster Dog Show winner (NYP)
A New York tradition more than three decades old ended yesterday when the Health Department declared that starting next year, Sardi’s restaurant can no longer invite the winner of the Westminster Dog Show to a special dinner. “We can’t be expected to just roll over for the champ. Our primary concern is making sure people and pets follow the doggone rules — ideally without whining or begging,” quipped city Health Department spokesman John Kelly. Restaurant owner Max Klimavicius pointed out that his special guest was served in a private room on the second floor and said he was sorry to see the “ritual’’ end.

UBS Suspends Traders in Libor Probe (FT)
People familiar with the investigation told the Financial Times that Yvan Ducrot, the co-head of UBS’s rates business, and Holger Seger, the global head of short-term interest rates trading, are among a group of Zurich-based traders who have been suspended pending further inquiries into the bank’s rate-setting processes.

Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Roach Retiring (Bloomberg)
James Gorman announced the departure of Roach, who has been non-executive chairman for Asia since 2010, in a memo to employees today. Roach, who has also taught at Yale University, will transition full-time into academia, according to the memo.

Zurich Is World's Costliest City (WSJ)
Zurich and Tokyo scored 170 and 166, respectively, indicating that they are about 70% and 66% more expensive to live in than New York. Geneva and Japan's Osaka-Kobe area tied for third place, according to the survey. Overall, the list of the 10 costliest cities is divided equally between Asia and Europe. The European cities are Oslo, Paris and Frankfurt, while Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore round out the Asian portion of the list. No North American city breaks the top 10. New York dropped 11 spots to a tie for 47th with Chicago and below Los Angeles.

Portugal Will Show That It Is Not Greece: Minister (CNBC)
FYI.

The Delivery Guy Who Saw Jeremy Lin Coming (WSJ)
In May 2010, an unsung numbers hobbyist named Ed Weiland wrote a long-term forecast of Jeremy Lin for the basketball website Hoops Analyst. At the time, Lin was a lightly regarded, semi-known point guard who had completed his final season at Harvard. But Weiland saw NBA material. He emphasized how well Lin played in three nonconference games against big schools: Connecticut, Boston College and Georgetown. He noted how Lin's performance in two unsexy statistical categories—two-point field-goal percentage (a barometer of inside scoring ability) and RSB40 (rebounds, steals and blocks per 40 minutes) compared favorably with college numbers put up by marquee NBA guards like Allen Iverson and Gary Payton. Weiland concluded that Lin had to improve on his passing and leadership at the point, but argued that if he did, "Jeremy Lin is a good enough player to start in the NBA and possibly star."

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