Opening Bell: 05.09.13

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Einhorn's advice to investors: don't take my advice (Reuters)
Einhorn, this year's star attraction at the Sohn Investment Conference, an annual confab where the industry's top investors share their favorite trade ideas, wrapped up his presentation by offering some words of warning about his public comments. "It doesn't make sense to blindly follow me or anyone else into a stock," said Einhorn, president and co-founder of the $8.8 billion hedge fund Greenlight Capital. "Do your own work." He may have been talking to the converted. Einhorn's limited impact on Apple Inc shares after he implored the technology giant earlier this year to better use its cashpile has been noted by industry analysts.

Hedge Fund Billionaire Paulson Glosses Over His Losses (Reuters)
"Don't focus on weekly or monthly returns," Paulson told attendees at the fifth annual Skybridge Alternatives Conference, adding clients should not micro-manage their fund managers but find someone they like and stick with them for the long term, the people who heard the comments said. Paulson was being interviewed by Anthony Scaramucci, who founded SkyBridge Capital and is a large investor with Paulson's Recovery Fund. ... There was little tough questioning for the man who has notched some of the $2.25 trillion hedge fund industry's heaviest losses in the past two years and is losing more money this year due to his wager on gold.

Hedge Fund Impresario Plays Host in Las Vegas (DealBook)
Just outside the grand ballroom at the Bellagio hotel early Wednesday morning, Anthony Scaramucci, the backslapping host of the country’s largest hedge fund conference, spotted Gregory J. Fleming, president of Morgan Stanley Investment Management and one of Mr. Scaramucci’s most important business relationships. “Is your kid still in town? Does he want to meet Train?” Mr. Scaramucci asked, referring to the adult-contemporary rock band performing at the event.

Big Banks Push Back Against Tighter Rules (WSJ)
FYI

Earnings Not Yet a Viral Sensation (WSJ)
On April 2, the SEC announced that companies "can use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to announce key information…so long as investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information." Since then, only about a dozen firms have said they might break news on Facebook, Twitter and the like. And few of those companies make much noise online. A Facebook spokesman said the company plans to "disseminate information as broadly as possible, and that will include using Facebook." He wouldn't say when that would begin or if Facebook will ever use its own site as the primary place to report earnings.

CIA's New Chief Spy Outed on Twitter (Gawker)
The day after it was announced that the interim head of the CIA's National Clandestine Service had been passed over for the full time position because of her connections to the agency's controversial interrogation program, her successor was reportedly outed on Twitter by former Washington Post assistant editor John Dinges and then confirmed by veteran intellegence reporter Jeff Stein.

Berlusconi loses appeal in tax fraud case (FT)
Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister and billionaire media mogul, has lost his appeal against a four-year jail sentence imposed last October for alleged tax fraud involving his Mediaset company. Although Mr Berlusconi can make a second and final appeal, during which time the case may expire under the statute of limitations, the verdict reached by a Milan court on Wednesday evening could lead to friction within Italy’s new coalition government.

University endowments trim holdings in US Treasuries (FT)
Many university endowments have scaled back their holdings of Treasury securities from as much as 30 per cent in 2008-09 to zero in some cases, say people familiar with their investment strategies. The sell-off reflects a big change in the way fund managers view US government debt. The traditional attraction of Treasuries for US investors was that they were certain to be repaid. But with interest rates at such low levels, investors worry that bond prices could fall dramatically. “Treasuries were a core holding,” said one university fund manager. “Now everyone is holding less than 5 per cent.”

JPMorgan Joins BofA With Perfect Trading Record in Quarter (Bloomberg)
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. had perfect trading records in the first quarter, making money every day of the period as Morgan Stanley posted losses in eight sessions and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in two. One daily gain at JPMorgan exceeded $200 million as the biggest U.S. bank by assets recovered from last year’s London Whale derivatives loss, the New York-based company said yesterday in a regulatory filing.

G7 finance chiefs to discuss bank reform push (Reuters)
Some of the world's most powerful finance chiefs will meet in an English stately home on Friday and Saturday to try to speed up banking and finance reforms, with Cyprus' near meltdown fresh in their minds. ... Officials from two of the G7 economies said the talks - on Friday and Saturday at a 17th-century country house 40 miles northwest of London - were likely to focus more on the slow progress of reforms to banking and finance around the world.

Citigroup Fund Bestowed on Managers Offers Volcker Rule Payday (Bloomberg)
For a pair of former Citigroup Inc. (C) hedge-fund managers, Napier Park Global Capital may turn into a multimillion-dollar payday thanks to the Volcker rule. Jonathan Dorfman and James O’Brien are among executives who got 75 percent of the investment firm for free when it broke off from Citigroup earlier this year. The business may be worth $360 million, according to hedge-fund consultant Ezra Zask. ... Any windfall Napier Park executives get stems from former Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit’s response to the Volcker rule, a Dodd-Frank Act provision designed to force U.S. banks to reduce investments in hedge funds.

Harvard's Reinhart and Rogoff Publish Formal Correction (FT)
Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff have published an errata to their infamous 2010 paper on public debt and growth, acknowledging further errors in the figures, but leaving their basic conclusion unchanged.

Psychics on hot seat after false claim that Cleveland kidnapping victim was dead (NYDN)
In 2004, self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne had a heartbreaking message for the mother of Amanda Berry, one of the three Cleveland kidnapping victims. “She’s not alive, honey,” Browne told mom Louwanna Miller on “The Montel Williams Show.” ... Browne’s baseless claim in the shocking Cleveland case has put a spotlight on how law enforcement uses clairvoyants, and whether they’re helpful crime solvers — or opportunistic crackpots. Noreen Renier, who calls herself a "psychic detective," defended her profession from skeptics. “I don’t claim to solve the crimes. Police do,” Renier, of Orlando, Fla., told the Daily News. “I give information.” Renier, 76, said she’s worked on more than 600 cases across the country and is currently helping to crack a homicide case in Mozambique.

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Opening Bell: 04.04.13

Bank of Japan Launches Easing Campaign (WSJ) At his inaugural policy board meeting Thursday, Haruhiko Kuroda convinced the nine-member panel to agree to a major expansion of government bond purchases, including buying longer-term debt, which is designed to drive down longer-term rates. The BOJ also broke free from some self-imposed limits that the previous leadership under Masaaki Shirakawa adhered to. "Our stance is to take all the policy measures imaginable at this point to achieve the 2% price stability target in two years," Mr. Kuroda said at a news conference following the two-day meeting, one of the most closely watched in the central bank's recent history. ECB holds fire on rates (FT) The European Central Bank kept its main refinancing rate on hold at 0.75 per cent on Thursday, hours after the Bank of Japan stunned investors with a dramatic easing plan that will see it double its monetary base over two years. ... The ECB has been reluctant to cut its own interest rates further, which might involve moving into negative territory on its 0 per cent deposit rate, and would face difficulty adopting a quantitative easing programme itself. Yet inflation has been falling below the bank’s 2 per cent target, unemployment is at a record high and the 17-nation bloc remains in recession. Weekly Jobless Claims Get Weaker as Outlook Dims (Reuters) Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 28,000 to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the highest level since November, the Labor Department said on Thursday. It was the third straight week of gains in claims. Coming on the heels of data on Wednesday showing private employers added the fewest jobs in five months in March, the report implied some weakening in job growth after hiring accelerated in February. Enron's Jeff Skilling Could Get Early Release From Prison (CNBC) Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who is serving a 24-year prison term for his role in the energy giant's epic collapse, could get out of prison early under an agreement being discussed by his attorneys and the Justice Department, CNBC has learned. Skilling, who was convicted in 2006 of conspiracy, fraud and insider trading, has served just over six years. It is not clear how much his sentence would be shortened under the deal. MF Global Trustee's Report Blasts Former CEO Corzine (WSJ) A risky business strategy, failure to improve inadequate systems, as well as "negligent conduct" by former Chief Executive Officer Jon S. Corzine and others contributed to the unraveling of MF Global Holdings Ltd., a new report said Thursday. The report, released by Louis J. Freeh, the trustee for MF Global Holdings—the parent company of the U.S. brokerage firm MF Global Inc. and other units—laid much of the blame at Mr. Corzine's feet, accusing him of implementing trading strategies with minimal oversight and exceeding board-approved limits for some European trades the company made under his stewardship. Nightclub dancer "Ruby" stands up for Berlusconi outside court (Reuters) Carrying a large sign reading "The Ruby case: Are you not interested in the truth any more?", she said she had been used as part of a deliberate campaign against Berlusconi by magistrates and sections of the press. "Today I realize that there is a war under way against him that I do not feel part of, but which has dragged me in and injures me," she said, reading a prepared statement. "I do not want to be a victim of this situation." KKR to Carlyle Target $3.6 Trillion in 401(k)s Accounts (Bloomberg) Carlyle Group LP (CG), Blackstone Group LP (BX) and KKR & Co. (KKR), which usually open their doors only to clients willing to commit at least $5 million, are lowering that threshold or offering investments directly to individuals, an effort to attract fresh cash amid lackluster fundraising. Their ultimate goal: a slice of the $3.57 trillion Americans have accumulated in their 401(k) retirement plans. ... “We definitely would like to be part of 401(k) platforms,” Michael Gaviser, a managing director responsible for individual investor products at KKR, which oversees $76 billion, said in an interview at the firm’s New York headquarters. “We think about it every day because there’s so much demand.” Tiger Cubs Report a Rough Q1 (II Alpha) The first quarter was especially tough for long-short hedge fund managers - and the biggest, most prominent Tiger Cubs were not immune. ... New York-based Tiger Global, for example, was up only 2.5 percent in March and 5 percent for the first three months. Moscow Tries to Reinvent Itself as Financial Hub (NYT) “The idea is to upgrade the position of Moscow in ratings, to become closer to the leaders of innovation and to the big boys of international financial centers,” Andrei V. Sharonov, the deputy mayor for economic affairs, who led a roadshow tour promoting the city in Asia, said in an interview. ... Certainly Moscow has a lot of wooing to do. A city of traffic-clogged highways and sprawling concrete apartment blocks, Moscow is widely known as a singularly difficult place to do business. It did attract the big banking houses from New York and London after the fall of Communism. But cronyism, the lack of transparency and shady accounting gave companies pause. Weak courts and selective enforcement encouraged companies to conduct business outside Russia. North Korea Warns U.S. It’s Authorized Nuclear Attack (Bloomberg) North Korea stepped up threats against the U.S, authorizing its military to conduct a potential “smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike” while again restricting South Korean access to a joint industrial zone. Mark Zuckerberg’s Childhood Website Was Slightly Uglier Than Facebook (DI) "The only site where a yellow eye blinks at you." Norwegian schools reschedule exams amid Bieber fever (AFP) Bieber, who is 19, sparked chaos in Oslo in May last year when dozens of teenagers chased the singer's car in the hope of following him to a free concert at a location that was only revealed at the last minute.