Opening Bell: 06.19.13

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Fed May Not Be Able to Tame Volatile Trading (CNBC)
After weeks of speculation about whether the Fed will or will not clarify its position on quantitative easing, traders are handicapping the outcome of the Fed's two-day meeting and are looking for more guidance on when the Fed could begin what is mostly expected to be a slow paring back of its monthly purchases of Treasurys and mortgage securities. The meeting ends Wednesday with a 2 p.m. ET statement and revised economic forecast, and is then followed at 2:30 p.m. with a briefing from the Fed chairman. "We went from QE forever to QE finite. It's the timing that is uncertain," said RBS senior Treasury strategist John Briggs.

Inflation at 53-Year Low Gives Bernanke Time to Press on With QE (Bloomberg)
The lowest inflation since the brink of the Kennedy-era economic boom in the 1960s is buying time for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke to press on with the central bank’s $85 billion in monthly bond purchases. A gauge of consumer prices excluding food and energy that is watched by the Fed rose 1.1 percent in the year through April, matching the smallest gain since records started in 1960. With inflation below the Fed’s 2 percent long-run goal and the jobless rate at 7.6 percent, the Fed is falling short of its mandate to ensure stable prices and maximum employment.

Jail reckless bankers, standards commission urges (BBC)
Senior bankers guilty of reckless misconduct should be jailed, a long-awaited report on banking commissioned by the government has recommended. The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards was set up by Chancellor George Osborne last year after a number of scandals involving the industry. ... "Too many bankers, especially at the most senior levels, have operated in an environment with insufficient personal responsibility," the report says. "Senior executives were aware that they would not be punished for what they could not see and promptly donned the blindfolds. "Where they could not claim ignorance, they fell back on the claim that everyone was party to a decision, so that no individual could be held squarely to blame - the Murder on the Orient Express defence."

Dish Says It Won’t Submit a New Offer for Sprint Ahead of Deadline (DealBook)
Dish Network said on Tuesday that it would not submit a new takeover bid for Sprint Nextel ahead of a deadline imposed by the company and would instead focus on its bid for a stake in Clearwire, a smaller wireless operator. That appeared to leave Sprint free to complete the sale of a majority stake to SoftBank of Japan for $21.6 billion.

Woman kicks police dog in mouth, breaking his teeth, during subway brawl (NYDN)
A police dog named “Bear” helped arrest a subway brawler in midtown on Tuesday — even though one of the women involved in the fight kicked him in the mouth. ... [T]he dog is a five-year NYPD veteran who’s always ready to lend a helping paw. In 2011, Bear stood guard while Tieniber arrested three men wanted for robbery — one armed with a pair of scissors, Browne said. The same year, the pooch “froze” a razor-wielding suspect with a ferocious bark, allowing Tieniber to arrest the man. The handsome black- and brown-colored pooch was treated and released from the Animal Medical Center on E. 62nd St. in Manhattan and is expected to return to full duty Wednesday. Bear will likely have his two canine teeth capped and two others shaved where they were chipped.

China cash crunch deepens as PBOC withholds funding (FT)
Short-term interbank rates jumped more than 200 basis points, setting a record high at nearly 8 per cent for loans of one month or less, the latest indication of how credit has suddenly become very tight in China. The main reason for the tightness has been the central bank’s reluctance to pump liquidity in to the money market, wrongfooting banks that had expected Beijing would support them with large cash injections, as it had regularly done before. Signalling that the cash crunch could persist for a while, the China Securities Journal, a major state-run newspaper, ran a front-page commentary saying China was at a turning point in monetary policy. “We cannot use as fast money supply growth as in the past, or even faster, to promote economic growth,” the newspaper said. “This means that authorities must control the pace of money supply growth.”

Traders Try to Game Platts Oil-Price Benchmarks (WSJ)
Key to the strategy is a peculiar aspect of the spot market for oil, where traders buy and sell bargeloads for immediate delivery. Deals are negotiated in private, and buyers and sellers aren't required to disclose prices to anyone. To come up with a benchmark price, Platts has to rely on information volunteered by traders—a far cry from the way stocks or even oil futures are priced by crunching comprehensive data from public exchanges.

Google Considering Private-Equity Alliances Amid Buying Spree (Bloomberg)
Google Inc., actively on the lookout for acquisitions, is for the first time considering forging alliances with private-equity firms to help it structure deals. Buyout firms can assist an acquirer by providing needed financing or advice on how a target could be restructured or carved up after a deal closes. While Google may invest cash to get a return on the investment, it may also take part in a deal to acquire an asset, said Don Harrison, Google’s mergers and acquisitions chief.

Jefferson County Debt Plan Is Costly (WSJ)
The proposal for the refinancing, which has been approved by a majority of county commissioners, includes a set of bonds that schedule larger debt payments in the later years of the financing. About $474 million are a type of debt called capital-appreciation bonds. Such bonds have been derided by California's treasurer as "terrible" for their backloaded payments, and Michigan has banned their sale by municipalities.

Wall Street REIT Success Gives Investors Hangover Part II (Bloomberg)
Mortgage real-estate investment trusts raised $7.4 billion in the first quarter by selling new shares, the most in two years, just before a plunge in the value of the firms. American Capital Agency Corp. has declined 17 percent since offering $2 billion in February and Armour Residential REIT Inc. has slumped 24 percent after raising $444 million that month. “It was the absolute wrong time to raise money,” said Julian Mann, who helps oversee $6 billion in bonds as a vice president at Los Angeles-based First Pacific Advisors LLC. “Rather than turn money away, these asset gatherers chose to double-down.” Mortgage REITs, after luring investors with returns of 46 percent over the previous three years and dividends exceeding 10 percent, are declining this quarter by the most since 2008 as Federal Reserve officials signal they’re weighing plans to reduce their purchases of bonds.

Speedy Traders in Talks on Tie-Up (WSJ)
Two of the largest independent U.S. high-frequency-trading firms are in early merger discussions, as a downturn in trading opportunities has spurred cutbacks and tie-up talks among rivals. RGM Advisors LLC and Allston Trading LLC have discussed a deal that would combine their respective strengths in automated stock trading and futures markets, according to people close to the talks.

Ron Paul: Gold Could Go to 'Infinity' (CNBC)
A gold price of "infinity" might be hard to conceptualize, but Paul's point is actually quite simple. He believes that "as long as we have excessive spending, and excessive computerized money, we are going to see gold go up," because the value of the dollar will be driven down. As each dollar becomes less valuable, it takes more of them to purchase an ounce of gold, meaning that the gold price measured in dollars rises. Paul then takes it one step further. If Washington spending and Federal Reserve easing he refers to ends up toppling the U.S. economy and makes the dollar worthless, then no amount of dollars will allow an individual to purchase an ounce of gold. In that nightmare scenario, the price of gold (or anything else) in dollar terms is technically "infinity."

‘Ball buster’ wife is teste: WABC weatherman Bill Evans claims low blow in car fight (NYP)
Bill Evans claims that his wife, 48, “grabbed the waist band of his underwear and reached for his scrotum with her free hand, subsequently scratching it, which resulted in bleeding,” according to the affidavit by Greenwich police. The confrontation started when she “began to insult him in front of their children and told him that he does not live there nor is he wanted there,” according to the affidavit. His daughter asked him to move the car, and he told her he would after he changed, the affidavit said. But Dana entered the room and dumped out his work bag to get the keys. He asked for them back, which is when she punched and slapped him, he claimed, before she threw the keys in the closet. They fought over the keys in the closet, he said — during which time she tried to “karate kick” him. That’s when she clawed his testicles, he claimed.

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Opening Bell: 03.07.13

Fed's Fisher Pins Slow Growth on Politicians (WSJ) Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher on Wednesday blamed both major U.S. political parties for a "horrid" political climate in Washington, and said monetary policy alone can't drive the economy. "We provided the fuel for economic recovery," Mr. Fisher said of the central bank, describing the Fed's stimulus as "very high-octane, dirt-cheap gasoline." But he said that neither Republican nor Democratic politicians in Washington have done their part by putting policies in place that spur the private sector "to take the cheap fuel that we have provided and step on the accelerator." Banks Said to Weigh Defying Fed With Dividend Disclosures (Bloomberg) The largest U.S. banks are weighing whether to disregard a Federal Reserve request and announce their dividend plans shortly after the central bank’s stress tests are released, people with knowledge of the process said. The Fed has asked 18 firms, including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, to wait until next week, even though the lenders will get preliminary word today about whether their capital plans were approved. Bank executives are concerned that investors could be confused and are considering whether securities laws may require prompt disclosure of their plans for dividends and share repurchases, the people said. Paulson Gold Fund Down 18% as Metal’s Slump Foils Rebound (Bloomberg) John Paulson posted an 18 percent decline in his Gold Fund last month as a slump in the metal, after more than a decade of gains, undermined efforts by the billionaire hedge-fund manager to rebound from two years of losses in some strategies. The $900 million Gold Fund, which invests in bullion- related equities and derivatives, is down 26 percent this year, Paulson & Co. said yesterday in a client update obtained by Bloomberg News. The firm’s Advantage funds also fell in February after the metal and related stocks weakened as signs of economic optimism curbed gold demand. “Despite the volatility and drawdown of our gold equity positions, we believe in the long-term outlook for these positions as quantitative easing programs continue around the world, credit expands in the United States, and gold equities continue to trade at a significant discount” to historical average valuations, the hedge fund said in a letter sent yesterday to investors, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Carl Icahn Rachets Up Dell Fight (WSJ) In a letter released by Dell Thursday, Mr. Icahn said he has a "substantial" position in the company, and asked Dell to pay a per-share dividend of $9 if the deal is voted down by shareholders. He said that by his calculations, that transaction would be superior to the current going-private offer, citing a "stub" value of $13.81 a share which, combined with the special dividend, represents a 67% premium to the current $13.65 per-share offer price. Dell 'Welcomes' Carl Icahn to Go-Shop Process (CNBC) Dell on Thursday said it welcomed Carl Icahn, who has built up a 100 million share stake in the company, and other interested parties as the computer maker seeks to go private. The special committee appointed by the board said it was conducting a "robust go-shop process" and was looking at other alternatives after a $24.4 billion buyout led by founder Michael Dell faced opposition from some shareholders. Bad-News Bears Crash The Party (WSJ) For all their conviction, the bears realize it may be awhile before their dark predictions come true. "Unfortunately, I am bearish and I have been wrong," said Samer Nsouli, chief investment officer at Lyford Group International, a hedge fund, who argues that recent weakness in copper and oil is a portent of a global slowdown. "Make no mistake, it will end in tears. The eternal question is when." Lions Maul Two To Death In Kariba (Herald) Two people were yesterday mauled to death by lions in Mahombekombe suburb in the resort town of Kariba. Sources say the man only identified as Musinje and the woman Sharai Mawera, were attacked while spending time in a bushy area with the man managing to escape, leaving the woman behind. The man went on to report the case to police who, with the assistance of officers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, went in search of the lions. During the search they found an arm belonging to a man with investigations pointing to the lions having made a kill the previous night. That, the sources say, could have been the reason the lions did not completely eat the woman. BofA Times An Options Trade Well (WSJ) Bank of America's trading desk last June purchased options to buy 150,000 shares of Constellation Brands, an aggressive wager that the wine-and-beer seller's shares would rise, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of options-market data and of quarterly regulatory filings made by institutional investors. The trade helped push the volume in thinly traded Constellation options that day to more than 13 times the previous 30 days' daily average, the options data show. A week later, Constellation announced a pact to buy a Mexican beer maker out of a joint venture that imports Corona Extra and other beers into the U.S. market. Bank of America led a duo of banks that financed the $1.85 billion deal. Constellation shares soared 24% on June 29, the day the deal was made public, and Bank of America generated an estimated paper profit of more than $1 million from the options trading, the options-market data indicate. China Imitates Singer (NYP) Paul Singer’s battle with Argentina over defaulted debt is beginning to ripple through the bond world. Creditors looking to force deadbeat countries to pay up are turning to the controversial legal argument Singer used to press his case against the South American country in the US courts. On Monday, China’s Ex-Im Bank, which has an unpaid judgment worth $32 million against Grenada, sued the tiny Caribbean country in New York federal court to get its money back. China wheeled out the same “equal treatment” argument that Singer’s Elliott Management used against Argentina, and which was recently upheld at the appeals level for the first time in the US. China’s move marks the first time a creditor other than Singer and his cohorts have tested the maneuver in the US. Obama Tries Charm Offensive to Woo Republicans on Deficit (Bloomberg) The president broke bread last night with a dozen Republican senators, hosting a dinner at a luxury Washington hotel near the White House. Next week, he’ll visit Capitol Hill to meet separately with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. Obama has also spoken by telephone with at least a half- dozen Republican lawmakers over the past few days about the budget and other priorities of his second term, including a rewrite of immigration laws and controlling gun violence. “There have been some problems, but we’re all adults and you just have to put the country ahead of party and you’ll be fine,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped organize the dinner, said before the meal. The increased outreach marks a shift in strategy for the White House, amid signs the president’s poll numbers are falling after he and Republicans were unable to avert the across-the- board spending cuts that took effect March 1. Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Fall to a Six-Week Low (Bloomberg) First-time jobless claims unexpectedly fell by 7,000 to 340,000 in the week ended March 2, the lowest since the period ended Jan. 19, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 355,000. The four-week average dropped to a five-year low. JC Penney Board Can’t Be 'Delusional': Ex-CEO (CNBC) Former JC Penney CEO Allen Questrom told CNBC on Wednesday that the company's board of directors is wrong in thinking the struggling retailer can change its fortunes under current boss Ron Johnson. "The board has to take action. They can't be delusional like Ron Johnson is," Questrom said on "Fast Money Halftime Report." "This has been going on long enough. You can't say you're going to make your numbers for the year and then drop a billion dollars." Questrom, who has watched from afar as Penney's sales and stock have suffered, told CNBC that directors needed to act quickly. "If they think if it all of a sudden going to turn itself around, there is no way they can have reliable information – because Ron is not a source for that," he said. "The sooner they act, the better." 1 in 10 Yale students have engaged in prostitution, 3% have had sex with an animal (NYDN) Sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt hosted the sex workshop session where around 55 students used their cellphones to answer questions about sex. The results were then published in real time on a screen. McDevitt, who also owns the Feminique sex store in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said the results showed "you can't have assumptions about people's backgrounds." Student Giuliana Berry, who hosted the event, told Campus Reform the workshop - part of Yale's Sex Weekend - aimed to increase understanding and compassion for people who indulged in "fringe sexual practices."

Opening Bell: 2.9.16

Gold traders see metal gaining; Beyonce boosts Red Lobster; Investors pull out of Gross; Verizon considers Yahoo; Eric Trump: Waterboarding ‘No Different’ Than ‘What Happens in Frat Houses Every Day’; and more.

Opening Bell: 06.06.12

Greece Warns of Going Broke as Tax Proceeds Dry Up (NYT) Government coffers could be empty as soon as July, shortly after this month’s pivotal elections. In the worst case, Athens might have to temporarily stop paying for salaries and pensions, along with imports of fuel, food and pharmaceuticals. Officials, scrambling for solutions, have considered dipping into funds that are supposed to be for Greece’s troubled banks. Some are even suggesting doling out i.o.u.’s. Spain Warns It Needs Help (WSJ) Oh, hey, in case it was unclear: "Spain made its most explicit suggestion yet that it would seek help from Europe for its struggling banks, as the country's budget minister said high interest rates on Spanish bonds were a signal the government risks losing access to financial markets." Nobel Winner Stiglitz Sees More Recession Odds In Romney (Bloomberg) History shows that the adoption of fiscal austerity when an economy is weak can have disastrous consequences, as happened in the U.S. in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression, Stiglitz told Bloomberg editors and reporters in New York Monday. “The Romney plan is going to slow down the economy, worsen the jobs deficit and significantly increase the likelihood of a recession,” said Stiglitz. US Already in 'Recession,' Extend Tax Cuts: Bill Clinton (CNBC) In a taped interview aired with CNBC, the 42nd president called the current economic conditions a "recession" and said overzealous Republican plans to cut the deficit threaten to plunge the country further into the debt abyss. Blanked Bankers Double As Bonuses Disappear, Survey Shows (Bloomberg) The proportion of investment bankers who got no bonuses last year more than doubled to about 14 percent, a poll by executive-search firm Options Group shows. The percentage of employees who weren’t given an annual award rose from 6 percent in 2010, a report yesterday from the New York-based company said. Getting no bonus, or being “blanked” by your employer, isn’t the smear it once was because base salaries increased afterthe 2008 financial crisis, said Michael Karp, managing partner of Options Group. The pizza has ‘sex’tra toppings (NYP) An Italian eatery just steps from Yankee Stadium is charging customers for slices of pizza — and sex with their wait staff, a new lawsuit claims. Yankee fans heading to Stadium Pizza after ball games are treated to a smorgasbord of waitresses and bartenders moonlighting as prostitutes, according to a lawyer for former employee Olga Contreras, who is suing the restaurant’s owners for sexual harassment, said her lawyers, Matthew Blit and Amanda Gudis. Contreras says she has spotted one worker frequently giving oral sex, and customers disappearing into the restroom with the staff. Morgan Stanley May Sell Piece of Commodities Unit (CNBC) Worried about the potential impact of new regulations, Morgan Stanley is considering selling a minority stake in its commodities business, say people familiar with the matter, and has held preliminary conversations with potential suitors in recent months about how a deal could look. Geithner Said To Seek U.S. Bankers’ Dodd-Frank Objections (Bloomberg) Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has challenged bankers to give him specifics on their longstanding complaint that the Dodd-Frank Act is imposing costly, confusing and burdensome regulations on them, according to four people familiar with the matter...Geithner offered to use his ability to reach across agencies to better coordinate and streamline rules if he found the report convincing, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the study. The complaints include the handling of so-called stress tests of banks’ ability to weather a crisis, capital requirements and restrictions on mortgage servicing. Feds probing Nasdaq’s $10.7M FB profit (NYP) ...some of the issues the agency is believed to be looking at is whether the exchange made its trades ahead of clients and other participants, sources said. The regulators also is looking into whether the trading systems at other Nasdaq member firms made matters worse. Italy To Push 'Pink Quotas' (WSJ) A new law requires Italian listed and state-owned companies to ensure that one-third of their board members are women by 2015. Currently, only around 6% of the total number of corporate board members in Italy are women—one of the lowest levels in Europe and a number that reflects how few women work here. Gold Bugs Defy Bear-Market Threat With Soros Buying (Bloomberg) Bank of America was joined by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Barclays Plc in urging investors to buy in December and January. Now, after gold fell 10 percent in a four-month slide through May, they say prices will rebound this year or next as the Federal Reserve shores up the world’s biggest economy by easing monetary policy and devaluing the dollar. Billionaire George Soros bought more in the first quarter and hedge-fund manager John Paulson held on to the biggest stake in the SPDR Gold Trust, the largest exchange-traded product backed by bullion, Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. Some investors are refusing to capitulate even after failed elections in Greece drove the euro to a two-year low against the dollar and gold slumped as much as 21 percent in December from the record $1,923.70 set in September. Oregon woman wins $900K after contracting herpes from sex partner (NYDN) “He was 69, my client was a very attractive 49. My argument to the jury was he just wanted to sink his hooks into her,” the plaintiff’s attorney said. The jury found that the man was 75% at fault, while the woman was 25% responsible. The jurors also decided that by exposing her to the STD, the man committed battery and made her suffer greatly.