Opening Bell: 06.25.13

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Walking Back Bernanke Wished on Too Much Information (Bloomberg)
“Will the Fed try to walk back from how the market has perceived its comments?” Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene and Mike McKee. Pimco, based in Newport Beach, California, manages the world’s biggest bond fund. “The central-bank brand, this notion that the markets had that they were wise, they were powerful and were effective is under assault,” El-Erian said. “The Fed has to be very careful what it does with its reputation here.”

Falling Debt Prices Roil Market (WSJ)
Trading desks at Wall Street firms are increasingly worried about the demand for bonds, or liquidity, they can expect from investors, and they don't want assets that could stick them with losses if prices fall further. Many investors and banks close their books for the second quarter of 2013 at the end of the week. ... "We're coming from an environment where liquidity was already difficult," said Andrew O'Brien, partner and portfolio manager at Lord, Abbett & Co., whose group manages $45 billion in bonds. He said that, unless there is a buyer already lined up, it is difficult to trade anything.

U.S. Civil Charges Against Corzine Are Seen as Near (DealBook)
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the federal agency that regulated MF Global, plans to approve the lawsuit as soon as this week, according to law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case. In a rare move against a Wall Street executive, the agency has informed Mr. Corzine’s lawyers that it aims to file the civil case without offering him the opportunity to settle, setting up a legal battle that could drag on for years.

For Third Point Manager, It's Not Easy Being Short (CNBC)
Amid a 10 percent Standard & Poor's rally this year, some of Third Point's short holdings have held it back, as even the most beaten-down companies have staged remarkable comebacks. Against that backdrop, Jim Carruthers, the Third Point partner who handled the company's research-driven small-stock short positions from San Francisco, is retiring from the company this summer, according to a recent investor letter.

Tory minister breaks foot after table-dancing in Soho (Telegraph)
Mark Harper, a Conservative minister has broken his foot after dancing on a table in Soho. Mr Harper, an immigration minister responsible for the policing of Britain's borders, revealed the accident happened during a night out on the town. He was quick to point out that his wife was with him at the time of his visit to the trendy London district, which is also known for having a seedy side. In a statement, the minister said: "I was dancing on a table in a bar in Soho when I fell off and broke my foot. "My wife Margaret was with me - but thankfully she’s a far better dancer so didn’t fall off."

Short Term, Markets Are Oversold: Marc Faber (CNBC)
"Treasury bonds, gold and equity markets are oversold in the near-term and they can rebound for the next ten days or even the next month," Faber, the author of "The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report," said on Tuesday.

PBOC Addresses Cash Crunch (WSJ)
Speaking at a news conference in Shanghai, an official of the city's central bank branch said that recent volatility in interbank credits—some rates spiked to 30% last week—was temporary and that the People's Bank of China would be flexible in managing liquidity. "We will continue to closely monitor changes in liquidity in the interbank market," said Ling Tao, a deputy director of the Shanghai branch of the People's Bank of China. "And we will step up communication with the market to stabilize expectations and guide market interest rates into a reasonable range."

Qatar emir hands power to son, no word on prime minister (Reuters)
Qatar's emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani handed power on Tuesday to his son, Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim, taking the rare step for a Gulf Arab ruler of voluntarily ceding power to try to ensure a smooth succession. But the 61-year-old emir made no immediate mention of the public face of Qatar's assertive foreign policy, prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, a veteran politician who had been expected also to step down.

Mark Carney confirms plan for Libor reform committee (FT)
The steering committee, to be chaired by Martin Wheatley of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and Jeremy Stein from the US Federal Reserve, will also solicit recommendations from a panel of market participants. ... Mr Carney said the oversight group would be considering “the ease of potential transition” to a new way of calculating an interbank benchmark and would “recognise there is considerable improvement being made” over how Libor is presently derived, through submissions from panel banks.

Misjudged Annuity Guarantees May Cost Life Insurers Billions (WSJ)
Life insurers in the U.S. face charges against earnings potentially totaling billions of dollars from miscalculations about the number of customers who would exercise lifetime-income guarantees sold with the retirement products known as variable annuities, according to a new report from Moody's Investors Service. Variable annuities are a tax-advantaged way to invest in stock and bond funds, and these particular guarantees promise steady payouts if owners' fund accounts become depleted. ... Over the past couple of years, many insurers have clamped down on fund choices, raised fees, forbid additional account contributions and sought to buy back the contracts. In one of the latest efforts, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. is requiring owners of certain of its guarantees to move at least 40% of their money into bond funds—and lose their guarantee if they fail to transfer the money out of stock funds.

Men's Wearhouse founder clashed with CEO, mulls comeback (Reuters)
Tensions started rising at Men's Wearhouse Inc over the past six months, as founder and executive chairman George Zimmer increasingly butted heads with his handpicked CEO over the clothing retailer's strategy. ... Zimmer, who is known to U.S. TV audiences for his advertising catch phrase "you're gonna like the way you look - I guarantee it," was seen by company directors to be undermining Ewert's authority. ... Zimmer, who was shocked by the decision, quit the board on Monday, and is now mulling his options, they added. While Zimmer is still unclear what those options might be, an attempt to stage a comeback at the company is possible. He is talking to his advisers, including legal counsel Cooley LLP, but a decision is not imminent, the sources said. Industry bankers and lawyers said these options could involve teaming up with private equity firms to launch a buyout bid or trying to wage a proxy battle with the help of shareholder activists or institutional investors.

Crocs Answers Clog Haters With Leopard-Print Ballet Flats (Bloomberg)
Chief Executive Officer John McCarvel is all too aware of the Crocs animus and how it complicates his strategy to attract new customers and double sales in five years. The clogs still generate 47 percent of sales because lots of people like them, especially medical professionals and kids. Yet to hit his target, McCarvel must persuade the haters to buy the company’s other footwear. That’s why Crocs is telling the world all about its wedges, sneakers and leopard-print ballet flats -- and hiding Crocs in the back of stores the way grocers do with milk. “Our milk are those clogs,” McCarvel said in a telephone interview on June 5. “If someone wants them, make them walk through all the new stuff first.”

Connect the snots: The new 'Harvard' club for the digital age (NYP)
[P]otential IvyConnect members’ applications include a résumé, a photo, a list of cities they frequently visit (there is a pull-down menu of 50 acceptable ones to choose from) and a checklist of personality traits. (When asked to fill out the form, Triebel checked off “open-minded” and “driven,” whereas Meric highlighted “adaptive” and “optimistic.”) ... “I think from the outside looking in, with a name like IvyConnect, sure, it seems elitist, but that’s taking the easy look,” says member Jean-Claude Homawoo, 33, an exec for e-commerce site The Cools. “Dating and social connections are always a matter of perceived affinities initially. It’s self-selected.”

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Opening Bell: 04.12.12

Buffett Feasts On Goldman Scraps (WSJ) Details of one trade in particular have recently caused a stir in the market. In November, Goldman sold about $85 million of loans in troubled newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises Goldman sold the debt at about 65 cents on the dollar, having bought it months before at around 80 cents, resulting in a loss of at least $13 million. The buyer: a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., according to several people familiar with the matter. Mr. Buffett has since made a tidy paper profit on the loans, which are now worth about 82 cents on the dollar, the people said. Jim Chanos: Chinese Banks ‘Great Shorts,’ Won’t Be Broken Up (CNBC) Chanos, the head of Kynikos Associates, has been betting against China — despite its role as a global economic leader — primarily because he believes the country is overbuilt and does not have the internal demand to support its ambitious growth plans. Nowhere has that trend been more apparent than in the banking system. "If you looked at the performance of the banks over the last two years...they have been great shorts," Chanos said. "They have been going down — they're down 30 percent over the last two years." George Soros: Exceptional Measures Needed to Save EU (FT) "Other countries have gone through similar experiences. Latin American countries suffered a lost decade after 1982, and Japan has been stagnating for a quarter of a century; both have survived. But the European Union is not a country and it is unlikely to survive. The deflationary debt trap threatens to destroy a still-incomplete political union," he wrote. Blackstone President To Raise For Obama (Morning Money) "Tony James, the president of Blackstone Group LP, has agreed to hold a fundraiser for... Obama’s re-election campaign, according to two people familiar...By agreeing to raise money for Obama, James has diversified Blackstone’s political bets for the November election. Blackstone Chairman Stephen Schwarzman has been raising money for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee." SEC, Goldman to Settle Research Case (Reuters) U.S. securities regulators are preparing to announce that Goldman Sachs will pay $22 million to settle allegations the bank did not have adequate policies to prevent research from being passed inappropriately to preferred clients, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. BlackRock's Street Shortcut (WSJ) BlackRock is planning to launch a trading platform this year that would let the world's largest money manager and its peers bypass Wall Street and trade bonds directly with one another. The electronic trading hub has the potential to reduce a lucrative revenue stream for investment banks at a time when their businesses are being squeezed by lackluster markets and new regulations put in place to curb risk in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The trading platform would be run by the New York-based company's BlackRock Solutions arm and offer 46 clients—including sovereign-wealth funds, insurance companies and other money managers—the ability to trade in corporate bonds, mortgage securities and other assets, company executives say. Under the plan, the platform would seek to match buyers and sellers of the same securities, in a process known as "crossing trades." BlackRock Solutions would charge a small fee for the service that would be much lower than Wall Street's trading commissions. New Yorker breaks up subway scuffle, snacks in hand (NYDN) Sonder, 24, played the role of hungry hero “two or three Thursdays ago” after hopping on an uptown 6 train at Spring St. The calm inside the subway car was shattered a minute later when a tussle broke out between a man and a woman. “I turned around and I saw these two kicking each other pretty viciously,” said the sturdy Sonder, who stands six-feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. “I stepped over and tried to see if I could help.” Mid Pringle, Sonder thrust himself between the pugilists. More chips were eaten, but no other punches or kicks were thrown. “I just got caught up in the moment,” said Sonder, who was also holding a bag of gummy bears during the incident. Dimon Vows Fight Moynihan Lost Over Claims From Mortgages (Bloomberg) “We are going to fight repurchase claims that pretend the steep decline in home prices and unprecedented market conditions had no impact on loan performance,” Dimon, chief executive officer of the New York-based lender, wrote in the April 4 letter. He’ll also oppose “securities claims brought by sophisticated investors who understood and accepted the risks.” Jobless Claims Post Jump; PPI Up, Trade Deficit Down (Reuters) Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 380,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week's figure was revised up to 367,000 from the previously reported 357,000. Fur Flies in High-Stakes Airlifts of Animals by Lufthansa (Bloomberg) An African white rhinoceros peers through the bars of its Frankfurt compound, while across the floor a Madagascan chameleon inches around its vivarium and an Andean alpaca plucks hay from a bale. It’s not a scene from the city’s zoo but from Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Animal Lounge, a state-of-the-art complex that’s at the center of the German carrier’s plans to dominate the most specialized part of the $66 billion air-cargo industry. Lufthansa, Air France-KLM Group and Dubai-based Emirates, which transports thoroughbreds for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, horseracing’s leading owner, are competing in a high- stakes market. Premium profit margins come with the risk of an in-flight death involving a beloved family pet, top-ranked stallion or priceless panda. “It’s not like pharmaceuticals, where your main concern is the temperature,” said Animal Lounge Director Axel Heitmann. “If a bag of fish leaks it needs replacing with the right kind of water and the right oxygen. And if something goes wrong you can’t just hand a customer $1,000 and tell him to buy another pet. He wants the dog or cat he’s had for 10 years.” KKR Invests in China Cord Blood (WSJ) Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. will invest $65 million into China Cord Blood Corp., the country's largest operator of services for umbilical cord blood that is rich in stem cells, to capitalize on China's fast growing healthcare services industry. Police: Dealer tied 89 bags to penis, peed at the station (Philly) Police Corporal Christopher Eiserman said another officer was on routine patrol Friday when he pulled Ray Woods over for a broken rear light and found marijuana in his car. When the officer searched Woods before placing him in the police cruiser, he discovered "a large bulge" in the front of his pants, Eiserman said. Police say Woods actually had the balls to deny that there was any contraband down there. “He stopped him for the traffic violation and one thing led to another," Eiserman said. Back at the station, Eiserman said, police discovered that Woods had tied a large plastic bag around his penis that contained a whopping 89 small bags of suspected heroin and cocaine. Then things got messy. “I tried to remove it. Unfortunately, and I don't know if it was nervousness or not, but he started urinating all over," Eiserman said. While it wasn't exactly what Eiserman had in mind when he started his shift Friday, he couldn't help but chuckle at the ingenuity, or lack thereof, of street-level drug dealers. “In 14 years, I’ve seen it down their pants, in their a--, but I've never seen it tied to their penis," he said.

Opening Bell: 03.21.12

Hartford Bows to Paulson Wish to Exit Annuity Business (WSJ, earlier) Bowing to pressure from hedge-fund titan John Paulson, Hartford Financial Services Group said Wednesday it would exit its annuity business and weigh a sale of a large portion of its life-insurance operation. The move will allow Hartford to focus on its property-casualty unit, where the company got its start more than 200 years ago, as well as its group benefits business and its "high return" mutual fund operation, Chief Executive Liam McGee said in a statement. The announcement marks a substantial change of strategy for Hartford, which has long resisted calls to separate its life insurer from its property-casualty arm. Mr. Paulson, whose hedge fund is Hartford's largest shareholder, became the latest to push for such a move when he took to the company's fourth-quarter-earnings call in February to criticize management and urge them to "do something drastic" to boost the share price. Bernanke As Professor Tries To Buff Fed's Image (NYT) Mr. Bernanke, one of the most powerful men in Washington, has agreed to moonlight as a college professor, delivering four lectures on central banking over the next two weeks. He also will read some student papers...“It always surprises you to realize that this guy actually exists and he’s not just on TV,” said Max Sanders, a 19-year-old from New York. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear lectures from him,” said Noah Wiviott, 21, of New Jersey. “He clearly knows what he’s talking about.” Not everyone, however, found him convincing. Yuqi Wu, a 20-year-old student from China, said she did not agree with Mr. Bernanke’s criticism of her government’s monetary policy. “I definitely support the Chinese government’s position,” she said. Buffett Seizes Lead in Bet on Stocks Beating Hedge Funds (Bloomberg) Warren Buffett made a friendly bet four years ago that funds that invest in hedge funds for their clients couldn’t beat the stock market over a decade. So far he’s winning. The wager that began on Jan. 1, 2008, pits the Omaha, Nebraska, billionaire against Protégé Partners LLC, a New York fund of hedge funds co-founded by Ted Seides and Jeffrey Tarrant. Protégé built an index of five funds that invest in hedge funds to compete against a Vanguard mutual fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The winner’s charity of choice gets $1 million when the bet ends on Dec. 31, 2017. Banks Seek Delay On Volcker Rule (WSJ) The Volcker rule, which restricts banks' ability to trade with their own money, is set to take effect July 21, whether or not regulators have a final rule in place, according to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month that regulators likely wouldn't have a rule in time. A group representing banks and others involved in bundling and selling loans is warning that deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars may need to be shut down because of wording in the law requiring compliance with a rule that doesn't yet exist. Cops arrest Occupy Wall Street protesters in Union Square (NYP) Cops shut down Union Square and kicked out a large crowd of Occupy Wall Street protesters last night, arresting nine demonstrators last night and this morning, just days after larger clashes at the group's former encampment downtown. I love lava lamp (Politico) Another amusing exchange as Mitt Romney walked past a Chicago Google employee with a big blue lava lamp (turned off) on his desk: "That's a big lava lamp, congratulations," Romney said. Wilbur Ross: Long-Term Bond Bubble Getting Ready To Burst (CNBC) "I think the greatest bubble that is about to burst is the 10-year and longer Treasury, because the idea that inflation is gone forever and for all time, and therefore these artificially low rates can last, is silly," the president of W.H. Ross & Co. said in an interview. Bernanke: Fed Is Ready To Act If Europe Falters (Reuters) "In the past few months, financial stresses in Europe have lessened, which has contributed to an improved tone of financial markets around the world, including in the United States," Bernanke said in testimony prepared for a House hearing Wednesday. Bernanke stresses, however, that a full resolution of the crisis "will require a further strengthening of the European banking system; a significant expansion of financial backstops, or “firewalls,” to guard against contagion in sovereign debt markets." Greece Names New Finance Minister (WSJ) Greek Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sachinidis will be the country's new finance minister, replacing Evangelos Venizelos, the prime minister's office said Wednesday.

Opening Bell: 2.3.16

Argentina attempting to settle with hedge funds; Parmesan bonds; Horse Owner Complains Man Took Prize-Winning Selfie Without 'Consent'; and more.

Opening Bell: 4.19.16

Puerto Rico's bondholders feud over rescue; The top undergrad business schools will surprise you; Dad uses Millennium Falcon drone to remove daughter's tooth; and more.

Looking a little sadder than usual. Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Frankfurt am Main, Skulptur -Bulle & Bär- -- 2015 -- 6763” / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell 8.8.17

Google axes memo bro; Gundlach draws a line in the sand; Swedish banker regrets whipping it out; Driving bear poops in car; And more!