Opening Bell: 09.20.13

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JP Morgan Faces Hard-Line SEC (WSJ)
J.P. Morgan agreed to pay more than $920 million to settle with the SEC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve and the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority over a trading blunder that cost the bank more than $6 billion. Yet the SEC is continuing a civil investigation of individual employees of J.P. Morgan who are connected to the matter, according to people familiar with the probes. Also, the agency refused to negotiate the amount of the fine, according to people familiar with the proceeding. That represents an unusually tough stance by the SEC, regulatory experts said.

Not Lifting The Debt Ceiling Would Be 'Dumb': Buffett (Reuters)
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said that politicians not lifting the U.S. debt ceiling would be "pretty damn dumb" and viewed a prolonged political standoff on the issue as "disturbing." "The market is not going to fall apart," Buffett said in an interview aired on CNBC on Friday, because markets will only expect politicians to act irrationally for a certain length of time. Still, he called the possibility of such a debt standoff "disturbing."

Buffett Calls Federal Reserve History’s Greatest Hedge Fund (Bloomberg)
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett compared the U.S. Federal Reserve to a hedge fund because of the central bank’s ability to profit from bond purchases while accumulating a balance sheet of more than $3 trillion. “The Fed is the greatest hedge fund in history,” Buffett told students yesterday at Georgetown University in Washington. It’s generating “$80 billion or $90 billion a year probably” in revenue for the U.S. government, he said. “And that wasn’t the case a few years back.”

Monte Paschi seeks to avert nationalization with turnaround plan (Reuters)
Italy's scandal-hit Monte dei Paschi di Siena will next week unveil a drastic turnaround plan for the bank to meet European Union demands and try to lure investors in a make-or-break attempt to avoid nationalization. Italy's third biggest lender was brought close to financial collapse by the euro zone debt crisis and is engulfed in a judicial probe over its costly purchase of a rival in 2007 and loss-making derivative trades it made in the deal's aftermath. The bank, which took 4.1 billion euros ($5.5 billion) in state loans in February, has been told to beef up an already tough restructuring plan if it wants to win the European Union's approval for the bailout.

Zookeeper mauled to death by tiger (NYP)
A zookeeper in Germany was mauled to death by a tiger after the worker forgot to lock a cage door — and the ferocious cat pounced. The 56-year-old zookeeper was laying food outside the animal’s compound at Munster Zoo on Thursday, when the Siberian tiger crept up from behind and bit the worker’s throat, according to Germany’s The Local...Zoo chief Jörg Adler said staffers immediately called medics for help but it was too late. “An encounter like that with a tiger isn’t something that can be survived,” he said. The 10-year-old tiger, named Rasputin, won’t be put to sleep due to the attack, authorities said.

Buffett Plans to Hold BofA Warrants Until Close to 2021 Maturity (Bloomberg)
“We’ll exercise them probably the last month, which would be eight years or so from now,” Buffett, 83, told CNBC in an interview broadcast today. “There’s no reason to exercise them sooner. There would be if there were a high dividend on the common or something, so it’s conceivable. But basically we love the position of being an owner.”

Federal Reserve's Guidance Questioned (WSJ)
...some investors and analysts said the Fed's action was the latest in a series of communications missteps, demonstrated by the fact that numerous surveys showed investors broadly expected the central bank to move in September.

Glitch Blocked Goldman At Treasury Auction (WSJ)
A glitch in a computer system at the center of the $11.6 trillion market for U.S. government debt last week blocked Goldman Sachs Group' multibillion-dollar order at an auction of Treasury bills, leaving the bank empty-handed and altering prices in the U.S. debt market. The Treasury Department on Sept. 9 sold $30 billion of bills that mature in three months. Goldman was left out when its order didn't go through the computers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which conducts debt auctions for the Treasury. When Treasury officials noticed the botched order, they manually allotted Goldman more T-bills that mature in six months than the bank had asked for in a simultaneous auction.

Fat Cat No More: 42-Pound Texas Fat Feline Drops To 27 Pounds After Grueling Workout (NYDN)
The porky puss has lost almost half his body weight — a staggering 15 pounds — in just one year by stepping onto an underwater treadmill each morning. Skinny initially had trouble walking more than a few feet on land because his limbs couldn't sustain his weight. He was so fat that vets couldn't even decide whether he was a girl or a boy. But now the newly slim feline, who was found in a Richardson yard in September 2012, is fighting fit and enjoying the best days of his life.

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