Holiday Bell: 10.14.13

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Legal Bills Rising, Cohen Is Said to Plan Art Sales (Dealbook)
In recent months, as his legal troubles have deepened, the billionaire hedge-fund manager Steven A. Cohen has sold stocks to meet withdrawal requests from skittish investors. Now, in addition to stocks, Mr. Cohen is selling significant works of art from his celebrated collection. Mr. Cohen has put two major paintings by Andy Warhol and an abstract canvas by Gerhard Richter up for sale, according to art experts familiar with his holdings who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Sotheby’s will auction the works at next month’s contemporary art auction in New York. The two Warhols, both painted in 1963, are “Liz #1 (early Colored Liz),” an image of Elizabeth Taylor on a bright yellow background estimated to sell for $20 million to $30 million, and “5 Deaths on Turquoise (Turquoise Disaster),” thought to bring in $7 million to $10 million. Sotheby’s featured the Warhols last week at the Katara Art Center in Doha, Qatar, where it was showing upcoming highlights from next month’s event.

U.S. Risks Joining 1933 Germany in Pantheon of Deadbeats (Bloomberg)
Reneging on its debt obligations would make the U.S. the first major Western government to default since Nazi Germany 80 years ago. Germany unilaterally ceased payments on long-term borrowings on May 6, 1933, three months after Adolf Hitler was installed as Chancellor. The default helped cement Hitler’s power base following years of political instability as the Weimar Republic struggled with its crushing debts. “These are generally catastrophic economic events,” said Professor Eugene N. White, an economics historian at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “There is no happy ending.”

Dimon Exceeds Mentor Sandy Weill in Legal Costs (Bloomberg)
Facing probes into mortgage bonds, energy trading and hiring practices in Asia, JPMorgan took a $7.2 billion charge on Oct. 11 for expenses tied to regulatory matters and litigation, bringing the total the bank has set aside or spent since the start of 2010 to $28 billion. Weill’s tenure at Citigroup ended up leaving the bank with at least $5.5 billion in legal costs, then the most in history for a Wall Street firm.

U.S. Trio Wins Nobel Prize in Economics (WSJ)
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on Monday honored Eugene Fama and Lars Peter Hansen of the University of Chicago and Robert Shiller of Yale, citing the trio's "empirical analysis of asset prices." Messrs. Fama, Shiller and Hansen, who have researched separately how stocks and bonds are priced and why, won for advances that have reshaped portfolio management, given rise to the index fund and created a fundamental tool used in econometric analysis.

Buffett protégé caught in CEO sex mess (NYP)
Tracy Britt — a 29-year-old exec who is chairman of the billionaire’s Benjamin Moore brand — was forced to fire the paint company’s CEO last month amid allegations that he had harassed female employees, The Post has learned. To make the situation even stickier, insiders said the ousted CEO, Bob Merritt, a 61-year-old veteran of the restaurant industry, is the husband of Britt’s close friend Jill Dilosa, a 36-year-old Wall Street investor. “Things have gotten way too cozy at the top for Warren and his cronies, and now it’s biting them on the bottom,” said one source close to the situation. Indeed, Dilosa — an investing prodigy who was featured on the TV reality series “Wall Street Warriors” in 2006 — attended Britt’s wedding last month in Omaha, Neb., according to sources.

Twitter Squeeze Banks On IPO (WSJ)
The fees banks are set to collect for selling the shares—at 3.25% of the money raised, said people familiar with the deal—would be the lowest percentage paid on a U.S.-listed IPO in more than a year, according to Ipreo, a capital-markets data and advisory firm. What's more, the microblogging service is nearing completion of a $1 billion credit line from its bankers that it can use to help finance its growth, the people said. The credit is arriving even as Twitter is seen by some analysts as a riskier credit bet than some other Internet companies that went public in recent years.

Dan Aykroyd throws TV tantrum (NYP)
��Blues Brothers” star Dan Aykroyd reportedly stormed off the set of an Australian talk show on Thursday, trailing ­F-bombs out the door, after the host wouldn’t let him plug a vodka brand he co-owns. The original “Saturday Night Live” alumnus, 61, also called host Ellen Fanning a “f–king hosebag” as he barged down the street in fury at not being allowed to promote his Crystal Head vodka, despite assurances before the interview that he could,the Daily Telegraph reported. Meanwhile, the host and executive producer of “The Observer Effect” declined requests from higher-ups to apologize to Aykroyd, insisting that it’s he who owes the apology.

Franco-German divisions cloud efforts to fix broken banks (Reuters)
Bank health checks by the European Central Bank are a critical step in establishing a single banking framework for the euro zone, giving credibility to ECB supervision and paving the way for the bloc to cooperate on saving bust banks. But even before ministers from the 17-nation currency area met in Luxembourg, France's finance minister accused Germany of holding up progress on banking union to protect its own 'strange' financial system of regional banks that are "deeply intertwined ... with local political circles".

Rich hedge funders to poor: We feel your pain (NetNet)
"The inequality of income is unprecedented, particularly if you look at the median wage and the top 1 percent wage," Richard Robb, co-founder and CEO of $1.8 billion hedge fund firm Christofferson, Robb & Co., said last week at a Wall Street Journal conference in New York. "There's just a growing sense that post-crisis, post-'08, that the game isn't fair," Jim Chanos, founder of $5 billion hedge fund firm Kynikos Associates, added at the same event. "We went out of our way to protect the financial economy and gave short shrift to other parts." John Arnold, a 39-year-old billionaire former hedge fund manager who now focuses on philanthropy, was so fed up with the government shutdown and its effect on poor children that he gave $10 million last week to reopen Head Start centers.

Regional Fed Bosses Struggle With Communication Issue (WSJ)
Some see a central bank conveying as much as it can, in uncertain times. Others fear markets see a hidden subtext to central-bank comments that doesn’t in fact exist. Others think the Fed is simply doing a bad job at managing expectations and believe the process needs a significant overhaul.

New breed conservatives 'anti-democratic': Parsons (CNBC)
With the debt ceiling deadline looming and the government shutdown now in Day 14, the problem in Washington is a "case of massive dysfunction and lack of leadership," former Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons told CNBC on Monday. "It's sad. There's no good story you can tell. There's nothing that you say, 'At least out of this will come X or Y or Z,'" he contended in a "Squawk Box" interview. The stalemate after a weekend of negotiations reflects "narrow-focused" partisan politics, said Parsons, who served as a member of then President-elect Barack Obama's economic transition team in 2008. "It's never one guy's fault," he said, adding that there's a "new breed of politician. A lot of the highly conservative element that's come in … are actually anti-democratic." "The will of the people, … which is a founding principle of this country, is no longer relevant," Parsons said.

How Credit Suisse underwent painful bond surgery -and survived (Reuters)
In spring 2009, senior Credit Suisse executive Gaël de Boissard told colleagues at a strategy meeting that as the bank reshaped its bond trading business, they needed to remember the five stages of grief outlined decades ago by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Denial would come first, followed by anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance, he said. "It is hard to be present in every business line in a world where capital is expensive. You have to make some choices," de Boissard, now co-head of the Credit Suisse investment bank, said in an interview.

Mr. Softee sex-slur by cop caught on tape (NYDN)
An Internet video appears to show a female uniformed city cop arguing with an ice cream man over a summons she gave him and then lashing the vendor with a crude sexual taunt. The cop ticketed the Mr. Softee driver for working in a no-parking zone on W. 34th St. near Macy’s over the summer, said the Street Vendor Project, which put the video on YouTube on Thursday. The vendor recorded part of the incident with his cell phone , the group said. “Go for it, I don’t care,” the cop said, and then danced in a circle with her arms raised. “You’re a maniac!” the vendor said. “What is wrong with you?” “What is wrong with you?” the cop fired back. “Bl*w me, bl*w me! Bl*w me.”

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