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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Holiday Bell: 12.31.12

Cliff's Edge Draws Close (WSJ) What happens Monday could go some way to determining the short-term fate of the U.S. economy and the reputation of the government, both of which have been dinged by the spectacle of endless seemingly circular negotiations. Carrying the baton late into Sunday evening were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky) and Vice President Joe Biden. A spokesman for Mr. McConnell said Monday morning that the two men "will continue to work toward a solution." In the past two weeks, at least three different sets of negotiation teams have sought a way out...Still, some remained hopeful elements of a deal were on the table and could be brought into alignment at the last minute. "We're very close," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.). "It is like a kaleidoscope," meaning there are many moving parts that can look beautiful or ugly depending how they're arrayed. Experts Forecast The Cost Of Failure To Compromise (NYT) In the event no compromise is found, however,the Congressional Budget Office and many private economists warn that the sudden pullback in spending and the rise in taxes would push the economy into recession in the first half of the year. Under this outcome, Mr. Gault said, the economy could shrink by 0.5 percent over all of 2013. With the clock ticking, some observers bolstered their criticism of Washington. "If we have a recession, it's unforgivable," said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group. "For the first time in modern history, we will have a self-inflicted recession in the U.S." New Year's Countdown To Higher US Taxes Starts (Bloomberg) The IRS has said it will issue guidance by today on paycheck withholding for 2013, which depends on the income-tax rates Congress is debating. Higher rates would mean less take- home pay for workers starting as early as the first paycheck in January. Both Democrats and Republicans support extending current rates for families making less than $250,000. They disagree on whether to raise levies for top earners. Rates are scheduled to increase for all income levels Jan. 1 if Congress doesn’t act. Parties Pivot To Blame (WSJ) If Congress and the White House fail to strike a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, Republicans are under few illusions as to who will get much of the blame—even if past polls suggest there will be plenty to go around. "The poor Republicans will get the brunt of it, which may be unfair, but such is life," said Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a former White House budget chief under George W. Bush. "The Republicans are seen as the obstinate ones, where at the very least, the president and his side are equally so." Polls since the November election have found Americans more ready to blame the GOP than President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats if the two sides fail to reach a deal to avoid the wave of tax increases and spending cuts coming Jan. 1. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll earlier this month showed 24% would blame Republicans while 19% would blame Democrats. Merkel Says Euro Zone Crisis Far From Over (Reuters) FYI. Mario Batali wins biz feud over UK chef Gordon Ramsay (NYP, related, related) Batali says the prickly Brit star has agreed to give up on using the name The Spotted Pig for a London eatery — amid outcry that he had swiped it from Batali and his partners. “It didn’t make him look great,” Batali said of Ramsay’s recent trademarking of the name in the UK. “I don’t think it was an intentional shot across the bow by Gordon,” Batali told the Eater Vegas blog. “His team is just [trying] to build businesses. There’s got to be a thousand other animals they could have chosen besides The Spotted Pig. A striped minx, for example.” Experts Back Deutsche Whistleblowers (FT) Accounting experts say Deutsche Bank appears to have improperly accounted for billions of dollars of credit derivatives trades by failing to value adequately the risk that its trading counterparties could walk away. Jersey woman charged at boyfriend with hammer after he refuses to pay for laundry, reports say (NJ) Jazmin Duran, 24, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, criminal mischief, domestic violence, possession of weapon, unlawful possession of a weapon, resisting arrest police reports said. Police were called to Garfield Avenue near Armstrong Avenue at 2:52 p.m. on a report that a man was locked in the bathroom and his girlfriend was hitting the door with a hammer, reports said. When police arrived, the 49-year-old boyfriend, was still locked in the bathroom, reports said. After a brief struggle, police were able to detain Duran, reports said. When he came out he told police that Duran was mad at him and attacked him with a hammer, reports said. The victim said that he was undressing to get in the shower while talking to his girlfriend about getting her eyebrows done, when she asked for him to pay for doing her laundry, reports said. He responded that he didn't have money to pay for her laundry, reports said. He said she became irate and began to scream, reports said. BofA Settlement Hits Snags (WSJ) A big legal settlement usually marks the end of the bulk of the work for the Justice Department. But a year after a $335 million deal with Bank of America Corp. to compensate minority borrowers for alleged discrimination, much remains to be done. The department's settlement administrator just began notifying affected borrowers in November, about five months later than originally planned. Then, weeks after letters went out to more than 233,000 presumed victims, about 10% of those letters have been returned as undeliverable, according to Justice Department officials. U.S. officials had warned that it might take two years for eligible borrowers to receive money from the settlement, but they also expressed hope that checks could be mailed out sooner. Those hopes have dimmed. Facebook Analysts Stick To Script (WSJ) Facebook Inc. FB +1.03% has gotten a thumbs-down from investors since its initial public offering. But securities analysts who work at the investment banks that did the deal have never wavered in their enthusiasm. Since the social-networking company went public in May, analysts at Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs—Facebook's three biggest underwriters—have issued 40 reports on the stock. Every report has urged investors to buy. Skin In The Game (NYP) West Village cosmetic doctor Yelena Yeretsky usually works to make the power women of Wall Street look flawless. But now men are asking for her services. Yeretsky says, “The men usually want chemical peels so they look glowy. I remove lesions and skin tags and non-cancerous growths from years of playing golf in the sun.” French Court Says 75% Tax Rate on Rich Is Unconstitutional (Bloomberg) President Francois Hollande’s 75 percent millionaire-tax is unconstitutional because it fails to guarantee taxpayer equality, France’s top court ruled today. The tax, one of Hollande’s campaign promises, had become a focal point of discontent among entrepreneurs and other wealth creators, some of whom have quit French shores as a result. The ruling comes as the president seeks to cut France’s public deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product next year from a projected 4.5 percent this year. 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"When a champagne cork flies, you really have no time to react and protect your delicate eyes," Monica said in a statement. Programming Note: We're on an abbreviated, vacation-esque schedule. Opening wraps and brief updates should anything happen that people need to know about (fiscal cliff deal is struck, Raj Rajaratnam leads his fellow inmates in a NYE flashmob set to 'Thriller,' etc). Happy New Year and we'll see you in 2013!

Holiday Bell: 2.16.15

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Holiday Bell: 12.29.15

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