Opening Bell: 10.21.13

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J.P. Morgan Pact on Table But Other Probe Looms (WSJ)
JP Morgan Chase reached a tentative deal this weekend to pay $13 billion to end a number of civil investigations into its sale of mortgage securities before the 2008 financial crisis, but a separate and potentially more serious criminal probe into the bank and its executives will continue. The Justice Department, convinced it has strong evidence related to the bank's conduct and eager to send a message to Wall Street, rebuffed repeated attempts by J.P. Morgan to settle the criminal investigation without admitting wrongdoing and agreed only to resolve the civil investigations. It also threatened last Thursday to file its civil case this coming Wednesday if the two sides can't reach a final deal, said people close to the talks.

Former UBS Official Arrested (WSJ)
Raoul Weill, the former No. 3 official at UBS, has been arrested in Italy based on an Interpol notice requested by U.S. authorities, according to a U.S. official. The U.S. plans to seek his extradition from Italy to face charges of helping conceal billions of dollars from US tax authorities.

Dallas Mavericks owner blasts tactics of SEC’s White (NYP)
“It wasn’t about the money,” said Cuban, who emerged victorious Wednesday in Dallas federal court. “For me, it was about doing the right thing.” Indeed, Cuban has steadily denied the SEC’s key argument, that Mamma.com CEO Guy Fauré told Cuban he couldn’t sell his $7.9 million stake after discussing the company’s plans to raise money in a private stock offering that Cuban passed up. And now he’s fired up about the SEC and is considering “taking steps in Washington” to make his concerns known. “They’re not looking for justice, they’re looking to win,” he said of the watchdog. Cuban also slammed the SEC’s new policy of cracking down on small violations to send a message to the wider culture. The so-called “broken windows” policy, popularized by former mayor Rudy Giuliani to describe his cleanup of New York City, will just lead to lawsuits against “a lot of little guys,” he said.

The Tie Is Dead. (Long Live the Tie) (WSJ)
Anecdotal evidence from the corporate world varies. John Fraser, 51, managing partner of a real-estate investment firm in New York, often wears a tie with his suit, but not always. He has also noticed fewer tie-wearers among his colleagues and associates. "It seems like more of a personal choice, as opposed to several years ago when it was mandatory," said Mr. Fraser. "Now there's broader bandwidth of what represents acceptable business clothing." Patrick Sweeney, 36, however, wears a tie—Hermès, Etro or Salvatore Ferragamo—every day to his real estate job in midtown Manhattan. "I would get fired if I didn't," said Mr. Sweeney. "The head of the company wears a tie, so everyone else does as well." When not obliged to knot up, however, Mr. Sweeney doesn't wear one. "Generally, I find them uncomfortable and overly formal," he said.

Twitter Quitters Dog IPO (Reuters)
People who have given up on Twitter cite a variety of reasons, from lack of friends on the service to difficulty understanding how to use it. Twitter declined to comment for this story, saying it is in a quiet period ahead of its IPO. Twitter's attrition rate highlights a challenge that has dogged the online messaging site over the years: while it has managed to enlist many high-profile and avid users, from the Pope to President Barack Obama, Twitter has yet to go truly mainstream in the way Facebook has. Convincing ordinary people to think of Twitter as an indispensable part of their lives is key to the company's ability to attract advertisers and generate a profit. Twitter reported it had 232 million "active" users - people who access the service at least once a month - at the end of September, up 6.1 percent from the end of June. Twitter's quarter-over-quarter growth in active users has not exceeded 11 percent since June 2012. When Facebook was a similar size, its active users were increasing by more than 20 percent every quarter, and it was not until the social network neared the half-a-billion member mark that its user growth decelerated to 12 percent. "Twitter is a great service, it's still got growth in front of it. But in my opinion, I would say the opportunities are less than that of Facebook, and it has to be valued appropriately," said Dan Niles, chief investment officer of tech-focused hedge fund firm AlphaOne Capital Partners.

After extremely tight Jets victory over Patriots, male Jets fan punches female Pats fan in face (NYDN, Deadspin)
An unidentified Gang Green fan punched a woman at Met Life stadium during a post-game skirmish on Sunday, according to an video posted on Deadspin.com. The wild fight erupted near one of the exit gates following the intense overtime victory. The punk, wearing a Wayne Chrebet jersey and camouflage pants, clocked a slender blond woman square in the face and was quickly separated from the fracas. The 35-second clip shows no sign of security intervening. For the non-violent majority of Jets fans, the historic penalty that sealed Sunday’s victory was better than sex, capping a week in which coach Rex Ryan implored his players to refrain from hanky panky.

U.S. economy bruised by fiscal fight: Treasury Secretary (Reuters)
The U.S. economy has been hurt by a recent budget standoff in Washington and it is important that the nation does not go through another around of brinkmanship, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Sunday. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" program, Lew said he was confident the economy, which he described as resilient, would recover from the 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government. He described events leading to the shutdown, which eroded both business and consumer confidence, as a political crisis rather than an economic one. "We know that from the shutdown, there was a loss of economic activity," Lew said. "We need to make sure that government does not go through another round of brinkmanship. This can never happen again."

U.S. Banks Face Profit Squeeze (WSJ)
The 10 largest traditional commercial banks and securities firms in the U.S. that have reported earnings thus far posted a 6.9% decline in combined adjusted net income, to $17 billion. Adjusted revenue totaled $116 billion for the quarter, a 4.8% decrease from the same period in 2012.

The Man Who’ll Do Triage on Europe’s Banks (NYT)
Mr. Angeloni, 59, heads the European Central Bank’s financial stability division, giving him a lead role in a task about to begin: examining the books of the 130 or so largest banks in the 17 members of the European Union who use the euro. It will be financial triage aimed at determining which banks are sound and which are not...This week, Mr. Angeloni and other central bankers are expected to announce new details of the review process. The undertaking, at the behest of the European Union, is meant to place the big banks of Europe more directly under the supervision of the European Central Bank, instead of the current patchwork of national regulators.

Songwriter Spends Life Savings on Surgeries to Look Like Justin Bieber (Gawker)
LA-based "songwriter" Toby Sheldon idolizes Bieber to such an extent, that he spent the past five years and nearly $100,000 to turn his face into a shrine for the androgynous Canadian. Spurred by an acknowledged fear of aging, Sheldon says he's undergone multiple plastic surgeries, Aquamid injections, and hair transplants "to look like Justin." His last time under the knife back in July, Sheldon had the sides of his mouth extended in a controversial procedure known as "smile surgery." "It's Justin's smile that gives him his youthful look," Sheldon told the British tabloid Closer. That particular elective set Sheldon back some $15,000. "My smile surgery took more than a month to recover from," Sheldon recalled. "And, after my eyelid surgery, I couldn't open my eyes for a week." Still, Sheldon believes his investment has paid off. "My friends shower me with compliments," he says. "They even call me Toby Bieber."

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Opening Bell: 10.02.12

JPMorgan Sued On Mortgage Bonds (WSJ) New York's top prosecutor opened a new front in efforts to hold banks accountable for the financial crisis by filing a civil lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Chase, alleging widespread fraud by the company's Bear Stearns unit in the sale of mortgage-backed securities. The case is the first to be brought under the aegis of a group of federal and state prosecutors and regulators formed by President Barack Obama in January. If successful, the lawsuit could point the way to significantly more financial pain for the big banks, which face threatened government actions and numerous investor lawsuits tied to mortgage securities that soured in the crisis. Greece's Creditors Look Askance At Cutbacks (WSJ) Greece's international lenders cast doubt on parts of Athens' plans to save billions of euros through new cutbacks and tax measures, throwing a potential wrench in the government's efforts to reach a quick deal to unlock new aid for the country. The troika of Greece's international inspectors—the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank—rejected as much as €2 billion ($2.57 billion) of austerity measures, a senior finance ministry official said. Spain Adds $32 Billion Power-System Bailout to Bank Rescue (Bloomberg) After Spain’s rescue of its banks and cash-strapped regions, the 2013 budget reveals a bailout of the power industry to cover 25 billion euros ($32 billion) of debt accumulated by the electricity system. The spending blueprint released two days ago adds 100 billion euros to the nation’s debt from the rescue packages by the end of 2012, driving its ratio to gross domestic product up 16.8 percentage points to 85.3 percent of total output. Fed Chief Takes On Critics (WSJ) Some Republican lawmakers and foreign government officials say the Fed's policies, by lowering the U.S. government's borrowing costs, take pressure off the White House and Congress to restrain the growing deficit. "I find this argument unpersuasive," Mr. Bernanke said in a speech to the Economic Club of Indiana. "The responsibility for fiscal policy lies squarely with the administration and the Congress." Moreover, he said, "using monetary policy to try to influence the political debate on the budget would be highly inappropriate." Woman who chomped off boyfriend's testicles back in court for breaching non-contact order after he took her (NYDN) Martin Douglas required emergency surgery and 19 stitches to re-attach his scrotum after the drunken assault by his then-girlfriend Maria Topp. But after rekindling their unlikely romance Topp says she was 'stabbed in the back' by Mr Douglas after he reported her to police for breaching her restraining order. Topp, 45, admitted unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm as her trial at Newcastle Crown Court was about to start last October. The mother-of-four was handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, plus a restraining order which banned her from contacting Mr Douglas. However, after a ‘chance’ encounter in Newcastle in March this year, the pair got back together again. Topp, 45, had a ‘friendly chat’ with her ex-flame when they bumped into each other in Yates’ wine bar in the city centre. She then sent Mr Douglas a text asking ‘Do you still love me?’ Topp and Mr Douglas resumed their old relationship, which fizzled out again in June this year at which point Mr Douglas reported Topp’s breach of her restraining order. Merrill Plots Raid On Vulnerable Rival (WSJ) In a raid that stands out even in Wall Street's aggressive recruiting culture, Merrill Lynch is arming some managers with lists of top Morgan Stanley Wealth Management brokers who are considered ripe for defection, according to people familiar with the firm's recruiting. The so-called "mapping" of Morgan Stanley brokers shows the Bank of America Corp. unit is pushing to capitalize on technological and reputational blows at Morgan Stanley, according to these people. Morgan Stanley is coming off a tumultuous computer system conversion and Facebook's botched initial public offering, which has left investors nursing billions of dollars in losses. Merrill Lynch has enlisted some of its 11 market executives—regional managers who report to brokerage head John Thiel—to call top-grossing Morgan Stanley brokers. Those calls typically are made by lower-ranking workers such as branch managers, these people said. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has baby boy, becomes first-time mom (NYP) CEO Marissa Mayer is a mom after giving birth last night, her husband, Zachary Bogue, posted on Twitter. “Baby boy Bogue born last night. Mom (@marissamayer) and baby are doing great — we couldn’t be more excited!” Bogue tweeted this morning...Mayer has said she is taking a few weeks of “working” maternity leave and is expected to bring her son to work. Ex-Madoff Workers Face More Charges in Fraud Indictment (Bloomberg) Five longtime employees of Bernard Madoff’s former investment firm face more charges related to the jailed con man’s Ponzi scheme, which the government claims got its start in the 1970s. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan yesterday released a revised indictment expanding the charges against former Madoff employees Daniel Bonventre, Annette Bongiorno, Joann Crupi, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez. The indictment adds to the 17 criminal counts filed against the former employees in November 2010, for a total of 33 counts. Bacon Shortage Is ‘Overblown,’ Economists Say (ABC) If you started stocking your freezer with bacon to prepare for the upcoming pork shortage, you can start cooking some of it. Economists are telling consumers to expect a slight rise in price but not the “overblown” price increase in recent news reports. “It seems alarmist,” said Purdue University economist Christ Hurt, in response to the prediction that pork prices would double by the end of next year. While Hurt says pork prices might increase only 4 or 5 percent, though he notes that the drought has caused feed prices to go up sharply. “The one thing we don’t want to do is scare consumers,” he says, suggesting people try other types of meat if they are trying to save money.

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Opening Bell: 9.12.16

Hedge funds bleed assets while Bridgewater raises $22.5 billion; Lockhart wants 'serious' discussion of rate hike this month; Man accused of robbing Kansas bank to get away from wife;

Opening Bell: 05.14.12

JPMorgan Loss Claims Official Who Oversaw Trading Unit (NYTimes) The $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase will claim its first casualty among top officials at the bank as early as Monday, with chief executive Jamie Dimon set to accept the resignation of the executive who oversaw the trade, Ina R. Drew. Ms. Drew, a 55-year-old banker who has worked at the company for three decades and serves as chief investment officer, had repeatedly offered to resign since the scale of the loss became apparent in late April, but Mr. Dimon had held off until now on accepting it, several JPMorgan Chase executives said. Two traders who worked for Ms. Drew also planned to resign, JPMorgan Chase officials said. Her exit would mark a stunning fall from grace for one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, as well as a trusted lieutenant of Mr. Dimon...Former senior-level executives at JPMorgan said it was a shame that Ms. Drew has ended up suffering much of the fallout from the soured trade. They said that Thursday’s announcement of the $2 billion loss was the first real misstep that Ms. Drew has had and said that the position was not meant to drum up bigger profits for the bank, but rather to ensure that JPMorgan could continue to hold lending positions in Europe. “This is killing her,” a former JP Morgan executive said, adding “in banking there are very large knives.” Jamie Dimon: Trading Losses Are Not Life-Threatening (CNBC) “This is a stupid thing that we should never have done but we’re still going to earn a lot of money this quarter so it isn’t like the company is jeopardized,” he said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet with Press.” “We hurt ourselves and our credibility, yes — and that you’ve got to fully expect and pay the price for that.” Yahoo’s Thompson Out Amid Inquiry; Levinsohn Is Interim CEO (Bloomberg, earlier) Thompson, 54, was brought on to orchestrate a turnaround after Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. lured users and advertising dollars. Thompson’s undoing stems from erroneous biographical references to him as holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stonehill College. A former EBay Inc. (EBAY) executive, he earned a degree in accounting from the Easton, Massachusetts- based school, and the information is correctly listed in EBay regulatory filings and some Yahoo press releases. The incorrect degree showed up in Yahoo’s April 27 10-K filing, as well as on the company’s website. As part of the board changes, Daniel Loeb, chief executive officer of Third Point, joins as a director along with Harry Wilson and Michael Wolf. A fourth nominee, Jeffrey Zucker, said in today’s statement that he withdrew his nomination to allow a quick transition. Euro Officials Begin to Weigh Greek Exit (Bloomberg) Greek withdrawal “is not necessarily fatal, but it is not attractive,” European Central Bank Governing Council member Patrick Honohan said in Tallinn on May 12. An exit was “technically” possible yet would damage the euro, he said. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble reiterated in an interview in Sueddeutsche Zeitung that member states seeking to hold the line on austerity for Greece could not force the country to stay. LightSquared Moves Toward Bankruptcy Filing (WSJ) Hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone's LightSquared Inc. venture was preparing Sunday to file for bankruptcy protection after negotiations with lenders to avoid a potential debt default faltered, said people familiar with the matter. LightSquared and its lenders still have until 5 p.m. Monday to reach a deal that would keep the wireless-networking company out of bankruptcy court, and there were some indications over the weekend that a final decision hadn't yet been reached on its fate. Still, the two sides remained far apart, and people involved in the negotiations expected LightSquared to begin making bankruptcy preparations in earnest. Facebook cofounder living large in Singapore as he stiffs US for a possible $600M in taxes (NYP) Saverin is renouncing his US citizenship in favor of Singapore, the Southeast Asian city-state that has no capital-gains tax, where he has lived like royalty since 2009. The move already has saved him about $288 million in taxes, and will save him much more if he chooses to sell his $4 billion personal stake in Facebook, which goes public next week. “This pisses me off,” fellow tech-industry billionaire Mark Cuban spat on Twitter Friday upon hearing news of Saverin’s decision. Saverin’s spokesman has defended the move, claiming he has investments in the Far East, and Europe and the permanent move makes perfect sense. “Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” Saverin’s spokesman told Bloomberg. JPMorgan Unit's London Staff May Go as Loss Prompts Exits (Bloomberg) The entire London staff of JPMorgan Chase’s chief investment office is at risk of dismissal as a $2 billion trading loss prompts the first executive departures as soon as this week, a person familiar with the situation said. The firm is examining whether anyone in the unit, which employs a few dozen people in London, sought to hide risks, said the person, who requested anonymity because the deliberations are private. In Wake Of JPMorgan Loss, Rivals Fret About New Rules, Downgrades (WSJ) Over the weekend, rival banks scurried to explain why they believe a similar trading loss couldn't happen at their firm. Some companies pointed to moves already taken to reduce risk and sell off volatile and opaque assets such as derivatives on credit indexes. In a statement, Citigroup "has a small amount of straight-forward economic hedges managed at the corporate center to mitigate our credit exposure, principally relating to consumer loans." About half of that total is in cash, with most of the rest in U.S. Treasury bonds and other conservative investments. At Morgan Stanley, the portfolio most similar to J.P. Morgan's investment office is a $32 billion "available for sale" portfolio. The portfolio primarily consists of easily traded U.S. Treasury and government agency securities. It doesn't hold any derivatives instruments, a person familiar with Morgan Stanley's operations said. Goldman Sachs has no similar unit to the one at J.P. Morgan that suffered the loss. Apple Founder Wozniak to Buy Facebook Regardless of Price (Bloomberg) “I would invest in Facebook,” he said in an interview yesterday on Bloomberg Television. “I don’t care what the opening price is.” Missing: Stats on Crisis Convictions (WSJ) It is a question that has been asked time and again since the financial crisis: How many executives have been convicted of criminal wrongdoing related to the tumultuous events of 2008-2009? The Justice Department doesn't know the answer. That is because the department doesn't keep count of the numbers of board-level prosecutions. In a response earlier this month to a March request from Sen. Charles Grassley (R.,Iowa), the Justice Department said it doesn't hold information on defendants' business titles. "Consequently, we are unable to generate the [requested] comprehensive list" of Wall Street convictions stemming from the 2008 meltdown, the letter from the Department of Justice to Mr. Grassley said. Man Charged in Death Offers Victim's Foot for Deal (AP) A homeless man charged with killing and dismembering his friend says he can't remember much about the crime. But in a jailhouse interview, Leslie Sandoval told the Anderson Independent-Mail he remembers where he put the victim's missing left foot and is willing to tell a prosecutor if she will make him a deal. Sandoval says he went on a January drinking binge with Seth Foster. Foster's torso was found under an Anderson home, and his head, hands and right foot were found different places. Sandoval says he is confused about exactly what happened. But he disagrees with a coroner's finding he beat Foster and denies a claim from investigators that he confessed and gave them the knife used to dismember Foster.

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Opening Bell: 11.6.17

Goldman goes east; Saudi prince's arrest impacts Citi, Twitter investments; Wilbur Ross has a Putin problem; William Dudley to retire; and more.