Opening Bell: 11.14.13

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JPMorgan Twitter Hashtag Trends Against Bank (Bloomberg)
JPMorgan Chase, the target of at least eight Justice Department investigations, was mocked and taunted by Twitter users after asking followers to send questions to an executive using the hashtag #AskJPM. The online forum, which the bank canceled late yesterday, was intended in part to give college students an opportunity to communicate directly with a senior executive, said Brian Marchiony, a spokesman for the New York-based company. “#Badidea! Back to the drawing board,” the bank posted less than six hours after its original post, which drew more than 6,000 responses from users in that span, according to social media tracking service Topsy...JPMorgan’s call for questions provoked jeers from Twitter users, who responded with sarcastic posts about the bank’s mounting legal woes. “Can I have my house back?” @AdamColeman4 posted. “Is it true ‘JPM stands for ‘Just Pay More’?’’ asked @SconsetCapital.

Yellen Signals Further Fed Assistance Going Into Hearing (WSJ)
Janet Yellen will report strong economic progress when she goes before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday, in her confirmation hearing for the top post at the Federal Reserve. The U.S. economy has grown "significantly stronger" since the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession, but it still needs help from the Fed as it continues to mend, Ms. Yellen will tell senators, according to prepared remarks released Wednesday. "We have made good progress, but we have farther to go to regain the ground lost in the crisis and the recession," Ms. Yellen, the Fed vice chairwoman, will say in her opening statement.

Taper likely in next couple of months: Morgan Stanley (CNBC)
A tapering in the U.S. Federal Reserve's massive stimulus is the right thing to do against the backdrop of a recovery economy and a scaling back of the stimulus program can be expected in the next couple of months, Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO James Gorman told CNBC on Thursday. "Every now and then, markets behave like schoolchildren. They overreact, they run around like crazy. We know we're going to have tapering, we know we are living in an artificial state of excess liquidity right now and it's happening because the economy is recovering," he said.

Woman With German Wise Men Weder di Mauro Wins Euro Bet (Bloomberg)
Beatrice Weder di Mauro, who made her name by being an expert on debt, can’t collect on one of her own: Nouriel Roubini owes her a bottle of Champagne for a 2012 bet they made about whether Greece would leave the euro. It didn’t, and she won. “We see one another from time to time,” she said of business professor and author Roubini, a frequent fellow panelist at international conferences. “And then we always say, ‘Champagne!’” Roubini, for his part, swears he’ll pay up “next time I run into her.” Swiss-born Weder di Mauro, 48, was the first woman ever to serve on the German chancellor’s council of economic advisers, known as the “wise men.

JPMorgan’s Fruitful Ties to a Member of China’s Elite (NYT)
To promote its standing in China, JPMorgan Chase turned to a seemingly obscure consulting firm run by a 32-year-old executive named Lily Chang. Ms. Chang’s firm, which received a $75,000-a-month contract from JPMorgan, appeared to have only two employees. And on the surface, Ms. Chang lacked the influence and public name recognition needed to unlock business for the bank. But what was known to JPMorgan executives in Hong Kong, and some executives at other major companies, was that “Lily Chang” was not her real name. It was an alias for Wen Ruchun, the only daughter of Wen Jiabao, who at the time was China’s prime minister, with oversight of the economy and its financial institutions. JPMorgan’s link to Ms. Wen — which came during a time when the bank also invested in companies tied to the Wen family — has not been previously reported. Yet a review by The New York Times of confidential documents, Chinese public records and interviews with people briefed on the contract shows that the relationship pointed to a broader strategy for accumulating influence in China: Put the relatives of the nation’s ruling elite on the payroll.

Bitcoin Couple Travels the World Using Virtual Cash (WSJ)
"In bitcoin," Austin Craig repeated to the young woman behind the counter at the Lean Crust Pizza parlor in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. "Can we pay in bitcoin?" "In what?" came the reply. Mr. Craig, 30 years old, was struggling to convince Nadia Alamgir of the existence of the virtual currency that has gained traction across the world, and whose value—after months of wild swings—on Wednesday reached records around $400 per bitcoin. It was midway through a tricontinental odyssey taken with his wife, Beccy Bingham-Craig, 29, and a film crew documenting their travails, which started in Provo, Utah. Their mission: to live on bitcoin alone. "It's been consistently inconvenient and occasionally frustrating," Mr. Craig said outside Lean Crust, "but never impossible." Lean Crust advertised itself as bitcoin-friendly but hadn't seen much virtual foot traffic. Ms. Alamgir eventually contacted the store's owner, who arrived and processed the transaction, allowing Mr. Craig to munch on several slices...In Stockholm, they went hungry the first night. In Singapore, Ms. Binghman-Craig got a henna tattoo. At every stop, Mr. Craig said, they found at least one bitcoiner willing to help...In the end, despite skepticism from friends, family and the bitcoin community itself, the Craigs managed to live on bitcoin for over three months. "We really didn't cheat," Mr. Craig said. "Everybody thought we would."

Greece must step up effort to find 2014 budget gap financing: Eurogroup head (Reuters)
Greece must step up efforts to reach an agreement with international lenders on how to close a 2 billion euro ($2.68 billion) financing gap in its 2014 budget, the head of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Thursday. A team of officials from the troika of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank visits Athens regularly to check on progress on its bailout commitments and decide whether to release subsequent loan tranches, without which Greece would default. The latest inspection began in September but was paused, only to resume on Nov 4 after Athens provided the lenders with information enabling them to discuss the financing of the 2014 budget. But the talks have made no progress since then. "It's crucial that Greece steps up a little bit their efforts in order for us to reach an agreement," Dijsselbloem told reporters ahead of a meeting of euro zone ministers.

Goldman Sachs’ Cohen Sees Value in Record-High Stocks (Bloomberg)
Value remains in the U.S. stock market even after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) surged 25 percent this year to a record, according to Abby Joseph Cohen, a senior investment strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Price-earnings ratios are lower now than the last time stocks were near these levels, Cohen said in a Bloomberg Radio interview with Tom Keene today. Janet Yellen is one of the finest policy analysts in the U.S. and deserves to be confirmed as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, said Cohen. She forecasts the S&P 500 will reach 1,900 by the end of 2014, a 6.6 percent gain from today’s close. “Companies right now are increasingly enthusiastic about the dynamism in the economy,” said Cohen. “There’s value in the market right now. The U.S. economy will likely grow faster next year.”

IPO Market Shows Signs Of Cooling (WSJ)
Twitter's 's $2.1 billion IPO was the only one of 13 last week that priced above the listing company's expectations, representing 8% of that week's deals. In contrast, 23% of all U.S.-listed IPOs in 2013 through last week priced above projections. Furthermore, investors have been less aggressive in buying shares once they hit the market. November's IPOs through Tuesday posted an average opening-day gain of 18%—a smaller pop than the average for any full month since May, according to University of Florida professor Jay Ritter, who tracks IPOs.

Barbara Walters steals the scene at 'Hunger Games' screening with chatter, orders and questions (NYDN)
The soon-to-be-retired Walters, 84, had four, yes four, assistants on hand to talk her through the very intricate plot of the second installment of the hit franchise. And also, of course, to wipe her spectacles as well. “She was so rude and entitled,” reports our spy. “She was there with, like, four lackeys who completely bowed to her. Having someone there to clean your glasses is nuts. During the movie she talked through the entire thing with one assistant.” “Every time someone came onscreen, she’d say out loud, ‘Who’s that?’ Then an assistant would fill her in,” says our source. “She even asked, ‘Is that Jennifer Lawrence?,’ which is weird considering she was probably watching the movie in preparation for an interview.” As for the plot of the hit trilogy installment, Babs just couldn’t keep it straight. “She couldn’t understand any of the plot twists and would ask ‘What’s going on?’ every five seconds. It was crazy. Even when characters reappeared on screen after having shown up 20 minutes earlier, she’d be like, ‘Who’s that?’ ”

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