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Opening Bell: 11.20.13

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Bernanke: Fed committed to easy policy for as long as needed (Reuters)
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday the Fed will maintain ultra-easy U.S. monetary policy "for as long as needed" and will only begin to taper bond buying once it is assured that labor market improvements would continue. In a speech to the National Economists Club that echoed dovish comments by his nominated successor, Janet Yellen, Bernanke also said that while the economy had made significant progress, it was still far from where officials wanted it to be. "The FOMC remains committed to maintaining highly accommodative policies for as long as they are needed," he said in prepared remarks, referring to the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.

Dimon Says He’s Surprised by Probe Costs Tied to Bear Stearns (Bloomberg)
JP Morgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, who reached a $13 billion settlement to resolve mortgage-bond disputes, said he was surprised by costs tied to the purchase of Bear Stearns Cos. “It was a house on fire, it was imploding,” Dimon said today on a conference call when asked about how he views the 2008 acquisition. “We did it because we were asked to. We never expected this kind of stuff to happen.”

Moynihan Brings BofA Shares Back to Where He Started as CEO (Bloomberg)
“It’s a bit of a milestone, they’re getting past some of their legacy issues and are able to focus on growing the company,” says Jonathan Finger, whose family-owned investment firm, Finger Interests Ltd., owns 1.1 million Bank of America shares. “We certainly hoped it would’ve happened faster.”

Jury Selection Begins in SAC Insider Trading Trial (Dealbook)
The first group of potential jurors was a mixed lot, including one young man who said he had participated in Occupy Wall Street and is an actor and people who had themselves been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many in the pool disclosed that they had ties to Wall Street. Two said they were employed or had been employed by a hedge fund, while one man said he was the head of a small investment bank and a handful of people gave the details of their indirect ties to the financial world. One woman said she had once worked for Julian Robertson, the founder of the hedge fund Tiger Management, and one man told the judge his friend’s daughter was dating a compliance officer at SAC Capital. Many of the questions reflected the tedium of the administrative process as Judge Sullivan went through all manner of questions to determine any biases among the jurors. There was a comic moment when one juror, a tax lawyer, said he had strong views about the Internal Revenue Service. “That’s a shocker,” Judge Sullivan shot back. Within the group, two jurors had been investigated by the S.E.C., while the juror who said his friend’s daughter was dating an SAC employee said he had a very strong bias against the commission.

‘Selfie’ beats out ‘twerk’ as word of the year (NYP)
“Selfie” – a self portrait usually on a smartphone or webcam – was selected word of the year on Tuesday by the Oxford Dictionaries, based on a 17,000 percent rise in its usage from a year ago. “Selfie” was chosen after it “gained momentum throughout the English-speaking world in 2013 as it evolved from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait photograph”, Oxford Dictionaries said in a statement. The spike in popularity of the word, whose origin can be traced back to an Australian online forum in 2002, was based on “language research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors”, the publisher said. “Selfie” beat a number of other buzzwords of 2013, including “twerk” referring to dancing in a sexually provocative manner and which was popularized by singer Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards last August. “The Word of the Year need not have been coined within the past 12 months and it does not have to be a word that will stick around for a good length of time,” Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, said. “It is very difficult to predict accurately which new words will have staying power, and only time will tell if these words have lasting significance,” she added.

Volcker Rule Faces New Hurdles (WSJ)
At the SEC, a newly installed Democratic commissioner, Kara Stein, has raised a number of concerns about the current version of the rule, which has been under discussion for three years. Ms. Stein, a former congressional staffer who helped draft the Dodd-Frank law, believes the rule allows banks to sidestep its purpose, people familiar with her views said...CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler, meanwhile, has told officials working on the rule he is concerned that it doesn't crack down hard enough on proprietary trading, an activity banned by the Volcker rule, named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Mr. Gensler didn't respond to a request for comment.

Murdoch Said to Be Close to Reaching Divorce Settlement (Bloomberg)
The couple have a prenuptial agreement and the settlement talks have been fairly amicable, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. Wendi Murdoch will keep the couple’s Fifth Avenue residence as part of the settlement.

Is Ballmer Leaving? Few Signs at Shareholder Meeting (Digits)
In a roughly 20-minute speech before hundreds of shareholders, Ballmer gushed about Microsoft products like the new Xbox One videogame machine and Surface tablets. He talked up his strategy of making Microsoft a big player in consumer devices like smartphones, and as a broad supplier of Web-friendly software and technology backbone for businesses. There was little news on the search for Ballmer’s successor. Microsoft Co-Founder and Chairman Bill Gates said he and three other directors on the search committee have been “doing a lot of meetings” with potential CEO candidates, and are “pleased with the progress.” But, Gates added, “I’m not going to give a timetable today” on naming Ballmer’s replacement.

My First Double Bl*w Job, by Rebecca Martinson (Vice, earlier)
"If you’ve used the internet in the last seven months, you know who I am. If you’ve noticed a sudden resurgence of the term 'c*nt punt' in daily conversation, if you’ve watched the Michael Shannon video where he spits off enough swear words to make his parents spin in their graves like hurricanes, or if you’re one of the lucky souls who were matched up with me on Tinder, you know who I am. I'm Rebecca Martinson, the so-called deranged sorority girl...The first semester of freshman year, Kiki and I drove up from Virginia Tech, where we had been partying, to spend a couple of nights blacking out at UMD, where I actually go to school. I told Kiki I’d give her a free bottle of Burnett's if she blew my boyfriend. A handle of Burnett's costs around $15, which was about $2.6 million to us, considering we were college freshman who had no clue how to budget and had already spent $900 drunk-eating Papa John's in one semester. To us, cheap-ass liquor was like golden liquid inside a diamond-encrusted bottle. Who wouldn't suck a d*ck for that?"