Opening Bell: 01.23.14 - Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 01.23.14

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Pimco's Bill Gross Seeks Push Beyond Bonds (WSJ)
A day after his partner at the top of Pacific Investment Management Co. stepped down, Bill Gross said he wants to double down on its efforts to turn into much more than a bond shop. His goal: to reduce the giant asset manager's reliance on bonds and raise its exposure to stocks. The firm, with nearly $2 trillion under management, has faltered in previous efforts to make this shift. The 69-year-old Mr. Gross said he relished the opportunity. He dismissed suggestions that Mohamed El-Erian, who was Pimco's chief executive and co-chief investment officer, resigned Tuesday because he didn't see a path to succeeding Mr. Gross. "I didn't want Mohamed to go but now that he is going, I am ready" to push the firm toward new growth areas, Mr. Gross said in an interview.

JPMorgan CEO Dimon says government cases were 'unfair' (Reuters)
JP Morgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said on Thursday that government legal cases, including those over mortgage securities the company settled for more than $13 billion, were "unfair". Dimon, speaking on CNBC in a pre-recorded interview from Davos, Switzerland, said most of the government claims against the company were for dealings that took place at companies before JPMorgan bought them in the financial crisis. "I think a lot of it was unfair, but I am not going to go into the details," Dimon said in the television interview.

Doctor Goes Toe To Toe With Martoma Lawyer (NYP)
A feisty Dr. Sidney Gilman gave the lawyer for accused inside trader Mathew Martoma a run for his money — taking issue a number of times with how lawyer Richard Strassberg framed his questions. Gilman even told Strassberg his questions sounded more like declarative sentences. At another point, the 81-year old doctor took back one of his answers — which went beyond what Strassberg asked — saying it was a “moot point.” Later, as Strassberg got his first crack at the government’s key witness against his client, Judge Paul Gardephe intervened, asking the lawyer to refrain from asking questions with “compound clauses.”

Germany, France attack EU plan to curb big banks (Reuters)
Germany and France have attacked European Union plans to curb big banks, warning that this could jeopardize a delicate economic recovery, a paper seen by Reuters showed. Next week, the European Commission will unveil a blueprint to challenge the power of big banks, tackling one of the biggest risks exposed by the 2007-2009 financial crisis. The paper does not bear an author's name but five financial industry and government sources told Reuters that Germany and France, together with Italy, were behind it. It sends a warning shot from the euro zone's top economies to Brussels not to overstep the mark in a way that could challenge their national champions, such as Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) or BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA).

Bieber unleashes F-bomb rant before arrest for drag racing while stoned (NYP)
The celeb’s crew allegedly used their cars to block traffic on Pine Tree Drive at 26th Street in a residential neighborhood at 4:30 a.m. to create a drag strip where the star could race rapper buddy Crazy Khalil, police said. Bieber was allegedly incoherent and spewing F-bombs when he was busted. “Why did you stop me?” Bieber said, according police reports. “Why the f–k are you doing this?” When an officer asked Bieber to place his hands on his car’s rooftop for a routine pat down, the little guy flipped out, according to cops. “What the f–k did I do, why did you stop me,” he allegedly whined again. “I ain’t got no f–king weapons, why do you have to search me? What the f–k is this about?” After Bieber allegedly refused to comply with the pat down, cops said they had no choice to but to arrest him. “I grabbed his right hand and stated to him that he was under arrest,” police officer Fulgencio Medina wrote.

Icahn’s EBay Talks Show Boards Listening to Activists (Bloomberg)
Corporate directors, who for years often dismissed activist investors as quick-profit seeking gadflys, are starting to listen when opinionated shareholders like Carl Icahn, Nelson Peltz and Mason Morfit come calling. EBay Inc. (EBAY) pre-empted a public lashing from Icahn yesterday by disclosing his proposal to spin off its PayPal unit before he did. Peltz on Jan. 21 was invited to join the board of Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ), the food maker he once urged to merge with PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) The same day, Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) said it welcomes “all constructive input” as Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC took a stake and called for it to spin off a petrochemical business.

Senator delves deeper into Herbalife’s business practices (NYP)
Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey is asking for more information about the business practices of nutrition supplement company Herbalife, which has been accused of running a pyramid scheme by hedge fund manager William Ackman. Markey sent letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and to Herbalife itself to try an obtain more information, his office said in a news release on Thursday.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Hover Near Lowest in Over a Month (Bloomberg)
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits held near a six-week low, showing firings remain muted following the holidays. Jobless claims rose by 1,000 to 326,000 in the period ended Jan. 18, Labor Department data showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected 330,000. Applications for one state and the District of Columbia were estimated and there were no other unusual circumstances, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data were released.

Good with people? Willing to capture crocodile, if needed? Apply now! (CNN)
The state of Florida is advertising for crocodile response agents to handle complaints from residents and, in the relatively rare event it is necessary, to capture and move crocs. Training will be provided. The addition of more agents comes amid the encouraging rebound of the American crocodile in Florida -- an estimated 2,000 non-hatchlings, up from about 300 in the mid-1970s -- and the accompanying rise in complaint calls. "(The crocodile) is moving back into places where they have not been seen in decades," said Lindsey Hord, crocodile response coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "That is obviously resulting in conflict." The program currently has nine agents who serve as "eyes and ears" on the crocodile population, responding to calls and patiently listening to residents unhappy with what they consider reptilian encroachment. The job pays $25 an hour, including vehicle expenses. "It is not something you do for the money," said Hord, adding the hiring process weeds out those who do not live close to where the work will take them.

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Opening Bell: 06.11.12

Nasdaq CEO Lost Touch Amid Facebook Chaos (WSJ) At the end of Facebook's disastrous first day of trading May 18, the phone in Robert Greifeld's New York office rang. It was Mary Schapiro, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, wanting an explanation from the chief executive of Nasdaq OMX Group for the epidemic of glitches and delays in one of the most anticipated initial public offerings ever. Mr. Greifeld couldn't talk. Having monitored the rocky process from Silicon Valley, where he had gone to join Facebook executives in remotely ringing the market's opening bell, he concluded the worst problems were fixed and caught a noon flight back to the East Coast. So, marooned for almost five hours in business class with a phone he says didn't work, he didn't realize that continuing breakdowns at his exchange had left countless investors not knowing how many Facebook shares they had bought or sold and at what price, nor did he know the SEC chief wanted to reach him. Three weeks later, Mr. Greifeld still isn't sure why technology systems failed during the crucial IPO. Nasdaq's failure to see the problem coming is something its engineers are still dissecting. "You wake up, you turn around, and there's a black or dull spot," Mr. Greifeld said in an interview, sucking on Life Savers candy at a conference table in his office. "You can't get away from it." Spain’s Bailout Gives Rajoy Best Chance To Fix Banks (Bloomberg) Spain’s request for as much as 100 billion euros ($125 billion) of European bailout funds may provide the country with enough money to shore up its banking system after three failed attempts in as many years. “Now that they have this money, it will hopefully finally be possible to recognize all the hidden losses and clean up the system,” Luis Garicano, a professor at the London School of Economics, said in a phone interview. The amount sought is about 2.7 times the funds deemed necessary for Spanish banks by the International Monetary Fund in a report released June 8 and five times the total requested by the Bankia group, the country’s third-biggest lender, to cleanse its balance sheet. Spain's economic misery will get worse this year despite bailout request, prime minister says (NYP) A day after the country conceded it needed outside help following months of denying it would seek assistance, Rajoy said more Spaniards will lose their jobs in a country where one out of every four are already unemployed. "This year is going to be a bad one," Rajoy said Sunday in his first comments about the rescue since it was announced the previous evening by his economy minister. IPOs Dry Up Post Facebook (WSJ) In the aftermath of Facebook's botched trading debut, the IPO market has gone three weeks without an offering, the longest drought in five months. It is the slowest stretch in initial public offerings since a four-week span at the end of 2011 and the beginning of this year, according to data from Ipreo. Greece Threatens Wall Street Jobs In Third Trading Plunge (Bloomberg) For a third consecutive year, revenue from investment banking and trading at U.S. firms may fall at least 30 percent from the first quarter, Richard Ramsden, a Goldman Sachs analyst, said in a note last week. Greece, which gave English the word “cycle,” has been the main reason each year that the second quarter soured after a promising first three months. Nickelback Review Goes Viral (Poynter) Music critic Josh Gross has written hundreds of stories about bands, but none has brought him as much attention as the brief he wrote this week about Nickelback’s upcoming appearance in Idaho, where Gross writes for the Boise Weekly. He summarizes the response: "In the past day, I have been told that I am a genius, a king amongst men and a hack that could be easily outdone by a one-armed cat. I should alternately win the Pulitzer and forcibly insert 45 pickles into my bum. There has been little middle ground. Why? Because I had the audacity to point out that seeing Canadian “rock” band Nickelback at the Idaho Center may not be the best use of one’s $45." Gross wrote of the Nickelback: "You can spend $5 to go see Nickelback this week. Or you could buy 45 hammers from the dollar store, hang them from the ceiling at eye level and spend an evening banging the demons out of your dome...$45 is also enough to see Men In Black III five times, buy a dozen Big Macs, do 10 loads of laundry or so many other experiences as banal and meaningless as seeing Nickelback but come without actually having to hear Nickelback. But if you must, the band is playing The Idaho Center on Wednesday, June 13, at 6PM tickets start at $45." Dimon Faces Washington Grilling Over Trading Debacle (Reuters) The Senate Banking Committee has asked Dimon to come prepared Wednesday to provide "a thorough accounting of the trading losses," a committee aide said. Senators will also ask what he knew about the risks involved in the trading strategy. Fed Colleague Backs Dimon (WSJ) "I do not think he should step down," Lee Bollinger said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He said Mr. Dimon appears to have done nothing wrong, that critics attacking the Fed have a "false understanding" of how it works, and that it is "foolish" to say Mr. Dimon's presence on the New York Fed board creates an appearance of a conflict when the law requires bankers to serve on such boards. Private lunch with investor Warren Buffett sells for $3.5 million (WaPo) The previous four winning bids have all exceeded $2 million with records set every year. Last year’s winner, hedge fund manager Ted Weschler, paid $2,626,411. India Could Be First BRIC to Lose Investment Grade: S&P (Reuters) Standard & Poor's said on Monday that India could become the first of the so-called BRIC economies to lose its investment grade status, sending the rupee and stocks lower, less than two months after cutting its rating outlook for the country. "Slowing GDP growth and political roadblocks to economic policymaking are just some of the factors pushing up the risk that India could lose its investment-grade rating," the ratings agency said in a statement issued Monday on a report dated June 8. Town Considers Fines For Cursing (WSJ) Mimi Duphily was hanging baskets of pink geraniums on antique street lamps downtown for the Middleborough Beautification and Activities Group when she noticed something else that needed cleaning up—citizens' mouths. "The cursing has gotten very, very bad. I find it appalling and I won't tolerate it," said Ms. Duphily, a civic leader in the otherwise quiet New England community, which calls itself the Cranberry Capital of the World. "No person should be allowed to talk in that manner." Soon, Middleborough residents who do could risk a $20 fine. Ms. Duphily, 63 years old, tried scolding the cursers—whom she describes as young people shouting the "F word" back and forth—with a stern, "Hey kids, that's enough!" Then she conferred with the Beautification and Activities Group, which informed the Middleborough Business Coalition, which then called a summit with Middleborough Police Chief Bruce Gates, who now, in his sworn role, is trying to stomp out swears.

Opening Bell: 11.27.12

Greece's Creditors Reach Aid Deal (WSJ) struck a deal in Brussels to cut Greece's debt to a level below 124% of gross domestic product by 2020, officials said. To satisfy IMF concerns that Greece's debt must fall even more to be considered "sustainable," euro-zone ministers agreed to bring the government's debt to under 110% of GDP in 2022. The deal will allow Greece to receive loan payments of about €44 billion ($57 billion) to be paid in three installments early 2013, tied to Greece's implementation of the continuing measures, said Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker. The deal will lower Greece's debt through a mix of interest-rate cuts on loans to Athens, a buyback of Greek debt at sharply discounted prices and the European Central Bank returning profits linked to its holdings of Greek bonds to the Greek government. London Bankers Bracing for Leaner Bonuses Than New York (Bloomberg) nvestment bankers and traders at European banks should expect at least a 15 percent cut in pay this year, while U.S. lenders may leave compensation unchanged, three consultants surveyed by Bloomberg said. That’s because bonus pools at European banks may be reduced by as much as half, while those at U.S. firms, which can cushion the impact of falling fees in the region with earnings from home, may fall 20 percent, they said. “The real split is coming, and we will see the quantum divide this year,” said Tom Gosling, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in London, referring to the difference in pay between the two financial centers. “U.S. regulators don’t have the same obsession with pay structures that European regulators have.” Dimon Would Be Best to Lead Treasury in Crisis, Buffett Says (Bloomberg) “If we did run into problems in markets, I think he would actually be the best person you could have in the job,” Buffett said in response to a question about Dimon from Charlie Rose, according to the transcript of an interview that was scheduled to air yesterday on PBS. “World leaders would have confidence in him.” [...] Dimon, once dubbed Obama’s “favorite banker” by the New York Times, said in a 2011 CNBC interview that he could never work as Treasury secretary and was “not suited to politics.” Carney Abondons A Haven, Leaping Into British Storm (WSJ) Philipp Hildebrand, the former head of the Swiss National Bank, described Mr. Carney as one who "speaks bluntly and politely." The son of a professor and a teacher, Mr. Carney grew up in Edmonton, the capital of Canada's western province, Alberta. He played hockey as an undergraduate at Harvard. Mr. Carney has close links to Britain, having studied in Oxford University in the early 1990s. He worked for a time in Goldman Sachs' London office...Known as a diplomat, Mr. Carney, who supports the Edmonton Oilers NHL team, in his Ottawa office displays a mock street sign alluding to one of Canada's other pro teams, the Ottawa Senators. He cultivates an everyman image, recently discussing his musical tastes—from AC/DC to the hip-hop group Down with Webster—in local media interviews. Fiscal Cliff Compromise Elusive as Congress Returns (Bloomberg) “There’s still a great deal of ground that has to be covered before they get anywhere near a budget deal, and time is running” short, said Phil English, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania and now a lobbyist at Arent Fox LLP in Washington. The Secret Powers Of The Son-In-Law (WSJ) In couples where the husband initially reported being close to his wife's parents, the risk of divorce over the next 16 years was 20% lower than for the group overall. Yet when the wife reported being close to her in-laws, that seemed to have the opposite effect: The risk of divorce with these couples was 20% higher. Dr. Orbuch has a possible explanation: The wife who feels close with her husband's parents may find it difficult to set boundaries and over time may come to see their close relationship with her as meddling. "Because relationships are so important to women, their identity as a wife and mother is central to their being," says Dr. Orbuch, author of the 2012 book "Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship." "They interpret what their in-laws say and do as interference into their identity as a spouse and parent." Men, for the most part, don't have this problem. Their identity as a father and a husband is often secondary to their identity as a provider, Dr. Orbuch says. As a result, they don't tend to take what their in-laws do so personally. Chicago, Illinois charges woman $105,761 for parking infractions she did not commit (TN) Jennifer Fitzgerald is fighting back against the city, her ex-boyfriend and United Airlines with a lawsuit filed November 2 in Cook County Circuit Court. According to the complaint, the somewhat confusing story starts when her former boyfriend Brandon Preveau, bought a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo from Fitzgerald's uncle for $600 in 2008. Despite paying all the fees associated with owning a vehicle (registration, title and insurance) he put the vehicle's registration in Fitzgerald's name -- something the West Side Chicago resident claims was done without her knowledge...the couple broke up at the start of 2009 and Preveau took the car with him after their split. He used the Monte Carlo to drive to work at O'Hare Airport where he was employed by United Airlines. Preveau would leave the vehicle in O'Hare parking lot E, a secured outdoor lot surrounded by high chain link fencing, that is open to the flying public but also utilized by airport employees. The parking lot is owned by the city of Chicago and operated by Standard Parking Corporation, but according to the complaint, United Airlines leases spaces in the lot for use by airline employees. Unbeknownst to Fitzgerald, Preveau abandoned the vehicle. According to the complaints, "On or before November 17, 2009, Brandon drove the automobile into the parking lot and never drove it out again." While the car Preveau drove began receiving parking tickets at the O'Hare lot as early as May 23, 2009, the key date for this story is November 17, 2009. On that day the vehicle was issued seven different parking tickets including being in a hazardous and dilapidated condition, no city sticker, broken headlights, missing or cracked windows, expired plates, being an abandoned vehicle and most importantly a violation for parking a vehicle for more than 30 days in a city-owned lot. Intrade, Facing Charges, Won't Take U.S. Bets (WSJ) The online-predictions exchange Intrade—known for offbeat markets on presidential politics and the Academy Awards—said it would no longer accept bets from U.S. residents. The move came just hours after U.S. regulators filed a civil complaint against the firm over its commodities-focused markets. "We are sorry to announce that due to legal and regulatory pressures, Intrade can no longer allow U.S. residents to participate in our real-money prediction markets," the Dublin-based company said in a statement on its website. Intrade said that existing customers must exit their trades and close their accounts. In China, Hidden Risk of 'Shadow Finance' (WSJ) Shadow finance in China totals about 20 trillion yuan, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., or about a third the current size of the country's bank-lending market. In 2008, such informal lending represented only 5% of total bank lending. The sector is lightly regulated and opaque, raising concerns about massive loan defaults amid a softening economy, with ancillary effects on the country's banks. Harvard Doctor Turns Felon After Lure of Insider Trading (Bloomberg) Today, Joseph F. "Chip" Skowron III, 43, is serving a five-year term for insider trading at the federal prison at Minersville, Pennsylvania. At FrontPoint, Skowron lied to his bosses and law enforcement authorities, cost more than 35 people their jobs and stooped to slipping envelopes of cash to an accomplice. FrontPoint is gone. Morgan Stanley, which once owned FrontPoint, is seeking more than $65 million from Skowron, whose net worth a year ago was $22 million. Until he’s a free man, his wife of 16 years will have to care for their four children and Rocky, their golden retriever, on her own...Health care has become America’s sweet spot for insider traders like Skowron. Among researchers, physicians, government officials and corporate executives, the lure of easy money in health-care insider trading has become epidemic. Since 2008, about 400 people were sued by regulators or charged with insider trading; of those, at least 94 passed or received tips involving pharmaceutical, biotechnology or other health-care stocks. Man Arrested For Saying He Had Dynamite in His Luggage at Miami International Airport (NBC) A man was arrested for telling a TACA ticket agent that he had dynamite in his luggage, which prompted the partial evacuation of Concourse J at Miami International Airport on Monday, Miami-Dade Police said. Alejandro Leon Hurtado, 63, a doctor from Guatemala, faces a charge of false report bomb/explosives at airport, the arrest affidavit said. It wasn't immediately known if Hurtado had an attorney. The ticket agent had just accepted Hurtado luggage, when he asked him about whether it contained hazardous materials. Hurtado answered that he had dynamite in the baggage, and the ticket agent asked him again if he had dynamite in his bag, and he replied that he did and started laughing, the affidavit said. "Once the Defendant was told that police were going to be called the Defendant stated that he was joking," the affidavit said. Hurtado admitted he did say he had dynamite in his bag, but that it was a joke. Hurtado was in custody on an immigration hold Monday night, according to online Miami-Dade Corrections records.

JamieDimonSnap

Opening Bell: 1.23.18

Shutdown over;Jamie Dimon spends his tax windfall; Elon Musk has a new contract for $0; over-excited man shows his dick to a crocodile; and more!

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Opening Bell: 9.19.17

Maybe we've got this whole QE unwind thing backwards; Bill Gross is merely average; the sharing economy comes to sex dolls; and more.