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Opening Bell: 05.23.14

Wall Street Bets on Bond Revival in Trader Hiring Spree (Bloomberg)
Wall Street firms are starting to bet on an end to the profit-eroding boredom in credit markets by building out their trading desks. Nomura Holdings Inc. has added 10 to its U.S. corporate debt team this year, an increase of about 10 percent, and plans to expand further, according to Michael Guarnieri, the bank’s global head of credit products in New York. The latest hires are high-yield debt traders Daniel Frommer and James Incognito, who joined this month.

Cocaine Sales to Boost Italian GDP in Boon for Budget (Bloomberg)
Italy will include prostitution and illegal drug sales in the gross domestic product calculation this year, a boost for its chronically stagnant economy and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s effort to meet deficit targets. Drugs, prostitution and smuggling will be part of GDP as of 2014 and prior-year figures will be adjusted to reflect the change in methodology, the Istat national statistics office said today. The revision was made to comply with European Union rules, it said.

Colorado cracks down on edible pot products (CNBC)
The new regulations add to the long list of costs for retail marijuana sellers, said Jamie Lewis, COO of marijuana dispensary and edible pot company Good Chemistry. The fresh laws prohibit edible pot products from containing more than 10 milligrams of THC per serving, and they require packaging noticeably different from regular foods on such products. The new rules, however, bring in more business for CannLabs, a company that tests cannabis products in Denver. CannLabs CEO Genifer Murray told CNBC that revenue has skyrocketed at her testing lab, but that the company still gets rebuffed by waste removal companies and other labs for being involved in the marijuana industry. "Shame on them," Murray said. "It's going to be a billion-dollar industry."

Is the Hard-Nosed Boss Obsolete? (WSJ)
When bosses simply have to get things done, yelling at subordinates or glaring at them can be OK, depending on the company culture, and is among the "array of techniques that you use as a manager," Prof. Sutton says. Genuine jerks have been mostly culled from the ranks of corporations in recent years, in part because it is harder to get away with truly bad behavior, he says, adding, "the a—holes among us are getting more skilled, and the ones we are left with are being more subtle about it." Some companies take formal stands against jerks. A slideshow presentation on corporate culture posted online by Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings declares that the company doesn't need "brilliant jerks." Though tolerated at some companies, he writes, Netflix believes their "cost to effective teamwork is too high."

Rob Ford lets rehab friend use SUV, drunk driving happens (NYP)
The generous politician lent his black Cadillac Escalade to his rehab buddy LeeAnne McRobb, 36, and she wound up getting arrested Tuesday for alleged DWI in the SUV, the Toronto Sun reports. McRobb was a fellow resident at the GreenStone Muskoka treatment center, sources told the Sun. She refused to explain why she was driving the disgraced politician’s car when confronted by two reporters at the impound lot in Gravenhurst, Ontario. “It doesn’t matter. That’s for me to know,” she said in one of two videos posted on YouTube by MooseFM Wednesday. “You guys don’t need to know.”

JD.com Founder Liu’s Wealth Surges to $6.1 Billion on IPO (Bloomberg)
JD.com’s initial public offering was the biggest ever for a Chinese Internet company in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Beijing-based company sells products such as home appliances, books and clothes to more than 47 million customers. It uses a business model similar to billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.com, managing inventory and selling directly to consumers.

Ressler preparing to bid on Clippers: source (NYP)
Private equity billionaire Antony Ressler is prepping a bid for the Los Angeles Clippers, two sources told The Post. Ressler, who owns the $74 billion Ares Management, is a longtime friend of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, sources said. While Ressler’s interest in bidding for the team was not previously known, he is “going to be aggressive” about making a bid, said a person familiar with the situation.

Prosecutor Sorry For Facebook Post Telling 'Crack Hoes' To Tie Their Tubes (AP)
Kenneth Lewis, an assistant state attorney for Orange and Osceola County, said that he "used a poor choice of words" and apologized to anyone who took offense to his Facebook comments earlier this month. Lewis said he thought that his posts from May 11 and May 6 were only to his friends network on the social website, and not visible to the general public. He said he doesn't believe his comments affect his ability to be an impartial prosecutor.

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Barclays High-Pay Culture Brought Disrepute: Report (WSJ) Barclays PLC suffered from "a lack of self-awareness" in recent years as a culture of high pay and short-term incentives brought the bank into disrepute, according to an independent report by lawyer and investment banker Anthony Salz. The Salz Review, which was commissioned by Barclays' former chairman after the bank admitted to trying to rig interbank interest rates last summer, describes how in about 10 years the lender expanded to become a disparate set of businesses, each with its own culture. "The result of this growth was that Barclays became complex to manage," the report published Wednesday said. "Despite some attempts to establish group-wide values, the culture that emerged tended to favor transactions over relationships, the short term over sustainability, and financial over other business purposes." The 235-page report—which cost Barclays about £17 million ($25.7 million) to have produced—recommended a series of reforms aimed at trying to foster a common sense of purpose across the bank. To this end, Barclays' board must play a more active role in overseeing the business and Barclays' human resources department must be given more power to stand up on issues such as pay, the report said. Ex-Goldman Sachs Trader Taylor Said to Surrender to FBI (Bloomberg) Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. traderMatthew Taylor planned to surrender today to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a person familiar with the matter said. Taylor was accused Nov. 8 by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission of concealing an $8.3 billion position in 2007 that caused New York-based Goldman Sachs to lose $118 million. Morgan Stanley hired Taylor in March 2008, less than three months after Goldman Sachs disclosed in a public filing that he had been fired for building an “inappropriately large” proprietary trading position. Cyprus Bailout Details Emerge After IMF Deal (WSJ) The IMF statement set out the tough terms the tiny nation of 800,000 has to meet to get the bailout, calling the task ahead "challenging." Cyprus, an economy of roughly €17 billion in annual output, needs to push through cuts and savings worth 4.5% of gross domestic product by 2018 to hit a primary-surplus target of 4% of GDP outlined in the bailout deal, the IMF statement said. These cuts will come on top of savings worth 5% of GDP the government is already implementing through to 2015. An extra 2% of GDP in extra revenue will come from an increase in the country's corporate tax from 10% to 12.5% and an increase in the tax on interest income from 15% to 30%. The country's corporate-tax rate will remain among the lowest in Europe, on an equal footing with Ireland's, and will allow Cyprus to continue to use its tax regime to attract businesses, but the increase in withholding tax will make it substantially less attractive as a place for individuals to leave their savings. Cyprus Leader Invites Family Firm Probe (FT) Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades has urged judges investigating the country's banking disaster to examine transactions handled by his family law firm as "a priority" in a bid to defuse public anger over last-minute transfers by well-connected Cypriots, Russians and Ukrainians who thereby avoided a "haircut" on their uninsured deposits. The move followed questions over whether a company managed by the president's son-in-law made use of inside information to transfer more than 20 million euros out of Laiki Bank days before its collapse. Marc Lasry In French Follies (NYP) Lasry, the CEO and co-founder of Avenue Capital, is on his way to getting a plum assignment as the US ambassador to France as a reward for his many years as a big Democratic fundraiser. But the Moroccan-born, French-speaking American could encounter some uncomfortable moments when he lands in Paris, given his views on the land of fine wine, crusty baguettes — and European socialism. “We don’t invest in France,” he said at a New York hedge-fund conference sponsored by French bank BNP in June 2010, even apologizing to his hosts as he made the comment. Lasry, who is a bankruptcy lawyer by training, loves to chide other countries for their creditor-unfriendly ways. His $11.7 billion distressed debt fund buys up beaten-down credits of companies headed towards bankruptcy, with the payout determined by their ranking in the process. That can be dicey in countries like France, he explained at the BNP conference, as “the legal system is very much tilted towards helping unions and workers.” As a result, he said, “you might find your claim disallowed.” 1,000 pot plants seized in Queens in warehouse raid (NYDN) A massive drug operation went up in smoke Tuesday when law enforcement officials raided an indoor marijuana farm in Queens. Authorities seized more than 1,000 pot plants - along with grow lights and other gear - from the 44th Rd. warehouse in Long Island City just after 3 p.m. , police sources said. Officials from the NYPD, state police and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency also rounded up five suspects in the sweep. New York-for-Buenos Aires Swap Theory Spreads: Argentina Credit (Bloomberg) Argentina’s refusal to improve its offer to holders of defaulted debt suing for full payment in the U.S. is deepening speculation that the nation will sever ties with the overseas bond market. The proposal submitted on March 29 mimics the terms of Argentina’s 2005 and 2010 debt exchanges, a move that could lead to a default on the restructured notes unless the country removes them from U.S. jurisdiction. BofA Chief Moynihan Said to Summon Managers for Revenue Push (Bloomberg) Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan has summoned more than 100 of his regional leaders to a private meeting today where they’ll be pushed to boost the lender’s flagging revenue, said two people with direct knowledge of the project. Managers at the two-day event in Chicago will be judged on how much progress they’ve made in helping to sell more products to the 53 million customers of the second-biggest U.S. lender, said the people, who asked for anonymity because Moynihan’s plan hasn’t been made public. Revenue has dropped every year of Moynihan’s three-year tenure as he sold assets, repaired the firm’s balance sheet and settled more than $40 billion in claims tied to defective mortgages. Private Sector Adds 158,000 Jobs (WSJ) Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected ADP to report a gain of 192,000 private jobs. However, the February job gain was revised up to 237,000 from 198,000 reported a month ago. SEC Embraces Social Media (WSJ) In a ruling that portends changes to how companies communicate with investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that postings on sites such as Facebook and Twitter are just as good as news releases and company websites as long as the companies have told investors which outlets they intend to use. Gray seal pup saved from death on Montauk beach now recovering (NYDN) The three-month-old seal, underweight at 40 pounds, is now resting in one of the foundation's rehabilitation tanks at the Atlantic Marine World aquarium in Riverhead. "She feels very sassy in her tank and doesn't appreciate anything we are doing for her," laughed Kimberly Durham, director of the rescue program, "which is a good sign. A nasty seal is a good sign that she is getting better because they are wild animals.

Opening Bell: 5.18.16

Bond buyers can't help themselves; Silicon Valley mocks Trump; Walmart Theft Suspect Told Cops She Was "Too Lazy" To Pay For Stolen Sex Toys; and more.