Opening Bell: 06.26.14

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Dark Pool Greed Drove Barclays to Lie to Clients, N.Y. Says (Bloomberg)
Barclays was so bent on lifting its private trading venue to the upper ranks of Wall Street dark pools that it lied to customers and masked the role of high-frequency traders, according to New York’s attorney general. Barclays falsified marketing materials to hide how much high-frequency traders were buying and selling, according to a complaint filed today by Eric Schneiderman. Barclays runs one of Wall Street’s largest dark pools, a private trading venue where investors can trade stocks mostly anonymously.

Barclays pulls bond offering after lawsuit emerges (Reuters)
Barclays pulled a US$1.5bn bond offering on Wednesday after it emerged that the New York attorney general was preparing to sue the UK bank for securities fraud. It had already amassed more than US$4.5bn in orders for the 10-year subordinated deal, market sources said, when reports of the lawsuit hit trading screens. "Investors just baulked," one portfolio manager who had been looking at the deal told IFR. "If something dire does come out the suit, then that could mean that the deal has to be nullified anyway - so it was just better to pull it."

Greek Bonds Beat Lottery as Funds Surge on Smashed Glass (Bloomberg)
The economy will expand this year after the worst downturn in peacetime, the highest unemployment in the region has peaked and investors are buyers of Greek bonds again. The yield on benchmark 10-year government debt is 5.79 percent, down from the high of 44.2 percent in March 2012 -- a return better than most winning lottery tickets.

Soccer Break: Why It Pays to Watch the World Cup at Work (CNBC)
Americans aren't really known for their devotion to soccer, but come Thursday, there are going to be a lot of worker bees stuck in a quandary when the United States faces off against Germany at noon, Eastern Time. Perhaps surprisingly, HR is on your side here. "It's an inspiring and motivating thing that's going on, and we need to take advantage of that," said Monique Honaman, founding partner of HR consulting company ISHR Group.

Puerto Rico Moves to Restructure Debt (WSJ)
Puerto Rico paved the way to overhaul the finances of its power and transportation agencies, potentially saddling investors with losses on about $13.6 billion of debt. Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla proposed legislation Wednesday that would allow some debt-laden public entities to restructure their bonds. The proposed bill doesn't include a way for the island's general-obligation bonds and sales-tax debt to be restructured. The step, if approved, would be the first significant move since the Puerto Rico government hired advisers this year to help it find a way to turn around its utilities, which are heavily indebted and face mounting deficits. The island, which has about $70 billion in obligations, has labored under rising unemployment and declining tax revenue.

Man Sues British Airways After He's Sent To Grenada Instead Of Granada (AP)
A Maryland dentist who said he hadn't had a vacation in two years, is suing British Airways after a booking mistake landed him in Grenada in the Caribbean instead of Granada, Spain, according to NBC News. Edward Gamson said he told the British Airways booker he wanted to go to Spain and didn't notice the error on his ticket because it didn't have an airport code or the flight duration printed on it. He only learned that he was headed to the tiny island nation after his connecting flight in London was in the air and the flight map showed his plane flying west. Gamson said he wasted 375,000 frequent flyer miles for the trip and was only offered $376 for him and his partner and 50,000 miles for their trouble. He is now suing the airline for $34,000 to cover the cost of "pre-booked hotels, trains and other tours" he and his partner had planned, according to NBC.

Standard Chartered Warns On Profit (WSJ)
Standard Chartered PLC has warned investors that operating profit will fall sharply this year as its financial-markets business took a big hit in the first half from squeezed margins at its currency and interest-rate trading operations. The U.K.-based, emerging markets-focused bank said on Thursday that lower profits in foreign-exchange and interest-rate trading as clients have pulled back from these activities helped push first-half operating profit 20% lower than last year's $4.1 billion. The bank said the second half should be slightly better than last year, resulting in a full-year decline of roughly 10% on the $6.96 billion operating profit the bank reported.

Hidden Billionaire Emerges Amid Silicon Valley Tech Boom (Bloomberg)
The construction site at 181 Fremont St. in downtown San Francisco is home to the deepest foundation ever laid in the city’s history. The base will support a 54-floor tower, which, when completed in 2016, will be the Bay Area’s second-tallest building. The structure is the first major property developed in San Francisco by real estate tycoon Jay Paul, who’s become a billionaire creating some of Silicon Valley’s most sought-after corporate campuses. His tenants include Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. “He’s made a killing anticipating where the market would go,” said Garrick Brown, director of research at Cassidy Turley. “He always seems to be two steps ahead. Timing is everything in commercial real estate.”

Glencore appoints first female board director (Reuters)
Glencore, the last British blue-chip company with an all male board, has appointed Patrice Merrin as its first female board director. The commodity trader and mining group had come under fire from some shareholders over its apparent failure to follow recommendations in a 2011 British government review that called for more women on company boards. The government's Davies Review set a target for all companies in the FTSE 100 to have a quarter of board roles held by women by 2015.

Paulson buys more than 6M shares of Allergan stock (NYP)
Valeant’s $53 billion hostile takeover for Botox maker Allergan has another hedge-fund heavyweight besides Bill Ackman on its side. John Paulson, a Valeant shareholder, has taken an even bigger big stake in Allergan, sources told The Post. Paulson has bought more than 6 million shares of Allergan, according to Reuters, which first reported the hedgie’s big stake. Paulson did not return a call for comment. The hedgie owned 1 million shares of Valeant at the end of the first quarter, according to regulatory filings. The bigger Allergan stake would give Paulson, who is known for his merger bets, more than 2 percent of the Botox maker.

"Skateboard Cop" on a mission in Green Bay (WGB)
The Green Bay Police Department has a brand new patrol division. For now, there is just one member but he is making a big impact. "I think I am the only one in the world who actually patrols with a skateboard" explains Green Bay Police Officer Joel Zwicky. Known as "Skateboard Cop", he is earning superhero status in the community. "When I am out on the trails patrolling people, I get a lot of selfies with people and things like that" he says with a laugh. While he does not sport tights or a cape, he does have the latest gadgets. The specially designed board has wider trucks, bigger wheels, and red and blue LED lights. A ten year veteran of the force, Skateboard Cop is happy to be out of the patrol car. "It gets us more exercise, and it also helps us talk to people because the squad is kind of a barrier for us" Officer Zwicky explains. He is also trying to change stereotypes about the sport. "I wanted to break that down and show people that skateboarders are not just punk kids causing trouble, they are all kinds of people in the community, and they are even your police force," he says. His passion is even earning respect from the hard to please teen crowd. "It could help the littler kids be encouraged and whatnot. Oh look there is a cop skateboarding and they could go up and ask him about it" says fellow skater, Chris Endlich.

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Opening Bell: 4.22.16

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Opening Bell: 2.6.15

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Opening Bell: 03.11.13

EU Chiefs Seeking to Stave Off Euro Crisis Turn to Cyprus (Bloomberg) European leaders grappling with political deadlock in Italy and spiraling unemployment in France will turn to a financial rescue for Cyprus in an effort to stave off a return of market turmoil over the debt crisis. European Union leaders will meet for a March 14-15 summit in Brussels to discuss terms for Cyprus, including the island nation’s debt sustainability and possibly imposing losses on depositors. That comes as Italy struggles to form a government after an inconclusive Feb. 24-25 election and as concern over the French economy mounts with unemployment at a 13-year high. Spain's Bailout Fund Said to Seek Help on Bank Strategy (WSJ) Spain's bank bailout fund is seeking to hire advisers to help shape a long-term strategy for dealing with its portfolio of nationalized lenders, a week after calling off an auction of one of the most troubled banks. People briefed about the plan said the fund, known by its Spanish acronym FROB, will make contact with strategic consultants, and possibly with investment banks, once the plan has been approved by the FROB's board of directors. Is There Life After Work? By Erin Callan (NYT) "I didn’t start out with the goal of devoting all of myself to my job. It crept in over time. Each year that went by, slight modifications became the new normal. First I spent a half-hour on Sunday organizing my e-mail, to-do list and calendar to make Monday morning easier. Then I was working a few hours on Sunday, then all day. My boundaries slipped away until work was all that was left...I have often wondered whether I would have been asked to be C.F.O. if I had not worked the way that I did. Until recently, I thought my singular focus on my career was the most powerful ingredient in my success. But I am beginning to realize that I sold myself short. I was talented, intelligent and energetic. It didn’t have to be so extreme. Besides, there were diminishing returns to that kind of labor. I didn’t have to be on my BlackBerry from my first moment in the morning to my last moment at night. I didn’t have to eat the majority of my meals at my desk. I didn’t have to fly overnight to a meeting in Europe on my birthday. I now believe that I could have made it to a similar place with at least some better version of a personal life. Not without sacrifice — I don’t think I could have “had it all” — but with somewhat more harmony. I have also wondered where I would be today if Lehman Brothers hadn’t collapsed. In 2007, I did start to have my doubts about the way I was living my life. Or not really living it. But I felt locked in to my career. I had just been asked to be C.F.O. I had a responsibility. Without the crisis, I may never have been strong enough to step away. Perhaps I needed what felt at the time like some of the worst experiences in my life to come to a place where I could be grateful for the life I had. I had to learn to begin to appreciate what was left. At the end of the day, that is the best guidance I can give. Whatever valuable advice I have about managing a career, I am only now learning how to manage a life." Paper Trail Goes Cold in Case Against S&P (Reuters) In early 2007, as signs of distress began appearing in securities backed by residential mortgages, executives at Standard & Poor's began advising analysts responsible for rating mortgage bonds that they should put the phrase "privileged and confidential" on emails to one another. Analysts working for the McGraw Hill Cos division also were discouraged from doodling on notepads and official documents during meetings to discuss pending deals and existing ratings, several former S&P employees said. That was not the first time S&P had tried to caution employees about paper trails. In 2005, a full two years before the housing market began to melt down, several top S&P managers attended an off-site meeting at hotel in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, to discuss ways to increase the fees it collected from Wall Street banks for rating mortgage bonds. A former S&P executive said that after the meeting, employees were instructed to discard any notes they had taken from the meeting. InTrade Shuts Down (WSJ) InTrade, the Ireland-based website that allows users to place wagers on non-sports-related upcoming events, announced on Sunday that it is shutting its site down. In an official statement, the company does not go into great detail as to why it is closing its doors, only that it is related to “financial irregularities which, in accordance with Irish law,” require InTrade to cease operations until resolved. “At this time and until further notice, it is not possible to make any payments to members in accordance with their settled account balance until the investigations have concluded,” the company said. Commodities Squeeze Banks (WSJ) The sharp fall in commodity revenue has already claimed some victims. UBS AG, the Swiss bank that has been under pressure to cut costs and improve its performance, last year closed all its commodities-trading desks aside from those dealing in precious metals. Goldman, UBS, Deutsche Bank, and Barclays have all suffered departures of senior commodity traders to hedge funds and independent trading companies over the last several months. Average staffing in commodities trading declined 5.9% last year at major banks, according to Coalition. Artist Teaches George W. Bush How To Paint (Fox5) An artist in Cumming, GA spent a month teaching former President George W. Bush how to paint. Bonnie Flood said that President Bush has a passion for painting and shows real potential as an artists. "He started off painting dogs. I think he said he painted 50 dogs," Flood said. "He pulled out this canvas and started painting dogs and I thought, 'Oh my God, I don't paint dogs!" Flood, who does most of paintings at her home in Cumming, occasionally conducts workshops in Florida. That's where the former President heard about her. The next thing she knew, she was packing up her paints to spend a month in Boca Grande with President Bush. She said that she spent about six hours a day with the President, mixing paints and teaching him proper brush strokes. She says she wasn't intimidated but admits she really didn't know what to call him until she found the magic number. "I called him '43' because that's the way he signed his paintings. "When I really wanted him to do something, I would say, 'Mr. President you know that you don't do it that way.'" She says the President learned quickly and soon started painting fewer dogs and more landscapes. "He has such a passion for painting, it's amazing," Flood said. "He's going to go down in the history books as a great artist." Hostess Creditor, Private-Equity Firms Show Interest in Twinkies Brand (Reuters) Hostess Brands creditor Silver Point Capital and hedge fund Hurst Capital have expressed interest in buying Hostess's snack cake brands, including Twinkies, the New York Post reported. Paulson Said to Explore Puerto Rico as Home With Low Tax (Bloomberg) John Paulson, a lifelong New Yorker, is exploring a move to Puerto Rico, where a new law would eliminate taxes on gains from the $9.5 billion he has invested in his own hedge funds, according to four people who have spoken to him about a possible relocation. More US Profits Parked Abroad (WSJ) A Wall Street Journal analysis of 60 big U.S. companies found that, together, they parked a total of $166 billion offshore last year. That shielded more than 40% of their annual profits from U.S. taxes, though it left the money off-limits for paying dividends, buying back shares or making investments in the U.S. The 60 companies were chosen for the analysis because each of them had held at least $5 billion offshore in 2011. Twitter, Social Media Are Fertile Ground For Stock Hoaxes (Reuters) "Twitter pump and dump schemes are obviously something for the market to be concerned about, even if they are just a new way for people to do schemes that have been done forever," said Keith McCullough, chief executive officer at Hedgeye Risk Management in New Haven, Connecticut. He uses Twitter and has more than 22,000 followers. In such hoaxes, anonymous users set up accounts with names that sound like prominent market players, issue negative commentary, and spark massive declines. The selling that follows shows how the rapid spread of information on social media can make for volatile trading, and is a warning to investors who trade on news before fully verifying the source. SEC: Goldman Cannot Ignore Proposal to Split Chairman, CEO Roles (Reuters) SEC staff sent a letter to Goldman internal counsel Beverly O'Toole this week, saying the agency is "unable to concur" with Goldman's view that the shareholder proposal does not warrant a vote. El Paso Sheriff's deputies arrest 2 ice cream men for possession of pot (EPT) Saturday afternoon, Sheriff's deputies spotted a purple ice cream truck with a cracked windshield and an expired registration sticker along the 8600 block of Alameda. During the traffic stop, one of the occupants left the vehicle and led deputies on a brief foot pursuit before being caught. Two tupperware bowls containing a green leafy substance, believed to be marijuana, was found on the man, who was identified as 19-year-old Elijah Sanchez. The second occupant, identified as 29-year-old Anthony Arellano, was also charged with possession of marijuana after deputies found marijuana inside the vehicle. Arellano has been arrested in the past for numerous felony charges and a previous possession of marijuana charge in 2006, deputies said.

Opening Bell: 8.5.15

Puerto Rico; Jeb; Soros 2.0; "Meth lab remnants found inside Iowa Taco Bell"; and more.