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Opening Bell: 08.01.14

Argentina Unopposed to Bank Deal With Hedge Funds (Bloomberg)
Argentina’s Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said the government wouldn’t oppose a third-party solution to its dispute with a group of hedge funds who successfully sued the country for $1.5 billion. A U.S. judge has blocked Argentina from paying its debt -- including an interest payment due July 30 on $13 billion of bonds -- until the hedge funds led by Elliott Management Corp. get their money. Standard & Poor’s declared the country in default while Moody’s Investors Service placed its rating on negative outlook.

Gross Left Behind in Pimco Return to Top as Deputies Rise (Bloomberg)
Bill Gross promised in May that funds managed by his Pacific Investment Management Co. would be back on top by the end of the year. So far, his prediction is looking good -- unless you count the funds that Gross himself runs. Nine of Pimco’s 15 largest mutual funds are beating at least 75 percent of peers so far this year, according to data compiled by Chicago-based research company Morningstar Inc. None of those top performers are managed by Chief Investment Officer Gross. Of the four funds trailing more than half their rivals, three including the Pimco Total Return Fund are run by the 70-year-old investor known as the bond king.

Tax-Averse French Seek Shelter in Portugal (BusinessWeek)
Under Portugal’s so-called non-habitual-resident program, foreign pensioners who come to live in the country have their pension income exempt from taxes as long as the income is paid from a foreign source. A foreigner has to live at least 183 days a year in Portugal to qualify as a tax resident. France only taxes citizens who live in the country—not French who live abroad. “This means that the pension income may end up not being taxed at all,” says Luis Filipe Sousa, a tax manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Lisbon.

SEC probes its own leak but can't find culprit (CNBC)
The inspector general of the Securities and Exchange Commission conducted an intensive, months-long dragnet in 2013 and 2014 involving phone, email and security searches to determine who inside the agency allegedly leaked information to the media about a closed commission meeting discussing the massive JPMorgan "London Whale" settlement, CNBC has learned. Investigators at the Office of the Inspector General produced a 16-page report detailing their findings in March, but that report has never been made public. A copy of the report was obtained by CNBC on Thursday. The document paints a picture of an SEC in which commission members are at odds with one another and investigators scrutinize their colleagues, staff and the media. It also details just how far the inspector general went to learn how information about a Sept. 12, 2013, executive session commission meeting about JPMorgan had apparently been given to a Reuters reporter, Sarah Lynch.

Fired Miami Beach cop gets job back after blaming cocaine test on sex-aid cream (MH)
After Miami Beach police Detective Reinaldo Casas tested positive for cocaine, he insisted that the drug had been unwittingly absorbed into his blood through an erection-enhancing cream he applied to his genitals. His defense worked. An arbitrator this week ordered Casas, who was fired last year because of the positive drug test, be reinstated with complete back pay. “There is no evidence in the record to show that [Casas] was aware the cream contained a controlled substance,” according to the arbitrator’s report, which was released Thursday.

US hiring surge continues with 200,000 jobs in July (AP)
U.S. employers extended their hiring surge into July by adding a solid 209,000 jobs. It was the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000, evidence that businesses are gradually shedding the caution that had marked the 5-year-old recovery.

SocGen Net Rises on Investment Bank, Lower Loan Losses (Bloomberg)
Net income rose to 1.03 billion euros ($1.4 billion) from 955 million euros a year earlier, the Paris-based bank said today. While earnings were the highest in four years and above analysts’ estimates, the shares fell amid concern over the bank’s business in Russia, where Societe Generale is among the largest foreign banks.

Disgraced banker: I stole $1M for love child (NYP, earlier)
Frank “Perk” Hixon Jr. is facing up to 4³/₄ years behind bars when sentenced in federal court Friday morning, but he is pleading for leniency because, the married millionaire claims, he tipped his Texas girlfriend to upcoming deals only so she could earn enough money to support their love child. And that, his lawyer claims in court papers, is not nearly as evil as the insider trading crimes of hedge fund traders — who did their crimes solely to get rich. Hixon’s love-fueled frauds “pale in comparison to the pervasive, calculated and economically-driven conduct of defendants such as Raj Rajaratnam,” the lawyer wrote in a letter to Judge Ronnie Abrams. The opera-loving Hixon, who met his high-society wife, Marguerite Lammot Lee, when they were both at Harvard Business School, claims his baby momma, Destiny Robinson, is too proud to accept child support checks — but the 37-year old was more than willing to receive investment advice. So Hixon, 55, a former managing director at Evercore Partners, opened up a brokerage account in her name and used inside information on deals he was working from 2011-2013 to profitably trade in those stocks to fatten up the account.There was nearly $1 million in profits in the account.

TLC Reunion Tour Demands Fancy Sushi, Oxygen, And No Courtyard By Marriott Hotels, Rider Shows (TSG)
According to the group’s 2014 tour rider, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas’s food requirements include yellowtail sashimi and shrimp tempura with avocado from Nobu, which has restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, London, Beijing, Monte Carlo Dubai, Milan, and other fashionable outposts. It is unclear how concert promoters in less glamorous locales like Tulsa, Buffalo, or Akron will source “Chilli”’s sushi. They will, presumably, have less trouble securing the 43-year-old singer’s “sugarfree raisins” and smoked almonds. Like Thomas, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins bans pork from her dressing room, but appears to enjoy turkey sandwiches on wheat bread with Miracle Whip in her dressing room. Watkins, 44, also needs two “Ace bandages for knee wraps” and “(1) Oxygen tank.” As for lodging, the duo requires suites in a “5 Star Hotel.” But a “4 Star Hotel” will have to suffice “if a 5 Star Hotel is not available in the applicable location.” The rider also notes that the performers would not accept “motels, inns or Courtyard Marriot’s.”