Opening Bell: 11.13.14

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Take Brunt of Currencies Settlement (WSJ)
Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay more than $1 billion each to resolve allegations that they tried for years to manipulate the foreign-currency market, the biggest fines wrung from a group of six banks by regulators in the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland.

Barclays Pressed by New York’s Bank Regulator in FX Probe (Bloomberg)
Benjamin Lawsky, the head of New York’s Department of Financial Services, refused to join a group settlement announced yesterday by U.S. and European regulators, causing Barclays Plc (BARC) to pull out at the last minute, according to a person familiar with the matter. Lawsky decided the settlement over rigging foreign-exchange rates wouldn’t be severe enough and instead is continuing his own probe, said another person briefed on the matter who asked not to be named because the investigation isn’t public. He has also appointed a monitor, Devon Capital LLP, to review Barclays’s continuing conduct, confirmed John Padrnos, a partner at the advisory firm, which specializes in derivatives.

Bank of England Officials Cleared of Wrongdoing in Currency Manipulation (Dealbook)
An independent inquiry released on Wednesday found that no one at the Bank of England was involved in unlawful or improper behavior related to the foreign exchange market, but a top official was fired this week after the central bank said he failed to follow internal policies. In October 2013, the Bank of England’s governors began an internal review after accusations arose that officials condoned or knew about manipulation in the foreign exchange market. In March of this year, the bank’s oversight committee took over the investigation, and Lord Grabiner, Queen’s Counsel, was appointed to lead the external review.

Goldman Names Fewer Traders to Newest Class of Partners (Bloomberg, earlier)
Employees in the trading and research divisions comprise 36 percent of the class, down from 44 percent two years ago, according to the New York-based company. An industrywide slump has driven down Goldman Sachs’s trading revenue to $12 billion in the first nine months of the year, from $27.5 billion in the same period of 2009 and $18.2 billion in 2010.

Martoma In Prison Posture (NYP)
Martoma’s bid to stay out of prison pending his appeal was quickly denied Wednesday by a federal appeals panel that ruled he had “failed to show that the appeal ‘raises a substantial question of law or fact.’"

Alleged coke-dealing priest headed for trial (UPI)
An Italian priest arrested at a cocaine party on suspicion of dealing the drug has been scheduled for a fast-track trial in January. Don Stefano Maria Cavalletti, 45, was arrested in July when police were called to a Milan address on a report of a loud party and they found a large amount of cocaine along with the priest's shredded passport in the bathroom of the home. Cavalletti told police he had been using cocaine as "self-treatment" for depression he suffered after being convicted in September 2013 of fraud against an elderly woman. The priest is now scheduled for a fast-track trial January 29.

Obama Aims to Reawaken G-20 Economies (NYT)
“We’re not about to have a meltdown that will spill over into the United States and bring us into recession,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said on Wednesday in a telephone interview on his way to the summit meeting of the Group of 20 largest economic powers. “On the other hand, the global economy is highly interconnected, and if things are really bad in Europe and Japan, if there’s a real slowdown in China, that’s a headwind in the United States that we don’t need.”

Mr. Lew and Mr. Obama will arrive at the G-20 meeting in Brisbane in a familiar position: pressing nations to raise their spending and monetary levers while struggling to secure their own economic policies. The president’s first G-20 summit — in London in 2009 — was dominated by a push for fiscal stimulus and monetary easing. This weekend, he will be back at it. “The world is counting on the U.S. economy to drive the global recovery,” Mr. Lew said in an address on Wednesday in Seattle to the World Affairs Council. “But the global economy cannot prosper broadly relying on the United States to be the importer of first and last resort, nor can it rely on the United States to grow fast enough to make up for weak growth in major world economies.”

Buffett Right, Einhorn Wrong as Moody’s Tops $100 a Share (Bloomberg)
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, Einhorn bet against Moody’s Corp. (MCO), whose largest shareholder is Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and rival McGraw Hill Financial Inc. He called their brands “ruined” for their roles in precipitating the worst recession since the 1930s with faulty credit ratings. Moody’s, founded by John Moody in 1909, surpassed $100 for the first time today, climbing 0.8 percent to $100.08. The New York-based company has advanced more than fivefold since 2008 on five straight years of increasing revenue as low borrowing costs spurred debt issuance across the globe. “We believe the recent case against S&P is a negative for the rating agencies and Moody’s is not immune,” Einhorn said on an earnings call for his reinsurer Greenlight Capital Re Ltd. in February 2013, the last time he discussed the position in relation to that company’s earnings. “We are short both Moody’s and S&P’s parent, McGraw Hill.”

Obama to Nominate Lazard Banker for a top Treasury Post (WSJ)
President Barack Obama said he intends to nominate investment banker Antonio Weiss as the next U.S. Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance. Mr. Weiss, 48 years old, is head of global investment banking at Lazard Ltd. , a mergers-and-acquisitions and restructuring shop on Wall Street. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Weiss would succeed Mary Miller, who stepped down from the senior Treasury post in September.

Twitter answers sceptics with 2024 targets (FT)
Anthony Noto, new chief financial officer and a former Goldman Sachs banker, said Twitter wanted to become one of the “top revenue generating internet companies in the world”. He said Twitter could reach $14bn in annual sales in the next ten years, ten times the $1.4bn it is forecast to record this year according to the average analyst estimate. In five to eight years, it could generate $11bn, he added. Using long range forecasts in an attempt to inspire sceptical investors, Twitter said it could generate long term margins of 40 to 45 per cent – higher than the forecast for margins of 35 to 40 per cent it made during its initial public offering last year – partly because of a greater use of targeted advertising than it had predicted.

The bigger the age gap, the shorter the marriage (MarketWatch)
There are many early indications of what might cause a marriage to crumble before a couple walks down the aisle — and the age gap between partners is one of them. And according to data in a recent study of 3,000 people by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, professors in the Department of Economics at Emory University in Atlanta, it could be a considerable factor. Randal Olson, a fourth-year computer science graduate research assistant at Michigan State University, crunched the raw data from Emory and found that a larger age gap is related to a higher divorce rate. A five-year age gap statistically means you’re 18 percent more likely to divorce (versus just 3 percent with a 1-year age difference), and that rate rises to 39 percent for a 10-year age difference and 95 percent for a 20-year age gap. Partners from different generations may have different cultural reference points and values, and polar opposite tastes in music and film, and even friends, and also have different approaches to their sex life, says Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills psychotherapist and panelist on “Sex Box,” a forthcoming We TV relationship therapy show. “Sex drive goes up for women in middle age, but sexual function decreases for men.”

Related

Opening Bell: 11.05.12

Wall Street Pay Rises (WSJ) Wall Street pay will bounce in 2012 from last year's sharply reduced levels, but bonuses will be lower and have more strings attached than before the financial crisis, the latest tally of finance-industry compensation shows. So-called incentive-based pay, which includes cash and stock awards, is set to be flat to up 5% to 10% from a year earlier, according to a forecast set to be released Monday by consulting firm Johnson Associates. At the same time, financial firms are keeping a lid on cash outlays by deferring more pay and trimming their workforces...Many securities-industry employees still rake in far more in pay than most other professions. But gone are the days when scores of star traders would get million-dollar, year-end windfalls. The average managing director is set to take home about $930,000 in total pay for 2012, up 3.3% from $900,000 a year ago but down about 23% from $1.2 million in 2010...Reflecting a big rebound from last year's plunge, the survey said bond traders—among the hardest hit in terms of pay in 2011—could see their bonuses rise 10% to 20%, even though several firms are scaling back fixed-income trading operations. Investment bankers and equity traders may receive as much as 10% less in bonuses than last year. Equity volumes remain weak, while global merger and acquisition volume is down 16% to $1.7 trillion through the first nine months of the year, according to Thomson Reuters. Goldman Sachs Partner List Drops 31 Since February, Filing Shows (Bloomberg) Some of the names missing from the latest filing had already been reported, such as former Securities Division Co- Head David B. Heller and Lucas van Praag, the former head of corporate communications. Others hadn’t been announced. Economy Set for Better Times Whether Obama or Romney Wins (Bloomberg) Mitt Romney says Barack Obama’s policies will consign the U.S. to an extended period of sluggish economic growth, at best. The president says his Republican challenger’s plans will sow the seeds of another mammoth recession. Both are wrong. No matter who wins the election tomorrow, the economy is on course to enjoy faster growth in the next four years as the headwinds that have held it back turn into tailwinds. Consumers are spending more and saving less after reducing household debt to the lowest since 2003. Home prices are rebounding after falling more than 30 percent from their 2006 highs. And banks are increasing lending after boosting equity capital by more than $300 billion since 2009. “The die is cast for a much stronger recovery,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for Moody’s Analytics Inc. He sees growth this year and next at about 2 percent before doubling to around 4 percent in both 2014 and 2015 as consumption, construction and hiring all pick up. Chanos Unmoved by Chinese Banks’ Biggest Rally Since Jan. (Bloomberg) The biggest monthly surge in Chinese banks since January isn’t enough to stop Jim Chanos from shorting the financial shares as the portfolio manager wagers the country faces a credit crisis as bad loans increase. “You can’t look at a month and say that’s the trend, or something’s changed,” Chanos, who oversees $6 billion as the founder and president at Kynikos Associates Ltd., said in a Bloomberg television interview. Bad loans peaking at 3 percent, “seems awfully Pollyannic,” he said. Merkel: Euro Debt Crisis Will Last 5 Years Or More (Reuters) Merkel says the continent is on the right path to overcome the crisis but "whoever thinks this can be fixed in one or two years is wrong." Europe's Bank Reviews Collateral (WSJ) The issue involves about €80 billion in Spanish Treasury bills the ECB accepted as collateral for its loans. The ECB applies different discounts, or haircuts, to collateral based on the quality of the asset being posted. The Treasury bills under question were given the highest collateral rating, but Welt am Sonntag's research suggests many of the securities should have been given a lower rating, meaning more bills would have needed to be posted to obtain the same amount of ECB credit. If the ECB eventually were to downgrade the securities, banks would have to provide additional collateral to cover the nearly €17 billion in ECB loans they have received. The issue could prove to be embarrassing to the ECB if it is forced to admit it wasn't strict enough in enforcing its rules. Jeep Driven By Suspected Smugglers Gets Stuck Atop U.S.-Mexico Border Fence (TSG) A harebrained attempt by suspected smugglers to drive a Jeep Cherokee up and over a U.S.-Mexico border fence failed early Tuesday when the vehicle got stuck atop the 14-foot tall barrier. As seen above, the teetering SUV was spotted by U.S. Border Patrol agents after it had been driven up a makeshift ramp, but could not complete the trip’s final leg into Arizona. When agents approached the vehicle, two individuals on the fence's Mexican side fled. Investigators suspect that the Jeep likely contained narcotics, which were offloaded when the vehicle became stuck. Rochdale Says Bad Apple Trade Led to Rescue Bid (WSJ) "Rochdale had an unauthorized trade that left us with a negative capital position. We are in talks that would result in a healthy balance sheet, and we expect to be trading maybe as early as Monday," said Rochdale President Daniel Crowley. He said the unauthorized trading was in shares of Apple, and that, as of Saturday evening, the company was in talks with two firms for a possible injection of capital. He declined to offer more details on the unauthorized trading. S&P Found Liable by Australia Court for Misleading Rating (Bloomberg) Standard & Poor’s misled investors by giving its highest rating to securities whose value plunged during the global credit freeze, a judge ruled in an Australian case that may be cited in lawsuits around the world. S&P was “misleading and deceptive” in its rating of two structured debt issues in 2006, Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot said in a summary of her ruling released today in Sydney. The Australian municipalities that brought the case are entitled to damages from the credit ratings company and two other defendants, ABN Amro Bank NV and Local Government Financial Services Pty., according to the ruling. Banks Going Low-Tech In Aftermath Of Sandy (WSJ) Sandy's devastating force has led many of the banks lying in its path to resort to old-fashioned, low-tech ways of serving their customers—including stocking up on cash and recording transactions by hand with ink and paper. Hulk Hogan: Bubba the Love Sponge and I 'are NOT friends and never will be friends' after sex tape leak (NYDN) They may have settled their sex tape brawl, but Hulk Hogan and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem aren’t rekindling their former friendship, the wrestling star claimed Friday. “Just for the record, Bubba and I are NOT friends and never will be friends, we are NOT friends,” Hulk Hogan said of the Florida shock jock in a Twitter message. Hogan sued Bubba Oct. 15 for invasion of privacy after grainy footage of the mustachioed muscleman having sex with Bubba’s wife surfaced on Gawker.com...Hogan, 59, maintained he was unaware of any camera and that the leak of the 6-year-old recording, made with Bubba’s consent while the wrestler’s ill-fated marriage to ex-wife Linda Hogan was on the rocks, was a devastating blow.

Opening Bell: 11.01.12

Wall Street Sputters Back To Life (WSJ) It wasn't until Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYSE Euronext Chief Executive Officer Duncan Niederauer rang the opening bell that traders knew for sure that the systems would work. "Out of this postapocalyptic world that we're all looking at, that's a ray of good news, that they're actually able to get the exchange open," said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co., a brokerage with operations on the NYSE floor. Barclays Faces $435 Million Fine, Another Probe (WSJ) Barclays aced a double-barreled assault from U.S. authorities, as the federal energy-market regulator sought a record $435 million in penalties for the bank's alleged manipulation of U.S. electricity markets, and the lender also disclosed that it was facing a U.S. anticorruption investigation. The corruption investigation focuses on potential violations during the bank's efforts to raise money from Middle Eastern investors in the early days of the financial crisis. The probe, being conducted by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, is at an early stage. Wells Expands Into Investment Banking As Others Retreat (Reuters) The growth worries some investors who want the notoriously conservative bank to stick to its knitting, but Wells Fargo believes that now is a good time to hire. "Our eyes are wide open," said John Shrewsberry, head of the bank's investment banking and capital markets operations, known as Wells Fargo Securities. "There are a lot of very talented people at different stages of availability," he added in an interview this week. The fourth-largest U.S. bank says it can earn solid returns in investment banking while taking little risk for itself. It is focusing on services that its corporate lending customers need, such as stock and bond underwriting and merger advice. For investors, it is looking at areas like processing futures and swaps trades. The bank shies away from riskier undertakings like trading for its own account. The Wells Fargo Securities unit is relatively small now. It's biggest hub is in Charlotte, North Carolina, far from the storm that has hobbled Wall Street this week. In a few years, the unit could account for twice as much of the firm's revenue as it does now - an estimated 10 percent compared to its current five, Deutsche Bank analyst Matt O'Connor wrote in a report. Sandy's Economic Cost: Up To $50 Billion And Counting (CNBC) By contrast, the two costliest hurricanes in U.S. history to date were Katrina, with estimated losses of $146 billion, and Andrew, with loses estimated at $44 billion. But there are offsets and Moody's Mark Zandi and other economists note that there will be considerable rebuilding that will accompany the storm. Because the storm hit early in the quarter, Zandi points out that if $20 billion is spent cleaning up and rebuilding, the actual measured impact on gross domestic product could be zero. IHS Global Insight U.S. Economists Gregory Daco and Nigel Gault are doubtful. They note that the rebuilding often takes the place of investment elsewhere and often not everything is rebuilt. “The effect on growth for the fourth quarter will not be catastrophic but might still be noticeable, especially in an economy with little momentum anyway,” IHS wrote. The debate begs the question of whether such natural disasters can ultimately stimulate an economy. Eric Strobl, of the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, who has studied the impact of hurricanes for more than a decade, found that hurricanes at the local level are usually negative for growth. NYC Struggles to Come Back to Life as Storm Chaos Lingers (Bloomberg) New York City struggled to return to normal life after superstorm Sandy, managing a partial resumption of mass transit amid a landscape of miles-long traffic jams, widespread blackouts and swarms of marooned residents. Limited service on the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter trains began today, and service on 14 of 23 subway lines will resume tomorrow, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news briefing in Manhattan. Still, power losses kept thousands of people and businesses in the dark and prevented trains from running below 34th Street in Manhattan. Basements and homes were waterlogged or submerged, and 6,300 remained in shelters...The lack of transit options is unprecedented, said Bernie Wagenblast, who has monitored metro traffic for more than 30 years, including stints as a radio reporter on WABC and WINS. “It reminds me a little of back in the ’70s when we had the gas crisis and cars were lined up for long, long distances trying to get gasoline,” Wagenblast said. “Now you’ve got cars in addition to people with their gas cans waiting on line who are trying to get fuel.” In Manhattan, an unofficial line divided the haves with power from the have-nots. South of about 34th Street, far fewer shops or restaurants than usual were open. Traffic lights were inoperable, though an unspoken etiquette emerged as many drivers took turns letting one another pass through intersections. Work was stopped at the Ground Zero construction site, which is still flooded. LaGuardia Airport, the only one of the three major New York-area airports that remains closed, can’t resume flights until floodwaters are drained and ground lights and equipment are checked. Labor Dept. Report on Jobs to Appear Friday as Planned (NYT) The hurricane had shut down government offices on Monday and Tuesday, and threatened to delay the release of the monthly jobs numbers. That led to hand-wringing in the presidential campaigns and even some accusations that the Obama administration might delay the numbers for its political benefit. But a Labor Department spokesman said Wednesday in an e-mail message that the report would come out as planned, at 8:30 a.m. E.S.T. on Friday. The Philadelphia 76ers unveil the world’s largest T-shirt cannon (YS) On opening night, the Sixers [unveiled] Big Bella, the world's largest T-shirt launcher that fires 100 tees in just 60 seconds. Big Bella weighs 600 pounds and, when firing T-shirts into the upper reaches of the Wells Fargo Center, can be up to 10 feet high. The team commissioned the creation of Big Bella from FX in Motion, an entertainment elements company out of New Berlin, Wisc. The team will also drop T-shirts, free game tickets and other promotional items from the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center down to fans below in a new themed "Sixers Parachute Drop." Australia Targets China’s Rich With “Millionaire” Visa (Deal Journal) Got 5 million Australian dollars (US$5.2 million) spare and need a residency visa? Australia’s doors will soon be open. From Nov. 24, Australia will accept applications under a new program, known as the Significant Investor Visa scheme, aimed at attracting the world’s wealthy to make the move and park their money Down Under. The only catch is that the A$5 million must be invested in state and territory Australian government debt, privately-owned Australian companies and managed funds that invest in Australian assets regulated by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission for four years. The new visa has already got financial advisers throughout Australia devising investment solutions for applicants. Consultants expect no shortage of takers especially from China, which is seeing an increasing flow of wealthy citizens sending money overseas, investing in assets as diverse as condos in Cyprus, or education for children overseas. A Wall Street Journal analysis of these flows suggests that in the 12 months through September, about US$225 billion headed out of China, equivalent to about 3% of the nation’s economic output last year. Harvard Business School Survey: HBS Students Favor Obama (Harbus) Surveys completed by 668 members of the HBS student body last week revealed that President Barack Obama had the support of 65% of the student community. Challenger Mitt Romney captured 32% of the vote while the remainder said they supported a third-party candidate, were unsure, or did not plan to vote. A Year After MF Global's Collapse, Brokerage Firms Feel Less Pressure For Change (Dealbook) For their part, many MF Global employees remain chastened by their firm’s collapse. Lawmakers hauled Mr. Corzine, a former senator from New Jersey, to Washington three times to testify before Congressional committees. Some MF Global employees remain unemployed while others took major pay cuts to work for the trustee unwinding the firm’s assets. Several MF Global employees planned to gather on Thursday for drinks at a Midtown Manhattan bar, just blocks from their old firm, to commiserate on their trying year. They canceled the event after another disaster, Hurricane Sandy, left some people stranded without power. Hawaii Tourist Saved By Taekwondo Skills (ABC) A 12-foot-long tiger shark messed with the wrong person. Mariko Haugen, a taekwando black belt, was enjoying a swim in Maui, Hawaii, when she was confronted by the creature. “She saw it a few seconds before it hit – and she gave it her best Tae Kwon Do black belt punch in the nose,” Don Haugen, Mariko’s husband, wrote on Facebook. Haugen’s husband and another man saw the attack and helped carry her to safety. She received more than 100 stitches to close wounds on her right hand and thigh.

Opening Bell: 3.9.16

Hedge fund Higland plans to pile into Argentina debt; Janus Capital says no doomsday ahead; 'I DO NOT HAVE A 10-INCH PENIS': Hulk Hogan admits he embellished manhood in $100M sex tape suit; and more.