Opening Bell: 1.26.15

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Greece Must Repay Debt, Europe Officials Say (WSJ)
Europe’s establishment moved quickly on Monday to douse hopes it would relax the terms of Greece’s bailout following the commanding victory by antiausterity leftists in its election, insisting that Athens honor its commitments. “We believe Greece has accepted terms that are not off the table after the election day,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin. Asked in Brussels whether Greece could expect more leniency from the eurozone, the head of the currency’s bloc’s conference of finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was blunt: “I don’t think there is a lot of support for that in the eurozone,” he said.

Tsipras Forges Anti-Austerity Coalition in EU Challenge (Bloomberg)
Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as Greek prime minister and handed a mandate to form a government that will challenge international creditors over the budget cuts he said had heaped humiliation on the country. Tsipras’s Syriza party and the Independent Greeks announced plans for an anti-austerity coalition in Athens on Monday after Syriza won an emphatic election victory by harnessing a public backlash against years of job losses and hardship. In a post-election speech, Tsipras said his priority is “for Greece and its people to regain their lost dignity.”

New Yorkers Told to Stay Home as 2 Feet of Snow Forecast (Bloomberg)
New York officials told residents to stay at home as a blizzard forecasters call “life-threatening” may dump as much as two feet of snow from New York to Boston. Northern New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and large parts of southern New England to Boston may receive as much as 24 inches (60 centimeters) of snow, the National Weather Service said in its latest advisory. The storm has already caused more than 1,800 flight cancellations and will probably block road and rail traffic, close schools and knock out power across the U.S. Northeast.

Hedge Funds Bet Oil Will Fall Further (Bloomberg)
Hedge funds boosted bearish wagers on oil to a four-year high as U.S. supplies grew the most since 2001. Money managers increased short positions in West Texas Intermediate crude to the highest level since September 2010 in the week ended Jan. 20, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Net-long positions slipped for the first time in three weeks.

Bonuses could jump 50 percent for top traders (NYP)
The top traders on the most profitable trading desks will see their bonuses skyrocketing by as much as 50 percent from 2013 levels in a new formula that sees fellow traders with smaller trading profits being docked a similar stunning proportion, according to a Wall Street recruiter. “The No. 1 thing I have noticed is the spread between the haves and have-nots this year,” said Peter Tannenbaum, CEO of Ramax Search, which places professionals at banks, brokerages, hedge funds, private-equity firms and other parts of the Street. “In the past, maybe 30 out of a 50-person team, for example, would share 70 percent of the bonus pool. That’s changing — firms recognize the need to keep the top 10 percent to 20 percent really happy, and then kind of figure out what to do with the rest.” Tannenbaum says it’s tough love for the underdogs. “Those second-tier guys are going to leave anyway,” he told The Post. “Their compensation could be down as much as 50 percent.”

Parent complains about 'Po Pimp' homework assignment (UPI)
Scott Tolleson appeared before a school board in Newton County, Ga., after his son showed him a homework assignment featuring a sentence about "Po Pimp," a hit song by rap group Do or Die. "Try to explain to a fourth-grader what 'Po Pimp' is," Tolleson told WSB-TV. The assignment, part of an English language-arts class, dealt with sentence structure and relationship of ideas, including concepts of compare and contrast, sequence, and cause and effect. The sentence in question dealt with a chronological series of career milestones by rap artist Twista, including his appearance in the "Po Pimp" video in 1996. Tolleson said that after watching the video for "Po Pimp," he was disturbed by the song's references to illegal activity and the objectification of women. "It was very upsetting to my family when we saw this," Tolleson said. "My wife was left in tears at the kitchen table." Aside from the song's content, Tolleson asked the school board if "this kind of slang is appropriate in language arts." "We take great care to review documents selected by our curriculum teams," Samantha Fuhrey, superintendent for Newton County schools, said in a statement. "Unfortunately we missed this item."

As Commodities Fall, Some Investors See Reasons to Buy (WSJ)
...some investors see the seeds of a recovery in daily reports of plunging prices. They are buying some of the hardest-hit commodities, in a bet that low prices will quickly force producers to cut back, erasing the global surpluses behind the multi-year slide. Many of these money managers acknowledge that a rebound may still be months off but say they are willing to endure some short-term losses rather than miss an opportunity to get in early on the next rally. And though analysts predict months, or even years, of low prices for some commodities, bullish investors take heart that while many observers saw signs that the decadelong commodity boom was nearing an end, few predicted the extent to which prices would crash.

Stan Chart Said to Hire Firm to Find New CEO This Year (Bloomberg)
Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) hired executive search firm Egon Zehnder to find a successor to Chief Executive Officer Peter Sands, according to a person with knowledge of the process. Standard Chartered’s largest shareholders have told the bank they want Sands, 53, replaced, a second person familiar with the matter said, who asked not to be identified because the succession plan is private. Investors would prefer a candidate from outside the firm, such as an executive at emerging-markets-focused lender HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), the person said.

NY insider trading ruling tests prosecutors beyond Wall Street (Reuters)
A court ruling that sharply curtailed the ability of prosecutors including Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to pursue insider trading cases is increasingly testing regulators' abilities across the country. Defendants in California and Massachusetts have sought to take advantage of a December ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that narrowed the definition of insider trading, making it harder for prosecutors to pursue their cases. The challenges raise the possibility that the 2nd Circuit decision, legally binding only in New York, Connecticut and Vermont, could be adopted by other jurisdictions nationally or could create a split among the federal courts.

Victor Thompson, Man Whose Head Is Covered In Patriots Tattoos, Wanted On Narcotics Charge (HP)
Victor Thompson, whose head is thoroughly covered in New England Patriots tattoos, had an arrest warrant issued by a Florida judge after failing to show up in court on Thursday, The Smoking Gun reports. The 46-year-old, who is facing a charge of felony narcotics possession, had also skipped out on a hearing about the case on January 8. Thompson’s tats — which include the brand name of Tom Brady’s helmet plastered across his forehead — have helped him make headlines before. Thompson was arrested in St. Petersburg, Florida in September for possession of Spice, or synthetic marijuana. Thompson allegedly told cops he thought it was OK to have the fake weed because it was legal in his home state of New Hampshire and he had only been in Florida for three weeks, according to WMUR.

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Greece's Conservatives Start Coalition Talks (WSJ) Greece's conservative leader Antonis Samaras, whose New Democracy party came first in a crucial election Sunday, is set to meet the main opposition leader, radical left Syriza's Alexis Tsipras, to start the formal process of coalition-building talks. Mr. Samaras saw the Greek president of the republic earlier Monday and received the formal mandate to start coalition-building talks, as his party is 21 seats shy of an absolute majority in the 300-seat parliament. The talks with Mr. Tsipras are purely a formality, as the radical left leader made it plain Sunday night that he wouldn't join a coalition with New Democracy. "Don't expect any surprises, this is a formal procedure. Mr. Samaras has to see the leader of the second party first, that's the protocol," Syriza's spokesman said. Greek Election Defuses One Crisis, but More Lurk (NYT) “Unless they make a radical change, we will be back with another Greek cliffhanger in three or four months’ time,” said Darren Williams, a European economist at AllianceBernstein in London. Wilbur Ross: Real Question For Greece Is What Now (CNBC) Ross also said the government has to improve tax collection for a more permanent solution to the country’s debt problems and said higher revenues would allow the country to ease up on austerity measures. “The tax avoidance in Greece — including by government officials — is ridiculous. The black economy is a ridiculously high percentage,” he said. “Those are the problems they have to deal with and if they can deal with those than more limited austerity is what’s needed.” Europe Gets Emerging Market Crisis Ultimatum As G-20 Meet (Bloomberg) As elections in Greece reduced the immediate risk of the euro area’s breakup, China and Indonesia signaled growing exasperation with more than two years of European crisis- fighting that has failed to stem the threat of global contagion. World Bank President Robert Zoellick said that policy makers bungled their attempt to rescue Spain’s banks. CUNY biz school fixed Wall Streeters' GPAs to keep receiving tuition (NYP) An internal CUNY probe found the course grades of “approximately 15 students” were falsified to keep their GPAs high enough to stay in the programs, Baruch officials acknowledged. The trickery prevented enrollees, including many mid-level Wall Streeters whose firms picked up their tabs, from flunking out — and kept their tuition checks flowing in. The accelerated “executive programs” in business and finance allow students to earn a master’s degree in 10 to 22 months while working full-time. The tuition: $45,000 to $75,000. Baruch has referred the matter to law-enforcement agencies, the college said in a statement. Spokeswoman Christina Latouf would not say if students knew their grades were being changed or were complicit in the scheme. But Baruch has started calling some recent graduates with disturbing news: Their sheepskins are invalid. “What do you mean? My diploma’s on my wall. How can you tell me I don’t have a degree?” one grad said, according to a source...Zicklin officials gave a sales pitch for prospective students last week, but directors and professors made no mention of the problems. Instead, they promised “respected and well-recognized” degrees that would put grads on the path to become chief executives and financial officers. “This is a master’s program on steroids,” one said. Pressure Mounts On Credit Suisse Chief (FT) Investors and analysts have already grown impatient in the past 12 months over Mr Dougan’s efforts to improve the bank’s profitability and cost base, which are lagging behind rivals in Europe. Although they do not question Mr. Dougan’s credentials as a bank manager, they say that a capital raising now would make it difficult for him to stay in his job. Not only would shareholders resent the dilution, but the change of tack would undermine his strategy in recent years of making generous dividend payouts, in contrast to rivals, which have used a larger share of profits to boost capital. Dollar Shortage Seen In $2 Trillion Gap Says Morgan Stanley (Bloomberg) After falling to an all-time low of 60.5 percent in the second quarter of last year, the dollar’s share of global reserves rose 1.6 percentage points to 62.1 percent in December, the latest International Monetary Fund figures show. The buying has left the private sector with $2 trillion less than it needs, according to investment-flow data by Morgan Stanley, which sees the dollar gaining 8.2 percent in 2012, the most in seven years. App Developers Too Young To Drive (WSJ) Paul Dunahoo went on a business trip to San Francisco last week, where he attended technical sessions at Apple Inc.'s AAPL +0.45% developer conference, networked with other programmers and received feedback from Apple engineers on his six productivity apps. Then, Mr. Dunahoo, chief executive of Bread and Butter Software LLC, returned to Connecticut to get ready for the eighth grade. "It's a very rare opportunity" to be at Apple's conference, said Mr. Dunahoo, who is 13 years old and wears red braces. Mr. Dunahoo is one of a growing number of teens joining the app-making frenzy. Apple, the app industry's ringleader, is encouraging the trend. Fitch Cuts India Credit Rating To Outlook Negative (Reuters) "A significant loosening of fiscal policy, which leads to an increase in the gross general government debt /GDP ratio, would result in a downgrade of India's sovereign ratings," Fitch said in a statement on Monday. Woman claims Southwest wouldn't let her board plane because of her cleavage: report (NYDN) Southwest Airlines was forced to apologize to a woman who was told she couldn't board her flight because her cleavage was "inappropriate." Jezebel reports that the woman, Avital — she only gave her first name — was boarding a 6 a.m. flight from Las Vegas to New York on June 5 when a ticket agent remarked that she couldn't fly unless she covered her breasts. Clad in a comfy cotton dress, a baggy flannel shirt and bright scarf, Avital ignored the warning and marched aboard anyway. "I didn't want to let the representative's Big Feelings about my breasts change the way I intended to board my flight," she told Jezebel. "And lo and behold, the plane didn't fall out of the sky... my cleavage did not interfere with the plane's ability to function properly." Avital slammed the Southwest for "slut shaming," and said a man on her flight had on a provocative piece of clothing, but wasn't hassled. "The guy sitting in front of me on the plane was wearing a shirt with an actual Trojan condom embedded behind a clear plastic applique and had no trouble getting on his flight," she said.