Opening Bell: 3.5.15

Wolves; Stress tests; Pot offices; Billionaire Bahamas Brawl; Sharks; AND MORE.
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Watchdog’s Hunt Is Short on ‘Wolves’ (WSJ)
Slammed by a state regulator last year for his alleged “unethical and unscrupulous” treatment of an 81-year old investor, Mr. Veale might seem a likely candidate for the “High Risk Broker” program run by Wall Street’s self-regulator, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Launched two years ago, Finra’s High Risk Broker fast-track enforcement program targets individuals with large numbers of disciplinary red flags and a “legacy of being associated with risky firms,” a spokeswoman said. But Mr. Veale, 42 years old, and other former Stratton Oakmont employees aren’t among the 131 brokers barred as a result of the program, the Finra spokeswoman said. She wouldn’t say if any of Stratton Oakmont’s former employees have been classified as high risk under the program.

Citigroup CEO under pressure over ‘stress test’ results (NYP)
The results of Thursday’s stress test from the Federal Reserve could include a “false positive” for Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat, whose job hangs in the balance if the central bank doesn’t approve his plan to increase its profit-sharing plans, Mike Mayo, analyst at CLSA, told The Post. The results of the Fed’s stress test come in two parts — a quantitative review of capital ratios on Thursday after the market close, and a more in-depth dive into the largest banks, including JPMorgan and Bank of America, that comes out March 11. That second review, called the comprehensive capital analysis and review, or CCAR, is make-or-break for Citi’s CEO Corbat, who didn’t convince regulators that his bank had a good enough risk-assessment policy last stress test, Mayo said. “We’re six days away from finding out whether the CEO of Citigroup has a job,” said Mayo, who is including a countdown to March 11 on his notes to investors.

ECB Keeps Rates Unchanged (Bloomberg)
The European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged at record lows as investors wait for President Mario Draghi to reveal more details of his 1.1 trillion-euro ($1.2 trillion) bond-buying plan. The 25-member Governing Council left the main refinancing rate at 0.05 percent at its meeting on Thursday in Nicosia. The decision was predicted by all 54 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The deposit rate remained at minus 0.2 percent and the marginal lending rate at 0.3 percent.

Nygard and Bacon’s billionaire Bahamas battle heats up (NYP)
Bacon, the founder of New York-based Moore Capital Management, has been locked in a bitter decade-long property-line dispute with Nygard, his next-door neighbor in the posh Bahamas neighborhood of Lyford Cay. Most of Nygard’s lavish estate was destroyed in a 2009 fire after years of complaints from Bacon about loud parties and illegal dredging that, Bacon claimed, threatened an environmental disaster. This week, lawyers for Bacon alleged that Nygard has orchestrated press coverage in the Bahamas and elsewhere that accused Bacon of setting the fire — a charge Bacon denies. “Mr. Bacon had absolutely no involvement in the fire at Nygard Cay,” Bacon’s lawyers wrote in the court papers, referring to the name given by Nygard to his beach compound. Both deep-pocketed men have accused each other of trying to enlist the Bahamian government in their campaigns against each other. Citing a YouTube video titled, “Nygard Takes Bahamas Back 2012,” following the Prime Minister’s election, Bacon charged that it was meant to “give the impression that Nygard could act with impunity in the Bahamas,” according to the suit.

Sony's Amy Pascal Delays Office Move Due to Seth Rogen Pot Stench (THR)
Though Amy Pascal is beginning her transition from Sony Pictures co-chair to on-the-lot producer, her new office space plans might be up in smoke, at least temporarily. Sources say Pascal is unable to move into her new suite that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg most recently occupied because the stench of marijuana cannot be easily removed. The offices — a plum spot that once housed Pascal's late boss, John Calley — will be repainted in an effort to eradicate the smell...Rogen is an outspoken pot aficionado and once told Elle magazine: "I guess I could say I have a terrible case of I-wanna-smoke-weed-all-day." Rogen and Goldberg's neighbors had long complained of the smell emanating from their first-floor offices. One frequent visitor says the fumes could be smelled on the third floor of the building.

Kleiner ex-partner Pao to testify in own Silicon Valley bias case (Reuters)
Former venture capitalist Ellen Pao could take the stand as early as Thursday in her gender discrimination lawsuit against her previous employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, giving testimony that will likely make or break the case. Questioning Pao provides the best opportunity for each side to clinch their arguments, but it is also extremely risky, according to employment law attorneys following the trial. The lawsuit, which the former Kleiner Perkins partner filed in 2012 against the venture capital firm, has helped spark a broad and ongoing discussion about sexism in Silicon Valley. To win, Pao needs "to come across as extra-capable," said Kathleen Lucas, a San Francisco attorney who represents employees. "I don't think she necessarily has to be likeable."

Warren Buffett: 'I Consider Myself a Journalist' (Bloomberg)
“I consider myself a journalist to some extent,” the 84-year-old billionaire said in a video interview premiering Thursday night as part of the “Iconic Voices” series at Arizona State University. “I say, ‘Is the Washington Post Co. worth $22 a share?’ in 1973. I say, ‘Is the BNSF railroad worth us paying $34 billion?’ I assign myself the story. It’s my working hypothesis that it is. But then I go and look for the facts.”

Obesity Is Hurting the U.S. Economy in Surprising Ways (Bloomberg)
As a panel of scientists considers ways to help Americans trim down, unpublished research shows medical expenses linked to being extremely overweight have skyrocketed. Experts say the damage is augmented by reduced productivity, wider gender and income inequality and even higher transportation costs.

‘Selfie’ Shtick Focuses on Dividends (WSJ)
They’re called selfies, and they are making professional fund managers here nervous. The expanding ranks of Australians who manage their own pension savings are helping drive stocks to levels not seen since the global financial crisis. Together they control more than 568 billion Australian dollars (US$444 billion) of the country’s A$1.9 trillion in pension assets. Selfies are putting a flood of cash into everything from banks to pizza makers, pushing some valuations to heights more common for U.S. technology companies. Much of the new money is going into so-called defensive stocks—such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia and telecommunications operator Telstra Corp. —which typically pay out a high proportion of their earnings as dividends and are considered relatively steady investments.

Aquarium worker proposes from inside shark tank (UPI)
A fish keeper at an Arizona aquarium surprised his girlfriend with an underwater marriage proposal when he asked the question from inside a shark tank. The worker at Sea Life Aquarium in Tempe, identified only as Evan, enlisted the help of colleagues at the facility to have his girlfriend, Jessica, brought to the tank where sharks and eels are kept so he could surprise her by unfolding a sign with his marriage proposal. "Of all the fish in the sea, you are the only one for me. Jessica, will you marry me?" the sign read. Jessica enthusiastically accepted the proposal, resulting in congratulations from the strangers who took a break from looking at fish to witness the unusual question-popping.

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