Opening Bell: 3.6.15

Stress tests; The next Silicon Valley; Why you should lease a Rolls-Royce ; Emu on the loose; AND MORE.
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Big Banks Pass Muster in Latest Stress Tests (Dealbook)
Some of the 31 banks in this year’s test would emerge from the theoretical shocks with significantly less capital than others. Under the tests, Goldman Sachs fell very close to a minimum requirement for one measure of capital. This may put the firm in the awkward position of having to reduce the amount of money that it had planned to pay out to its shareholders this year. Zions Bancorporation, a regional bank that fared poorly in last year’s tests, also fell very close to a minimum level. Bank of America was well above all the minimum requirements, putting it among Thursday’s clear winners. Unlike last year’s test, this one showed no bank with capital below the minimum, a result that might provide comfort to the Fed as it seeks to make the financial system stronger.

What Is the Next ‘Next Silicon Valley’? (NYT)
The three large counties showing the strongest gain in tech jobs from 2009 to 2013 were San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo — the three counties at the core of Northern California’s tech industry cluster. Orange County, Fla., which contains Orlando, scored 89th out of 214. (The index compares tech jobs added to the overall job base, so it doesn’t discriminate in favor of places with high total populations.) But let’s look at the place that scored fourth on P.P.I.'s list: Utah County, Utah, whose largest city is Provo. In February, The New Yorker proclaimed that Utah is “the next Silicon Valley.” That’s hyperbole, but Provo (population: 116,288) does punch far above its weight; of 73 private venture-funded companies in the world with valuations over $2 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal, Provo is home to two. A large, new National Security Agency facility in the area is adding to the concentration of tech jobs and workers. Provo provides an example of one of two models for competing with Silicon Valley. “There’s a group of people who really want to live there and there’s a really good research university,” says the urban theorist Richard Florida. He’s referring to Brigham Young University and the opportunity to live among a large Mormon community.

Where millionaires are moving—and fleeing—around the world (CNBC)
According to the study, they're leaving China in the largest numbers, with 76,200 Chinese millionaires exiting the country between 2003 and 2013. That's 15 percent of its total millionaire population, according to the report. The second largest millionaire loser is India, which saw 43,400, or 27 percent of its millionaires, leave the country in those 10 years. France ranked third, losing 31,700, or 13 percent of its total. And while Russia gets most of the attention for exiled oligarchs, it ranked fifth, losing 17 percent, or 14,000 millionaires. The country did, however, rank first for the percentage of millionaires who plan to permanently change their country of residence. The most popular place for millionaires to land is the United Kingdom. According to the study, the U.K. gained 114,100 millionaires between 2003 and 2013, making up 14 percent of the country's millionaire total. Singapore gained 45,000, or 20 percent of its total, while the U.S. gained 42,400, representing 1 percent of its millionaires. Australia gained 22,200, or 14 percent.

U.S. Sanctions Over Ukraine Hit Two Russian Banks Hardest (WSJ)
Banks controlled by three billionaire friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin have seen about $640 million of assets frozen in the U.S. as retaliation for the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine, according to U.S. government records. The figures, not previously reported, show the surprising extent to which the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. have pinched the pockets of some of Russia’s most politically connected firms.

Emu on the loose in North Carolina (UPI)
Melvin Smith of Greene County said the emu -- a large, flightless bird native to Australia -- jumped a fence on his property and ran off about 4 p.m. Tuesday when the bird was startled by the noise from a loud piece of farming equipment. Sheriff's deputies have been on the lookout for the female emu and some neighbors reported seeing what they thought was an ostrich looking into their windows Wednesday morning. Smith said he has been spreading food around his property in an attempt to lure the emu home.

Elaine Wynn Launches Bid for Board Seat (WSJ)
It is the latest power struggle at Wynn, which in 2012 forcibly bought out the then-largest shareholder, Kazuo Okada, by redeeming his 20% stake at a 30% discount and removing him from the board. Mr. Okada is fighting to get the shares back. Ms. Wynn, the former wife of CEO Steve Wynn, is the third-largest shareholder, with a 9.4% stake, and has served on the board since 2002. The board decided not to renominate Ms. Wynn, whose term expires April. 24. But on Thursday Ms. Wynn filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission preliminary proxy materials nominating herself to be re-elected.

Apple Pay Stung By Low-tech Fraudsters (WSJ)
The Apple Pay system itself hasn’t been penetrated by hackers. Rather, fraudsters are entering stolen card data into phones, which can then be used to make purchases without a physical card being present.

It Makes More Sense to Lease a Rolls-Royce Than to Buy One (Bloomberg)
Rolls dealers in Southern California—the nation’s largest luxury car market—even go so far as to advertise lease specials on their website. A 2015 Ghost: 60-month lease, $30,000 due at signing, $2,699/month.

Peter Madoff’s Former Home Sells for $3.5 Million (NYT)
The Long Island estate of Peter B. Madoff, the younger brother of Bernard L. Madoff, has been sold for several million dollars less than its original asking price, after years of efforts to find a buyer. The four-acre property, at 34 Pheasant Run in Old Westbury, N.Y., sold for $3.5 million on Wednesday, according to the United States Marshals Service, which took possession of the home in 2013 after Peter Madoff pleaded guilty to crimes related to his brother’s enormous Ponzi scheme. The younger Mr. Madoff, who first listed the property for $6.5 million in 2011, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2012.

NJ cop under investigation for crass Facebook posts about drowned dog (NYDN)
A New Jersey police sergeant is under investigation for posting some callous Facebook comments about a dog that drowned when his owner's truck plunged through river ice, authorities said. "Why didn't the dog do the Doggie Paddle" Seaside Heights Police Sgt. Thomas Yannacone allegedly wrote on his private social media page. "Was his favorite movie Dog Day Afternoon." The dead dog is still at the bottom of Toms River, as is the truck belonging to Andrew Mayer, who has been charged with criminal mischief and reckless driving. Mayer was spinning doughnuts on the frozen river when the ice shattered and his vehicle sank, police said. Yannacone was off duty when the posts went up, according to Det. Steve Korman, the paper reported. His department's Internal Affairs unit is investigating. When his posts started gaining attention, he posted "What, too soon, calm down u animal loving freaks."

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Hedge fund's bet on Obamacare pays off; China wants lots of Silicon Valleys; Banks probed re: FIFA; "Brave topless models defend First Amendment at courthouse"; and more.

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Opening Bell: 6.24.16

Brexit, Brexit, Brexit; Banks pass stress tests; Lindsay Lohan live tweets rant on European Union referendum, attacks 'Brexit' voters; and more.

Opening Bell: 07.25.12

Sandy Weill: Break Up The Big Banks (CNBC) “What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not too big to fail,” Weill told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He added: “If they want to hedge what they’re doing with their investments, let them do it in a way that’s going to be market-to-market so they’re never going to be hit.” Bank Of England Spotted Risks At JPMorgan (WSJ) More than a year before JPMorgan racked up billions of dollars in losses from bad trades in its London investment office, Bank of England officials raised concerns internally about potential risks arising from some of the office's activities, but didn't formally alert other regulators, according to people involved in the central bank's talks. In late 2010, employees at the central bank worried that the London arm of J.P. Morgan's Chief Investment Office had come to dominate some important corners of the city's financial markets—including residential mortgage-backed securities—and they were concerned about the potential impact that could have on the stability of U.K. markets, these people said. The concerns were relayed to a top central-bank oficial. But the Bank of England doesn't appear to have acted on the concerns or flagged them to regulators responsible for supervising J.P. Morgan. Private-equity bigs: no proof of bid-rigging (NYP) A handful of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful private-equity firms have asked a federal judge to toss an explosive investor lawsuit that claims the group conspired to rig the bids on $270 billion in deals over four years. The firms — including KKR, Bain Capital, Blackstone Group and Apollo Global Management — agreed not to bid on specific deals headed by a rival, thus fraudulently depressing the value of the deal. As a result, investors in those publicly-traded companies were short-changed. The group of 11 financial giants named in the suit, including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, claim there is no evidence of a vast bid-rigging conspiracy. New York Fed Faces Questions Over Policing Wall Street (Dealbook) In recent years, the New York Fed has beefed up oversight. Under the president, William C. Dudley, the regulator has increased the expertise of its examiners and hired new senior officials. Even so, the JPMorgan debacle and the interest-rate investigation have raised questions about the New York Fed. They highlight how the regulator is hampered by its lack of enforcement authority and dogged by concerns that it is overly cozy with the banks. Fed Moves Closer To Action (WSJ) Amid the recent wave of disappointing economic news, conversation inside the Fed has turned more intensely toward the questions of how and when to move. Central bank officials could take new steps at their meeting next week, July 31 and Aug. 1, though they might wait until their September meeting to accumulate more information on the pace of growth and job gains before deciding whether to act. Sidekick of Soccer Mom Madam to court: It's not prostitution if you just pay to watch (NYDN) Jaynie Mae Baker, the woman busted with accused Manhattan brothel operator Anna Gristina, revealed in court papers filed Tuesday that the undercover cop who arrested her watched two women have sex but didn’t participate in any. Baker’s lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, says the only recorded conversation in evidence that includes Baker took place July 19, 2011, at a Manhattan restaurant where his client, Gristina and the cop had lunch. The cop tells Baker and Gristina he is “looking for a little adventure" and to “please corrupt me," but there's no talk of arranging payment, Gottlieb says in the filing. Six days later in the sting operation, the cop is secretly videotaped in a room with two other women at Gristina's alleged brothel on E. 78th St., but he does not participate in the sex. “The undercover officer apparently remains fully clothed and merely observed the two women perform for him,” Gottlieb writes...Gottlieb says there “was not a scintilla of evidence that was produced ... establishing Ms. Baker’s involvement in arranging payment in exchange for any kind of sexual activity.” What occurred not prostitution because the undercover cop was not a participant, Gottlieb says. If watching is prostitution, then every strip club and porno director is guilty, too, he said. Germans React Coolly To Moody's Warning (WSJ) Wolf Klinz, a German member of the European Parliament from the pro-business Free Democrats, Ms. Merkel's junior coalition partner, said he doesn't dispute Moody's conclusions about Germany's risks, but rather the timing of the announcement. "There are no hard facts yet" about Germany's ultimate price tag, Mr. Klinz said. "Why come out with this right now? It may have political implications" even if that wasn't the intention, he said. Preet hit with suit by law student (NYP) Second-year law student Benula Bensam sued Bharara, along with the US Marshals Service and the Justice Department, in Manhattan federal court for “unreasonable search and seizure” after the marshals took her cell phone away during the trial of ex-Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta. The 25-year-old Bensam, who is representing herself, said the marshals kept her phone overnight after she refused to answer their questions about letters she wrote to Judge Jed Rakoff during Gupta’s insider-trading trial. Bensam, who attends law school at Yeshiva University and lives in the Woodside section of Queens, stopped writing Rakoff about the case after he reprimanded her. In the complaint, Bensam said Bharara “may have instigated” her dispute with the marshals. Euro Zone as We Know It Has 2 Years Left: Jim O’Neill (CNBC) “Two years maximum is my perception of the time the euro zone has left to survive in its current form, though the reality is probably far less than that. Markets being markets we’ve unveiled a degree of speed with the Spanish and Italian bond yields and I can’t see us getting through the summer without some serious consequences,” said Jim O’Neill, Chairman at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Child Treated After Being Bit By Rabid Bat Woman Gave Go-Ahead To Touch (CBS) Even as the summer fun rolls on for JoJo Keefe, a freshly healed cut on the 10-year-old’s finger reminds her of a scary detour. “I was like oh my God it bit me!” She’s talking about a rabid bat that sunk its tiny teeth into her finger last Tuesday during a visit to the Spencer Town Beach on Lake Whittemore. The small bat was attracting quite a bit of attention on the shoreline just beyond the picnic area. The trouble really began when a woman picked it up and began asking the children gathered around her if they wanted to hold it. “Another little girl said ‘oh I want to hold it will it bite me?’ And the lady was like no it’s the friendliest thing ever,” she says...Her mother retrieved the sick animal which then tested positive for rabies. Soon after, JoJo was getting the first in a series of life saving antibiotic shots (you can’t wait with rabies).

Opening Bell: 07.18.12

BofA Swings To Profit, Topping Analysts' Estimates (WSJ) Bank of America reported a profit of $2.46 billion, compared with a year-earlier loss of $8.83 billion. On a per-share basis, which reflect the payment of preferred dividends, earnings came in at 19 cents from a loss of 90 cents a year earlier. The year-ago quarter's results included a charge of $1.23 a share in mortgage-related and other adjustments. Total revenue surged 66% to $21.97 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of 14 cents a share on $22.87 billion in revenue. The bank's profit was helped by reduced provisions for loan losses as credit quality continued to improve. Credit-loss provisions totaled $1.77 billion compared with $3.26 billion a year ago and $2.42 billion in the first quarter. HSBC Probe Brings Promises Regulator, Bank Will Clean Up Act (Bloomberg) HSBC executives apologized for opening their U.S. affiliate to a river of Mexican drug lords’ cash, and the U.S. regulator that failed to stem the flow vowed to prevent a repeat. “I deeply regret we did not act sooner and more decisively,” Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said at a day-long hearing yesterday of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He said his agency, which regulates HSBC’s U.S. arm, is partially responsible for letting Europe’s largest bank give terrorists, drug cartels and criminals access to the U.S. financial system and will take “a much more aggressive posture.” Opinion: Investing In America Produces The Best Returns, By Lloyd Blankfein (Politico) The question I’m most often asked these days is, “Where should I invest?” In recent years, we all know, there has been an unusually high degree of uncertainty. It falls into two broad categories: cyclical concerns that focus on the outlook for near-term economic growth and structural concerns that center on the viability of existing political or economic systems — for example, the European Union. The cyclical and structural challenges are considerable, and in some cases, even daunting. But when I meet with chief executive officers and institutional investors and they ask me where to invest, my response is that the United States remains as attractive as ever. And it would be even more attractive if it can make some short-term progress in a few key areas. Hugh Hendry: ‘Bad Things are Going to Happen’ (FT) Hendry believes that financial markets are single-digit years away from a crash that will present investors with opportunities of a lifetime. “Bad things are going to happen and I still think the closest analogy is the 1930s.” For Yahoo CEO, Two New Roles (WSJ) Just hours after Yahoo named Marissa Mayer as its new chief, the real conversation kicked in: how she will juggle pregnancy and being the CEO charged with saving a foundering Internet giant. The 37 year-old former Google executive is expecting her first child, a son, in early October. On Tuesday, she started her new job at Yahoo, which reported another quarter of lackluster sales growth...No Yahoo directors expressed concern about her pregnancy, according to Ms. Mayer, who told the board in late June, about a week after Yahoo's recruiter contacted her. She says she plans to work during her maternity leave, which will last several weeks...Ms. Mayer's husband, Zachary Bogue, a former attorney, is co-managing partner at Data Collective, an early-stage venture capital fund specializing in tech start-ups. JFK jet in laser scare (NYP) A lunatic aimed a powerful laser beam at an airliner flying over Long Island on its way into JFK — sending the pilot to the hospital and endangering the lives of the 84 people aboard. The first officer on JetBlue Flight 657 from Syracuse was treated for injuries to both eyes after the blinding flash of light lit up the cockpit Sunday night — as the FBI and Suffolk cops hunted for the person responsible, who could face federal prison time. The Embraer E190 jet landed safely, and the injured pilot — identified by sources as First Officer Robert Pemberton, 52 — was met at the gate and taken to Jamaica Hospital. Authorities believe the beam came from around West Islip, Babylon or Lindenhurst. “You wouldn’t think a pen laser would go that far of a distance,” said shocked West Babylon resident Cindy Konik, 50...A startled co-pilot, who was not identified, immediately took over the controls from his temporarily blinded colleague. “We just got lasered up here — two green flashes into the cockpit,” the captain radioed controllers at Ronkonkoma. Credit Suisse Sets Capital Plan (WSJ) moved Wednesday to stanch recent concerns about its financial strength, saying it is raising capital through the sale of convertible bonds, more divestments and the launch of another cost-savings program. It is a surprise twist in a spat with the country's central bank, which recently warned that Switzerland's number two bank wasn't strong enough to withstand a major crisis. Credit Suisse initially rejected the central bank's criticism, saying it was among the world's best-capitalized banks. This didn't impress investors, who offloaded their shares, wiping out 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.05 billion) in market value. At one point last month the bank even felt compelled to reassure investors that it was profitable in the second quarter, even though profitability over the period was never in doubt. Strong Possibility Of Further Fed Easing By September: Goldman (CNBC) In a testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered no new hints that the central bank is planning more easing, but repeated a pledge that the Fed “is prepared to take further action as appropriate to promote stronger economic recovery.” “While we think that a modest easing step is a strong possibility at the August or September meeting, we suspect that a large move is more likely to come after the election or in early 2013, barring rapid further deterioration in the already-cautious near term Fed economic outlook,” Goldman Sachs conomist Andrew Tilton said in a report. BlackRock's Net Slips 11% (WSJ) BlackRock reported a profit of $554 million, or $3.08 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $619 million, or $3.21 a share. Stripping out one-time items, per-share earnings rose to $3.10 from $3. Revenue slipped 5% to $2.23 billion. Analysts expected earnings of $3.01 a share on $2.26 billion in revenue, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters. BNY Mellon profit falls 37 percent on litigation charge (Reuters) Bank of New York Mellon Corp said on Wednesday that second-quarter net income had fallen 37 percent on lower foreign exchange revenue and after it paid $212 million to settle an investor lawsuit. The world's largest custody bank reported net income of $466 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with $735 million, or 59 cents a share, a year earlier. As announced earlier this month, the results included an after-tax charge of $212 million to settle an investor lawsuit accusing the bank of imprudently investing their cash in a risky debt vehicle that collapsed in 2008. Quarterly revenue fell to $3.62 billion from $3.85 billion. Residents warned: 6-foot lizard loose in Colorado (AP) A sheriff has warned residents in a tourist town northwest of Colorado Springs that a strong, aggressive 6-foot lizard that eats small animals — including dogs and cats — is on the loose in the area. Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensinger said Tuesday that a 25-pound pet Nile monitor lizard has gone missing after breaking a mesh leash and crawling away. Ensinger said about 400 homes in the Woodland Park area were warned. He added that the animal, which escaped Monday and is known as Dino, has not bitten any humans — yet. "We have a 6-foot reptile out and about," Ensinger said. "If it gets hungry enough, we don't know what it will do." Ensinger said officers may use a tracking dog if Dino isn't located by Tuesday afternoon. "I'm not going after it," Ensinger said. "I don't do reptiles."