Opening Bell: 6.10.15

European officials not having Greece's latest proposal; Jack Ma says being a billionaire is hard; "Police say Plunkett denied throwing the pizza, despite the fact that he was not wearing a shirt and had pizza sauce on his chest and shorts"; and more.
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Greek Proposal Not Acceptable, European Officials Say (WSJ)
uropean officials quickly dismissed a Greek compromise proposal meant to help end a standoff over the country’s bailout program, saying on Tuesday that the offer didn’t go far enough in meeting creditors’ demands...Greece’s proposal includes targets for its primary surplus—the excess of revenues over expenditures before interest payments are made—that are lower than the targets presented to Greece last week in a new proposal from the commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, the three institutions representing Greece’s creditors.

American Billionaire Makes Risky Bet on Greece Debt Deal (Dealbook)
The contrarian American billionaire Wilbur L. Ross Jr. made a bundle betting on the Irish banking system when it was down and out, and a similar wager on Cyprus now looks promising. But Greece may prove to be the toughest test yet of his knack for cashing in on eurozone crisis spots. Mr. Ross, who built his career investing in distressed assets, is the ringleader of a group of investors who last year pumped 1.3 billion euros, or about $1.47 billion, into Eurobank Ergasias, the third-largest bank in Greece.

As Brokerage Preps for IPO, the Negatives Are Lacking (WSJ)
A small New York brokerage planning to sell shares to the public is pitching an unusual business model: It doesn’t allow analysts to issue any negative ratings on the hundreds of stocks they follow. To some, including a former employee who has filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sidoti & Co. Inc.’s business strategy is the latest illustration of how Wall Street research firms may be marred by conflicts of interest and their work influenced by other financial incentives.

Billionaire Jack Ma whines that wealth has made his life ‘tough’ (NYP)
“If I had another life, I would keep my company private,” said Ma, whose stake in Alibaba, which owns a series of Chinese e-commerce site, was valued at $19.1 billion after the initial public offering. Ma’s stake as since grown to $36.9 billion, according to Bloomberg News. “Life is tough when you IPO,” he said in a speech before the Economic Club of New York. “If you have less than $1 million, you know how to spend the money,” he said. But once you top $1 billion, you’re obligated to spend your riches “on behalf of the society.”

Woman Puts Cigarette Out On Reporter's Face (HP)
The alleged assailant, whose name was not reported, was in court to support suspected murderer Stevee Jane Kennedy, Australia's ABC News reports.

Wall St. Courts Start-Ups It Once May Have Ignored (Dealbook)
“Historically, banks have looked at the ‘build versus buy’ decision and have focused on ‘build,’ ” said Stu Taylor, a former banker who co-founded the start-up Algomi, which provides trading tools for banks. Now, Mr. Taylor said, “Not only are there lots of different new entrants in the tech space, the banks are very, very open. You will generally get meetings if you ask for them.”

These Insane, Pimped-Out Vans for CEOs Redefine Commuting (Bloomberg)
...[the] strangest request so far was from the CEO of a NYSE-listed company (which he declines to name) who had moved the firm’s headquarters from one city to another but decided not to move house himself. The corporate relocation added an hour to the executive’s commute each way, squeezing his daily routine so that exercise was almost impossible. “He told me, ‘I can’t imagine living without cardio—can you do an exercise thing for me?’” Becker recalls. So the designer took a recumbent exercise bike and chopped it in half, replacing the standard seat with an alternative that was safety-certified for cars, then wedged the Frankenbike into the back of the SUV. “He could sit back there and pump his little heart out to his heart’s content and still wouldn’t go flying out if there was a front collision.”

How American Apparel Is Taking Sex Out of Its Ads (Bloomberg)
In three slides, American Apparel shows investors exactly how it's ditching the racy ads that were typical under Charney, who was forced out last year and remains at odds with the company he founded in 1989. American Apparel says those kinds of ads went too far in their use of "nudity and blatant sexual innuendo" (indeed, some were banned in the U.K. for being "exploitative" of young women). Instead, the company is now shooting for imagery that's "positive," "inclusive," and "socially conscious."

DoubleLine's Gundlach sees odds of Fed hike by December under 50 percent (Reuters)
The odds of a September interest rate hike "weirdly" have risen, Gundlach said. "I would take the under on that ... I think the odds of raising rates by December is less than 50 percent," he added.

Florida Man Allegedly Threw Hot Slice Of Pizza At Roommate (HP)
Treasure Island man Daniel Allen Plunkett, 50, allegedly threw a slice at his female roommate, "striking her in the left hand," according to an arrest report obtained by The Smoking Gun. "The pizza was hot," according to the June 3 arrest report. Police say Plunkett denied throwing the pizza, despite the fact that he "was not wearing a shirt and had pizza sauce on his chest and shorts," according to the arrest report. Plunkett also claimed the roommate threw pizza at him.

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Opening Bell: 9.20.16

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Opening Bell: 01.23.13

Greece Charges Statisticians Over Size of Deficit (FT) Greece has brought criminal charges against the official responsible for measuring the country's debt, thereby calling into question the validity of its 172 billion euros second bailout by the EU and International Monetary Fund. Andreas Georgiou, head of the independent statistical agency Elstat, and two senior officials are accused of undermining the country's "national interests" by inflating the 2009 budget deficit figure used as the benchmark for successive austerity packages. The three statistical experts face criminal charges of making false statements and corrupt practices, a judicial official said, adding that if found guilty they could serve prison terms of five to 10 years. They have denied any wrongdoing. Spain's Recession Deepens (WSJ) Spain's central bank said a recession in the euro zone's fourth-largest economy deepened slightly in the final quarter of last year, but it said austerity cuts are bringing the country's runaway budget deficit under control. Obama-Bashing Swapped for Pragmatism at Davos (Bloomberg) “We have to move on in our society,” Blackstone found Stephen Schwarzman said today in an interview in Davos with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker. “I like President Obama as a person, and he’s well- intentioned.” Schwarzman, 65, warned in Davos in 2010 that banks could restrict lending because “their entire world is being shaken and they’re being attacked personally.” Later that year, at a nonprofit group meeting, he likened Obama’s tax proposals to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Third Point LLC CEO Daniel Loeb, who in 2010 compared Wall Street’s Obama supporters to “battered wives,” will help lead a Jan. 25 Davos dinner discussion, “Can Capitalism Evolve?” Schwarzman apologized in 2010 for his comparison of Obama’s effort to double taxes on private-equity income to the invasion of Poland. He said the analogy was inappropriate and that the administration’s need to work with business “is still of very serious concern.” JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon Apologizes, Attacks (WSJ) James Dimon of J.P. Morgan Chase was prepared in Davos to apologize for the more than $6 billion of trading losses racked up by the so-called London Whale, but he certainly wasn’t prepared to abase himself...Min Zhu, deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, reeled off a string of statistics to show that the industry certainly hadn’t cleaned up its act since the crisis, and Paul Singer, principal of hedge fund Elliott Associates, was also keen to lambaste big banks, including Mr. Dimon’s. The two had some testy exchanges and the body language indicated that Messrs. Singer and Dimon have exchanged fire quite a few times previously. Still, Mr. Dimon gave us good as he got. He kicked off with repeating his apology to shareholders for the London Whale trading losses, which led to his own bonus being slashed, saying, “If you’re a shareholder of mine, I apologize deeply.” Having offered this apology he then went on the offense. He pointed out that his bank lent money to a whole host of worthy organizations such as schools, hospitals, governments, and Italian and Spanish corporates and governments. And he also had some snappy comebacks. Elliott’s Singer said that the global banks are “too big, too leveraged, too opaque,” which left Mr. Dimon with an easy retort about how could a hedge fund possibly criticize a bank about being opaque? “Our [securities filing] 10K is 400 pages long,” Mr. Dimon said. “What would you like to know?” Geithner Exit Next Friday (AFP) US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who steered the administration of President Obama through the financial crisis, will step down from his post Friday, a source told Agence France Presse yesterday. Golfer Mickelson recants tax rant (NYP) Mickelson — who hinted he might move from his home state of California to escape higher taxes — said he regretted his public rant on the issue after setting off a political firestorm. “Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” according to a statement from Mickelson, who plans to elaborate today at the Farmers Insurance Open. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again.” Senator Lautenberg Suggests Spanking In Store For Mayor Cory Booker (CI via DI) "I have four children, I love each one of them. I can't tell you that one of them wasn't occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK," Lautenberg said with a smile in his first public comments since Booker announced he was considering a run for Senate. Banker's Latest Bet: Teamwork on Bonds (WSJ) Texas banking tycoon Andrew Beal is known for making unconventional moves, including gambling on high-stakes poker and a self-financed plan to launch rockets into space. His latest gambit: an attempt to wring money from giant banks by banding together aggrieved bondholders. Mr. Beal's CXA Corp. ran a pair of advertisements late last year, one appearing in The Wall Street Journal. The ads listed an alphabet soup of residential mortgage-backed securities held by CXA and asked those with positions in the same securities to join the company in investigating possible infractions by banks that sold the debt. If the groups can prove the mortgages that underlie the bonds were approved through shoddy underwriting, they could be entitled to compensation—CXA's payday alone could be tens of millions of dollars. Firms Keep Stockpiles Of 'Foreign' Cash In US (WSJ) Some companies, including Internet giant Google, software maker Microsoft, and data-storage specialist EMC Corp, keep more than three-quarters of the cash owned by their foreign subsidiaries at U.S. banks, held in U.S. dollars or parked in U.S. government and corporate securities, according to people familiar with the companies' cash positions. In the eyes of the law, the Internal Revenue Service and company executives, however, this money is overseas. As long as it doesn't flow back to the U.S. parent company, the U.S. doesn't tax it. And as long as it sits in U.S. bank accounts or in U.S. Treasurys, it is safer than if it were plowed into potentially risky foreign investments. SEC Reins In Ratings Firm (WSJ) The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission barred Egan-Jones Ratings Co. from issuing ratings on certain bonds, an unprecedented step by the regulator and a setback for a small credit-rating firm with a history of courting controversy. The SEC said Tuesday that Egan-Jones couldn't officially rate bonds issued by countries, U.S. states and local governments, or securities backed by assets such as mortgages, for at least the next 18 months. The ban was part of an agreement the SEC reached with Egan-Jones and its president, Sean Egan, to settle charges that they filed inaccurate documents with the regulator in 2008. The SEC alleged that Egan-Jones misled investors about its expertise, and that Mr. Egan caused the firm to violate conflict-of-interest provisions. Lindenhurst dentist busted after reporting to work reeking of booze and drilling teeth while allegedly drunk (NYDN) Dr. Robert Garelick was hauled out of his Lindenhurst office in handcuffs Monday after his dental hygienist smelled booze on his breath and caught him administering Novocain to the wrong side of a patient’s mouth. “I observed Dr. Garelick looking for cavities in the right side of the patient’s mouth, but the cavities were in the left side,” hygienist Kimberly Curtis told police in a written statement. “I pointed this out to the doctor and that’s when he ordered more Novocain for the patient,” Curtis told cops. “So now, he basically numbed the whole patient’s mouth.” After noticing Garelick’s wobbly behavior Monday, Curtis texted co-worker Dina Fara, who called 911. Curtis said she sent the message after Garelick used a drill to treat another patient who had a chipped tooth. “He was filing the tooth down,” Curtis said. “When you’re using that drill, you have to be very careful and have a steady hand.” She said that just before Garelick treated the chipped tooth, he slipped into his office. “I noticed that he was drinking from a white and purple squeeze bottle,” Curtis said. “At first I didn’t think anything was wrong,” Curtis said. “But right after, he took a drink from that bottle, he got up and walked past me. When he did this I smelled a strong odor of alcohol.” The dentist initially claimed he only had a couple of beers with pizza during lunch Monday, according to Suffolk County cops. But Garelick, who was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment, later confessed to his drunken dentistry while being taken to a police precinct in the back of squad car. “I never had any beers with my pizza. I’ve been sipping at that bottle all along today,” he told police, referring to his squeeze bottle filled with vodka, according to a criminal complaint.

By MEDEF [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 10.9.18

IMF getting bearish on the world; Google says "oopsie"; Hard Brexit will blow back on Germans; Cold pizza protest; and more!

Opening Bell: 5.23.16

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Opening Bell: 5.2.16

Warren Buffett trashes Valeant, hedge fund fees; Marissa Mayer gets $55 million if ousted; Now You Can Get Pizza In A Pizza Box Made Out Of Pizza; and more.

Opening Bell: 2.2.16

Veteran dealmakers turn activist investors; Alphabet profit rises; Citigroup says be cool re China; Domino's Pizza Delivery Man Stabs Customer; and more.