Opening Bell: 6.23.15

Ben Bernanke says keep Hamilton on 10 dollar bill; Ackman launches $1B bond; Short sellers are lonely; P. Diddy beats son's coach with a kettlebell; and more.
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Ex-Fed chief: Keep Alexander Hamilton on $10 bill (NYP)
Former Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke took to the Web on Monday to rebuke Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew for threatening to replace Alexander Hamilton with a woman on newly designed $10 bills, suggesting Andrew Jackson be replaced on the $20 bill instead. While Hamilton was a United States founding father who established a predecessor to the Fed and founded The New York Post, Jackson, the seventh president, didn’t trust paper currency, abolished the Second US Bank, and lead a genocide against Native Americans. “Replace Andrew Jackson, a man of many unattractive qualities and a poor president, on the twenty dollar bill,” Bernanke said in a blog post.

Citadel Makes Swaps Inroads (WSJ)
Citadel LLC has emerged as a top dealer in U.S. interest-rate swaps, becoming one of the first nonbank firms to step into a breach created by postcrisis rules overhauling trading in those derivatives. The Chicago hedge-fund firm’s Citadel Securities unit has the largest market share by number of trades and the third largest by dollar volume in the second quarter, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal showing the firm’s rankings on a swaps platform operated by Bloomberg LP.

Suit Sheds Light on Secret Trading Technology (WSJ)
At the core of the dispute is a methodology designed by Ashbury that helps predict “how stock prices would move, largely based on economic information and extrapolations from companies’ network of customer-supplier relationships,” the complaint says. Ashbury’s system helps an investor accurately model the impact of disparate events on publicly traded companies using supply-chain analysis, according to court documents. For instance, it might help a company predict what would happen to Intel Corp.’s share price if International Business Machine Corp. sees a drop in sales. A 2010 white paper by its creators said the system uses similar tools to how Google ranks pages on the Internet alongside a branch of mathematics called graph theory to “provide a meaningful, consistent analysis of the economy over the long term and ultimately provide a basis for alpha generation.” An innovation in the system was its ability to estimate values that weren’t publicly available, Ashbury said in court documents.

Bill Ackman launches $1B bond in effort to take on big target (NYP)
The hedge fund on Monday announced the launch of senior notes. While it did not say how large the offering was, banking sources said it was about $1 billion — though jitters in Europe about Greece had raised uncertainty about the amount...Ackman plans to use the debt proceeds to help the fund take on a big target, according to an individual who was on a conference call for potential investors earlier this month.

Diddy charged with assaulting son’s football coach (NYP)
The university confirmed the incident Monday saying, “Shortly after 12:30 p.m. today, Sean Combs (also known as P. Diddy) was arrested at UCLA’s Acosta Athletic Training Complex on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, which was a kettlebell. No one was seriously injured and UCPD is investigating.”

Dealbreaker Dramatic Reading Night Returns Wednesday (DB)
Buy your ticket now.

The Loneliness of the Short-Seller (Dealbook)
For some, they are the scourge of Wall Street. Yet short-sellers — investors who stake bets against stocks — are often the first to sound the alarm on a market’s froth or a company’s fraud. Now, six years into a bull market run, with stocks in the United States smashing one record after another, these naysayers have all but lost their voice. William A. Ackman, who has yet to prevail in a billion-dollar bet against Herbalife, said he would “think very hard” before making another short bet. James S. Chanos, the short-seller who helped expose Enron, and who has long been seen as the fiercest of the short-selling bears, is now adding a fund that will instead focus on buying stocks. “Short-selling is an incredibly lonely proposition,” Mr. Ackman said in an interview.

Planet Fitness Files To Go Public (Dealbook)
Last year, Planet Fitness reported $37.3 million in profit on $279.8 million in revenue, both up from a year earlier. In the prospectus, Planet Fitness listed a preliminary $100 million fund-raising target, a figure meant to determine listing fees. It will eventually trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PLNT.

Twitter’s CEO Search Rules Out Dorsey If He Stays at Square (Bloomberg)
Twitter Inc. said it is seeking a chief executive who can make a full-time commitment to the company, ruling out interim chief Jack Dorsey as long as he remains in the top job at Square Inc.

Naked, drunken Ohio couple arrested after joyride (NYDN)
An Ohio couple was busted after a drunken, naked joyride — but that wasn’t the end of the night, authorities said. Kenneth Gillespie followed up the arrest by urinating in the back of a patrol car, according to Westlake police. His partner in crime, Alexandria Mauer, was released to a sober relative only to be arrested again less than an hour later, wandering down the side of the road. The hijinks began about 12:20 a.m. on Saturday. An overnight worker spotted the two standing sans clothes next to a car in a company parking lot, authorities said. The worried witness tipped off police after watching them drive off, hopping a curb and barreling through a lawn as they went. Westlake officers stopped the duo nearby. Mauer, 24, of Bay Village, was eating a slice of pizza in the driver’s seat “without a stitch on,” police Capt. Guy Turner said. Gillespie, 33, of Cleveland, was cradling an open beer between his feet, he said. Officers ordered them to get out of the car and put some clothes on. Gillespie, who was on probation for a drug conviction, could only partially comply because he had only a sweatshirt and underwear, authorities said. Police booked him on charges of disorderly conduct while intoxicated and indecent exposure. They gave him a pair of old jail pants and shoes to wear when he was released later Saturday morning.

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Opening Bell: 4.16.15

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Opening Bell: 04.23.12

IMF And World Bank Meetings End With Little Agreement (NYT) To be sure, the additional $430 billion in lending capacity contributed by developed economies like Japan, Britain, Saudi Arabia and South Korea was seen as a major achievement. The contributions came after I.M.F. economists determined that countries around the world might require up to $1 trillion in new loans because of the combined effects of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and sluggish global economic growth. The I.M.F. agreed to raise about half that amount if Europe would raise the other half. But finance ministers are still at odds over the effect of debt reduction on economic growth. Geithner urges 'aggressive' action to fight financial crisis (DowJones) US Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner said Saturday that the eurozone needed stronger action from authorities, including the European Central Bank, to tame a potential deterioration in the debt crisis. "The success of the next phase of the crisis response will hinge on Europe's willingness and ability, together with the European Central Bank, to apply its tools and processes creatively, flexibly and aggressively to support countries as they implement reforms and stay ahead of markets," Geithner told the International Monetary Fund's policy steering committee. Hedge Fund Short-Sellers to Target Wal-Mart Mexico (Reuters) Hedge fund managers are bracing for selling pressure in shares of Wal-Mart Stores on Monday, but market experts said it is the retail giant's less visible Mexican unit that could be the more attractive target for short sellers. The New York Times reported on Saturday that Wal-Mart de Mexico, which is 69 percent owned by Wal-Mart Stories, had orchestrated a widespread bribery campaign in 2005 to win market dominance. The investigative article alleged that senior Wal-Mart executives knew about the matter and tried to cover it up. "I would not consider Wal-Mart shares expensive, but I definitely would not be a buyer at these levels in the 60s. I'm more interested in shorting the Mexico traded 'pure play,'" said private activist investor Daniel Yu, who has presciently shorted such stocks including Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Sino-Forest. Wal-Mart said in a statement on Saturday that it was "deeply concerned" about the allegations in the Times report and began an investigation into its compliance with anti-bribery laws last autumn. MF Global Customers Press JPMorgan For Funds (WSJ) In a letter set to be sent to regulators and lawmakers on Monday, an MF Global customer group calls for J.P. Morgan to "return hundreds of millions of dollars in MF Global customer funds transferred" to J.P. Morgan in late October. The group, called the Commodity Customer Coalition, urged U.S. officials to "demand" that the New York bank "disgorge all MF Global customer property immediately." J.P. Morgan is cooperating with the ongoing investigation, has said it did nothing wrong and lost some of its own money in the Oct. 31 bankruptcy because it was a creditor of MF Global. Vietnam Funds Beat India, China in Attracting Investors (Bloomberg) Vietnam-focused stock funds became the only emerging market equity assets in Asia to lure investors every week this year as the nation’s benchmark index rose to an 11-month high, Emerging Portfolio Fund Research said. Table Hockey, on Ice Since Heyday in 1970s, Makes a Comeback (WSJ) Carter Campbell leaned over the stick-figure hockey players, loosening up his wrists and hopping from one foot to the other. The 14-year-old's cap was turned around. His iPod blared tunes from the classic-rock band Rush. Across from him, 35-year-old, No. 1 ranked table hockey champ Mark Sokolski hunched over his own players. "I'm gonna stomp this kid," Mr. Sokolski said. At stake was a slot in the elite eight of this year's Canadian Table Hockey Championships, the best-attended North American tournament that the game has seen in decades. Across the U.S. and Canada, a resurgence of table hockey is under way, drawing younger players and women to a sport that has long been the domain of older men in their basements reliving a game that hasn't been popular since they were kids. Global Crisis Not Over, China Reforms to Go On: Wen (Reuters) The global financial crisis is not over and technical innovation and investment will be key to sustaining what remains a "tortuous" recovery, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Sunday during a visit to Germany. Wen also said China, the world's biggest exporter and second largest economy, would press on with reforms aimed at creating better legal protection for foreign investors — a major concern for the growing number of German firms active in the country. Buffett Joined by 12 Families Pledging Wealth to Charity (Bloomberg) Twelve families promised to donate most of their wealth to philanthropy, joining the Giving Pledge initiative started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. The families include hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman and his wife Karen, Tesla Motors Inc.’s billionaire owner Elon Musk and film producer Steve Bing, according to an e-mailed statement from the initiative. Arthur M. Blank, Edgar M. Bronfman, Glenn and Eva Dubin, Red and Charline McCombs, Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman, John and Ginger Sall, Henry and Susan Samueli, John A. and Susan Sobrato, John Michael Sobrato, and Ted and Vada Stanley also signed the pledge. Aiming for Clarity, Fed Still Falls Short in Some Eyes (NYT) But as Mr. Bernanke prepares to meet the press for the fifth time Wednesday afternoon, after a scheduled meeting of the Fed’s policy-making committee on Tuesday and Wednesday, there are reasons to doubt that the efforts are increasing public understanding of monetary policy. Experts and investors have continued to disagree about the plain meaning of the Fed’s recent policy statements. Some say the increased volume of communication is creating cacophony rather than clarity. Political criticism of the Fed has continued unabated. Man's nightmare since NYPD labeled him ‘Gentleman Groper’ (NYP) A citywide manhunt ensued after four Manhattan women were fondled in tony neighborhoods in a 35-day stretch. On April 13, authorities paraded their main suspect past snapping cameras. He defied the conventional image of a creepy perv. He was young, handsome, well-dressed, affluent, educated, a churchgoer. A gentleman groper. That suspect, Karl Vanderwoude, says if the scene seemed implausible — that’s because it was. “I didn’t do it. I wasn’t even in the vicinity of these incidents,” he said in his first interview since his arrest. “It’s a case of mistaken identity.” The 26-year-old Bible-study leader’s nightmare began 10 days ago, when he left early from his job as an operations coordinator at a Flatiron District private equity firm because he felt sick. He was in his Park Slope apartment for about an hour when the doorbell rang. “I thought it was my roommate who had been locked out and forgot his keys, which has happened, so I go to answer the door,” he recalled. Instead, two NYPD detectives were standing in the threshold. “They’re like, ‘Are you Karl? May we speak with you?’"

By Василий Красюк (http://www.herbalife.ru) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 8.29.16

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Opening Bell: 09.04.12

Moody's Gives EU Warning (WSJ) Moody's Investors Service has put the European Union's triple-A credit rating on a negative outlook in a move that reflects actions the ratings firm has taken on some of the euro-zone's largest members, including Germany and the Netherlands. "Moody's believes that it is reasonable to assume that the EU's credit-worthiness should move in line with the credit-worthiness of its strongest key member states considering the significant linkages between member states and the EU," Moody's said in a release. Fears Rising, Spaniards Pull Out Their Cash and Get Out of Spain (NYT) After working six years as a senior executive for a multinational payroll-processing company in Barcelona, Spain, Julio Vildosola is cutting his professional and financial ties with his troubled homeland. He has moved his family to a village near Cambridge, England, where he will take the reins at a small software company, and he has transferred his savings from Spanish banks to British banks. “The macro situation in Spain is getting worse and worse,” Mr. Vildosola, 38, said last week just hours before boarding a plane to London with his wife and two small children. “There is just too much risk. Spain is going to be next after Greece, and I just don’t want to end up holding devalued pesetas.” In July, Spaniards withdrew a record 75 billion euros, or $94 billion, from their banks — an amount equal to 7 percent of the country’s overall economic output — as doubts grew about the durability of Spain’s financial system. According to official statistics, 30,000 Spaniards registered to work in Britain in the last year, and analysts say that this figure would be many multiples higher if workers without documents were counted. That is a 25 percent increase from a year earlier. Europe Bank Chief Hints At Bond Purchases (WSJ) The comments by Mario Draghi in a closed hearing at the European Parliament on Monday came ahead of the ECB's monthly policy meeting Thursday. That meeting has been keenly awaited in the financial markets for further details of how the bank could help bring down the funding costs of countries such as Spain and Italy to prevent them from having to seek full euro-zone bailouts like Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Switzerland Flirts With Recession (WSJ) "Three months ago, the Swiss economy looked charmingly strong against the backdrop of the euro zone and now it is looking on the brink of recession," said Janwillem Acket, chief economist at Julius Bär in Zurich. Nigeria Uncovers Cocaine-Stuffed Roasted Chicken (AP) The roasted chickens had an unusual stuffing — $150,000 worth of cocaine, according to Nigerian police. 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He made that diagnosis last week in a rebuttal to those who blame an 8.3 percent unemployment rate on structural shifts in the economy wrought by the financial crisis and who contend joblessness is permanently elevated. “I see little evidence of substantial structural change in recent years,” Bernanke told fellow central bankers and economists at the annual monetary-policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “Following every previous U.S. recession since World War II, the unemployment rate has returned close to its pre-recession level.” Ice Picks Are Still Used As Weapons (NYT) Mann Rosa, 32, who lives on Perry Avenue about a block from the scene of the recent attack, said ice picks were back in vogue among street gangs all across the city. “The ice pick, from what I know, is the new thing,” Mr. Rosa said, noting how easy it was to buy and conceal. “It’s definitely the new wave.” Toward the end of the conversation, almost as if he had an afterthought, Mr. Rosa said he had been stabbed repeatedly with an ice pick about two years ago during a street fight. He rolled up the sleeve of his T-shirt to reveal two dime-size wounds, not unlike scars from a smallpox vaccination, on his shoulder and upper arm. “I was stabbed once in the chest, once in the back and twice in the arm,” Mr. Rosa said; it took 12 stitches to close the wounds. Asked if the police ever caught the perpetrator, Mr. Rosa laughed and shook his head. “We got this thing called street justice. We don’t go to the cops over something like that.”