Opening Bell: 8.24.15

Investors lose their minds; Ashley Madison extortion; "Porn Star Kayla Kupcakes Flashes Judge In Florida Courtroom" and more.
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From Panic to Judgment Day, Investors Struggle to Describe Rout (Bloomberg)
As global markets tumbled, investors, strategists and asset managers across the world struggled for words to describe the selloff that wiped $490 billion from emerging-market equities, dragged Saudi stocks into a bear market and pushed Russia’s ruble toward its lowest closing level on record. David Welch, the head of equity sales trading at Reorient Group in Hong Kong: “I’m trying to process the whole thing. It’s just ugly.”

AshleyMadison Data Used in Extortion Attempts, Police Say (Bloomberg)
Blackmail attempts have been made against people whose personal information may have been included among data released by the hackers last week, Toronto Police Acting Staff Superintendent Bryce Evans said at a news conference Monday. There also have been two unconfirmed reports of suicides related to the data release, he said.

China fears wipe quarter of a trillion euros off Europe's blue-chips (Reuters)
The index sank to its lowest level since January, having lost over a trillion euros in market value since the start of the month as China's devaluation of the yuan stoked fears of global economic deflation.

Wall Street ready to fight against high-speed trading ‘spoofers’ (NYP)
Regulatory brass at American exchanges are ready to unleash a new high-tech campaign to isolate and wipe out international high-speed trading “spoofers” who manipulate the US markets from the relative safety of their non-US perches, The Post has learned.

Brent Oil Falls Below $45 for First Time Since 2009 on Supplies (Bloomberg)
Crude in London slid below $45 a barrel for the first time since March 2009 on concerns Chinese demand is slowing just as Iran and the U.S. threaten to expand a global glut.

Brad Katsuyama’s Next Chapter (Bloomberg)
Not even famous-for-Wall-Street famous. He was Canadian, for heaven’s sake. He’d worked at Royal Bank of Canada, not Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan. He was running a startup—and not one that made anything you could download from the App Store. So even after Michael Lewis interviewed him for Flash Boys, even after Lewis flew to Toronto to talk to his parents and high school friends, even after he discovered Lewis had actually made him—Brad Katsuyama—the book’s hero, even after the 60 Minutes camera crew showed up … even then, Katsuyama says, he didn’t quite grasp what was about to happen. “I thought I could kind of blend in,” he says between spoonfuls of granola and yogurt at a lower Manhattan restaurant. “You know, Asian guy, normal haircut.”

Porn Star Kayla Kupcakes Flashes Judge In Florida Courtroom (HP)
A Florida judge got to see more evidence than he expected Thursday when an accused woman flashed her breasts in court. Susan Surrette, 54, was arrested Wednesday for disorderly intoxication in Fort Lauderdale. She appeared in a Broward County bond court Thursday via a video feed, NBC Miami reports. At one point during the hearing, Judge John Hurley asked Surrette what she did for a living. She replied that she worked as an escort and porn star under the name "Kayla Kupcakes." During the hearing, Surrette alleged she was the victim of police brutality and lifted up her shirt to offer proof, according to WPTV.

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RBS Fined $612M by Regulators for Manipulating Libor Rate (Bloomberg) The lender will pay $325 million to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, $150 million to the Department of Justice and 87.5 million pounds ($137 million) to the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, the CFTC said in a statement today. RBS said it will recoup about 300 million pounds to pay the fines by cutting bonuses and clawing back previous awards. The bank’s Japanese unit agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud as part of a deal with the Justice Department, the CFTC said. “The public is deprived of an honest benchmark interest rate when a group of traders sits around a desk for years falsely spinning their bank’s Libor submissions, trying to manufacture winning trades,” said David Meister, the CFTC’s director of enforcement. “That’s what happened at RBS.” Nasdaq Faces Facebook Fine (WSJ) Nasdaq is in preliminary talks with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a potential settlement related to its botched handling of Facebook's much-anticipated offering, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. While a settlement agreement isn't assured, the two sides are discussing a monetary penalty of about $5 million, people involved with the discussions said. In addition, Nasdaq has offered to compensate customers $62 million for losses stemming from Facebook IPO trades. U.S., S&P Settle In for Bitter Combat (WSJ) The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Los Angeles, represents the Justice Department's most aggressive move yet to try to hold accountable companies that were at the center of the financial meltdown. While banks and others have settled with the government and a settlement is possible in the S&P case, both sides indicated Tuesday that they were preparing for a long and costly legal fight. William Black, a former regulator at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, said U.S. officials seem "willing to push this case harder than with any financial-crisis case against a major bank." The government's case relies heavily on emails and other communications that allegedly show S&P officials knew the housing market was collapsing but dragged their feet on downgrading hundreds of securities because executives worried the firm would lose business and anger clients. In March 2007, an analyst sent colleagues song lyrics about the deteriorating market, set to the tune of the Talking Heads 1980s song "Burning Down the House," according to the government's complaint. Minutes later, the analyst sent a follow-up email: "For obvious, professional reasons please do not forward this song. If you are interested, I can sing it in your cube ;-)." Default in 10 Months After AAA Spurred Justice on Credit Ratings (Bloomberg) In May 2007, Standard & Poor’s confirmed its initial AAA ratings on $772 million of a collateralized debt obligation known as Octonion I. Within 10 months, the Citigroup Inc. deal defaulted, costing investors and the bank almost all their money. The CDO, which repackaged mortgage-backed securities and other similar bundles of debt, was among dozens of transactions valued at tens of billions of dollars in 2007 that the ratings firm never should have blessed, the Justice Department said Feb. 4 in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles. Octonion I underscores how inflated grades during the credit boom contributed to more than $2.1 trillion in losses at the world’s financial institutions after home-loan defaults soared and residential prices plummeted. “During this period, nearly every single mortgage-backed CDO that was rated by S&P not only underperformed but failed,” Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday at a news conference. “Put simply, this alleged conduct is egregious, and it goes to the very heart of the recent financial crisis.” Monopoly Fans Vote To Add Cat, Toss Iron (NYP) Scottie dog has a new nemesis in Monopoly after fans voted in an online contest to add a cat token to the property trading game, replacing the iron, toy maker Hasbro Inc. announced Wednesday. The results were announced after the shoe, wheelbarrow and iron were neck and neck for elimination in the final hours of voting that sparked passionate efforts by fans to save their favorite tokens, and by businesses eager to capitalize on publicity surrounding pieces that represent their products. The vote on Facebook closed just before midnight on Tuesday, marking the first time that fans have had a say on which of the eight tokens to add and which one to toss. The pieces identify the players and have changed quite a lot since Parker Brothers bought the game from its original designer in 1935. Fed Says Internal Site Breached by Hackers, No Critical Functions Affected (Reuters) The admission, which raises questions about cyber security at the Fed, follows a claim that hackers linked to the activist group Anonymous had struck the Fed on Sunday, accessing personal information of more than 4,000 U.S. bank executives, which it published on the Web. "The Federal Reserve system is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a Fed spokeswoman said. "Exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system," the spokeswoman said, adding that all individuals effected by the breach had been contacted. HSBC's Global Spread Left It Open To Crime, Says CEO (Reuters) "Our structure was not fit for purpose for a modern world," Stuart Gulliver told lawmakers on a British banking inquiry on Wednesday. "Our geographic footprint became very attractive to trans-national criminal organizations, whether they are terrorist in origin or criminal in origin." HSBC, whose former slogan "The world's local bank" reflects its presence in more than 80 countries, was in December given a $1.9 billion fine, the largest ever imposed on a bank, following a U.S. investigation into its Mexican and U.S. operations. Florida Keys 'Sea Hag' Gets 30 Years in Prison for Shooting Man Who Refused to Give Her Beer (NBC) The Florida Keys woman known as "the sea hag" who shot and killed her neighbor after he refused to give her a beer has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars. Dukeshire, who was facing a first-degree murder charge and made a deal with prosecutors, submitted a statement to the judge saying she was remorseful and would pay the rest of her life for losing her composure. Police say Dukeshire had approached Mazur outside his Conch Key home and asked him for a can of Busch Light. "Do you have a cold beer for me?" she asked, according to a Monroe County Sheriff's Office report.