Opening Bell: 2.18.16

Bank stock-rout hits bonuses; Derek Jeter invests in whistleblower app; Ray Dalio says expect lower returns, higher risk; Hookers 4 Hillary Offers 'Extras' To Nevada Clinton Supporters; and more.
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Bank-Stock Rout Ripples to Bonuses (WSJ)
For bankers, getting a bonus in stock has become an albatross. Employees at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have been hit with more than $400 million in paper losses thanks to a plunge in the value of stock bonuses paid out early last year, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Similar declines have been felt by advisers, traders and other staff across Wall Street.

Derek Jeter Wants to Help Bank Employees Cry Foul (WSJ)
STOPit, a New York-based start-up that counts former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter as an investor, is set to announce on Thursday that it is debuting a new product for financial institutions and other corporations that want to give their employees an anonymous way to expose fraud or other kinds of unethical or inappropriate behavior.

Activist Taking Steps Toward a Proxy Fight With Yahoo (Bloomberg)
Okapi Partners LLC, a proxy-solicitation adviser typically used by Starboard, has been calling Yahoo shareholders, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public. Firms such as Okapi often make these calls ahead of a potential proxy battle, and Starboard could push for new board members as soon as this month. The investor owned less than 1 percent of Yahoo’s stock at the end of last year.

Hedge Funds Will Pay for You to Own Small-Cap ETFs (Bloomberg)
So the small investor actually makes money off the hedge funds. That's fun. But small-cap ETFs are down more than 17 percent in the past year, so why care about being paid a few extra basis points to own such lousy performers? The reason may be that many of the ETFs are actually beating their index over the long term. The largest of the bunch, IWM, has been posting benchmark-beating performance for a while now, as seen in the five-year return chart below. Not only did investors get free exposure to the Russell 2000 Index’s 27.9 percent return; they got paid an extra 0.25 percent on top.

Hungary Central Bank Stockpiles Guns, Bullets Citing Terror Risk (Bloomberg)
The National Bank of Hungary bought 200,000 rounds of live ammunition and 112 handguns for its security company, according to documents posted on a website for public procurements. Additional protection is needed due to the rise of "international security risks" including bomb and terror threats and migration, central bank Governor Gyorgy Matolcsy said in a written response to a lawmaker who asked about the purchases, posted on Parliament’s website Feb. 17.

Hookers 4 Hillary Offers 'Extras' To Nevada Clinton Supporters (HP)
The group includes 490 workers at various legal brothels, including the Moonlight Bunny Ranch and Kit Kat Guest Ranch near Carson City, the Love Ranch Las Vegas and the Alien Cathouse, a space-themed brothel near Area 51. They're backing Clinton because they believe she is the presidential candidate most likely to protect Obamacare from being repealed, according to member Ivy Mae...Many of the Hookers 4 Hillary members are going the extra mile to stimulate interest in Clinton with brothel customers, such as offering a 25 percent discount to Nevada locals willing to caucus for the former secretary of state. "If you tell me you're caucusing or voting for Hillary, I will give you a free lunch or 30 extra minutes to use however you like," Kisses said.

Ray Dalio: Expect lower returns, higher risk (CNBC)
The Bridgewater Associates founder contended that central banks would "increasingly ease" through negative interest rates and bond-buying. But those methods would have limited effectiveness amid already easy policy, he argued. "As a result, central banks will increasingly be 'pushing on a string,'" Dalio wrote, adding that "QE will be less and less effective because there is less 'gas in the tank.'"

Bank of Japan Baffled by Negative Reaction to Negative-Rate Policy (WSJ)
Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, who announced the nation’s first move into minus rates three weeks ago, found himself dodging a concerted attack in Parliament from lawmakers who charged the policy was victimizing consumers and sending a message of despair. Even a ruling-party member, Masahiro Ishida, called the policy hard to grasp. “It could have the opposite effect of confusing the market,” he said.

Kanye’s botched album release costs him $10M (NYP)
Kanye West’s troubled release of his latest album, “The Life of Pablo,” has already cost the hip-hop star at least $10 million in sales, a review of estimated pirated downloads on Tuesday revealed. TorrentFreak, which tracks music piracy and file-sharing, reported that West’s album was illegally downloaded more than 500,000 times in the first 24 hours of its Feb. 14 release. That made it the most ripped-off album by far on The Pirate Bay and other file-sharing sites.

Cops: Waffle House Waitress, 43, Spiked Fellow Worker's Drink With Meth (TSG)
A police review of Waffle House surveillance video showed Evans taking Mikeals’s drink into a store bathroom. She then returned the beverage without Mikeals realizing it had been missing. Investigators allege that Evans spiked the drink with methamphetamine while inside the bathroom. Cops report that they have not discovered a motive for the poisoning.

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