Opening Bell: 6.29.16

Moody's downgrades 12 UK banks; Soros bets against Deutsche Bank; Saudi Arabia beating off bankers with a stick; Cops say woman wielded hatchet after her demands for sex were rebuffed; and more.
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Every Banker in the World Is Chasing the Saudi Aramco Deal (Bloomberg, earlier)
Investment banks around the world are clamoring to join what promises to be a bonanza, and not just the IPO of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, which could be valued at upward of $2 trillion. The kingdom is planning to sell hundreds of state assets to bolster its finances and reduce its dependence on oil. That includes as much as $15 billion of bonds. Saudi Arabia looks even more promising with investment banking in a global slump and Britain’s vote to exit the European Union set to deter deal-making for months to come. “Saudi Arabia is close to the top, if not at the top, of the agenda for banks,” said Christopher Wheeler, a London-based analyst with Atlantic Equities LLP in London. “Where else is there at the moment?"

Moody's changes outlook on 12 UK banks following Brexit (CNBC)
Eight of the 12 banks, including Barclays, HSBC, Santander UK and TSB Bank, were downgraded to negative from stable. Lloyds Bank and Principality Building Society were downgraded to stable from positive. The agency also changed the outlook on the U.K. government-guaranteed senior unsecured debt instruments, as well as Bradford & Bingley and NRAM, to negative from stable.

Trump Channels Brexit in Anti-Trade Speech in Pennsylvania (Bloomberg)
"Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders," Trump said. "Now it's time for the American people to take back their future. We are going to take it back." The presumptive Republican presidential nominee sounded more like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran against Hillary Clinton and global trade deals in the Democratic primary, when assessing whether free trade should continue to be a priority. Calling NAFTA "the worst trade deal in the history of the country" and the Trans Pacific Partnership "the greatest danger yet," Trump said he planned to re-negotiate trade deals in order to create jobs across the country and especially in places that formerly produced goods sold in the U.S. and abroad. "It's time to declare our economic independence once again," Trump said. "That means voting for Donald Trump."

Stress Test Inc.: Billions of Dollars, Bank Consultants to Manage Other Consultants (WSJ)
Globally, banks spent about $29 billion on consultants last year, much of that for stress tests in the U.S. and elsewhere, according to analysis firm ALM Intelligence. That compares with $16.35 billion in 2007. The total has increased every year since 2009, a period when banks have been relentlessly cutting expenses and employees in areas such as trading and branches.

Cops: Woman, 26, Wielded Hatchet After Her Demands For Sex Were Repeatedly Rebuffed (TSG)
According to police, Leslie Mills, 26, returned home early Thursday after a drinking binge and began badgering the victim to “engage in sexual activity with her.” The man--who said he was awoken by the persistent Mills--told cops that he moved from the Ocala home’s bedroom to the couch in a bid to escape her. However, Mills followed him to the living room, where she climbed atop the victim, “still asking for him to have sex with her,” according to an Ocala Police Department report. After again declining to have sex, the man went into the bathroom and locked the door. Mills responded, police report, by pounding on the door, which she then successfully pushed open. Upon Mills entering the bathroom, the victim noticed that she was carrying a hatchet that had been removed from a living room wall. The man said that he wrestled the hatchet from Mills’s hands after she raised the weapon and "appeared to be preparing to strike him."

Airbnb Is Said to Be Seeking Funding Valuing It at $30 Billion (Dealbook)
Airbnb, which lets users list their homes and apartments for short-term rentals, is in talks for a new round of investment that would value the company at about $30 billion, according to people briefed on the matter. Under the terms of the new fund-raising, Airbnb will have tripled its valuation in two years.

Soros bet on fall in Deutsche Bank shares (FT)
The veteran investor, who famously made $1bn betting against the pound in 1992, took a short position of 0.51 per cent in Deutsche’s stock on Friday — the day after the vote — via his investment vehicle, Soros Fund Management, according to a regulatory filing. The bet equates to about 7m shares. In a second filing on Tuesday, Soros Fund Management said that its short position was now 0.46 per cent - suggesting that it had begun to take profits from the trade.

Lehman Brothers Said to Sell One of Its Last Property Holdings (Bloomberg)
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sold the NYLO New York City hotel, bringing the unwinding of the bank’s real estate investments close to completion almost eight years after its bankruptcy. The buyer of the hotel, at Broadway and 77th Street, was Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., according to a person with knowledge of the sale, who asked not to be named because the transaction hasn’t been made public. Ashkenazy, which also operates Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the retail at Washington’s Union Station, paid about $140 million for the 291-room property, according to the person.

Cowboy On Horseback Causes Traffic Jam On New York City Bridge (HP)
An 80-year-old urban cowboy was spotted on Monday as he made the grueling journey from New Jersey into New York City. Like so many weary travelers before him, Tod “Doc” Mishler and his trusty steed brushed up with authorities along their path. Police said that Mishler, wearing a white cowboy hat and a vest, caused a traffic jam on the bridge, according to the New York Daily News. Mishler was riding one horse and leading another one along. Rather than settle their conflicts by old-fashioned duel, police issued a pair of summonses to Mishler, one for trespassing and another for impeding traffic, CBS New York reports.

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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?’"

Opening Bell: 4.21.16

Soros says China's economy looks like U.S. before '08 crisis; Canada does global economy a solid; Investors pull $15 billion from hedge funds; Cops Seek Dominatrix In Bar Beating; and more.

FidelitySign

Opening Bell: 10.23.17

Fidelity managers aren't very nice; Saudi Arabia regrets Uber investment; Jordan Belfort thinks ICOs are a scam; the universe shouldn't exist; and more.

(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 5.24.17

Moody's downgrades China; Ford's ex-CEO got booted over Trump tantrum; Uber, bitcoin called ponzi schemes; there is a blind baseball announcer; and more.

Opening Bell: 01.14.13

Goldman May Delay UK Bonuses Until Top Tax Rate Falls (Reuters) Goldman Sachs is considering delaying bonus payments in the U.K. until after April 6, when the top rate of income tax in the country will drop to 45 percent, from 50 percent, a person familiar with the bank's operations said on Sunday. The strategy relates to bonuses that were deferred from 2009, 2010 and 2011, the person said. The Financial Times reported the news earlier today. JPMorgan Said to Weigh Disclosing Whale Report Faulting Dimon (Bloomberg) JPMorgan's board will consider releasing an internal report this week that faults Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon’s oversight of a division that lost more than $6.2 billion on botched trades, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The final report, which builds on a preliminary analysis released in July, is critical of senior managers including Dimon, 56, former Chief Financial Officer Doug Braunstein, 51, and ex-Chief Investment Officer Ina Drew, 56, for inadequately supervising traders in a U.K. unit that amassed an illiquid position in credit derivatives last year, the people said. The report, which isn’t complete, will be presented to the board when it meets tomorrow. The directors will then vote on whether to disclose it when the bank announces fourth-quarter results the following day, said the people, who asked not to be named because the report isn’t yet public. Morgan Stanley to trim Dubai staff amid global cuts (Reuters) "The Dubai cuts are part of the bank's global plan. Obviously, the bank is trying to focus on growth opportunities in the region and there has been little growth on the equities side barring Saudi," one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter has not been made public. Morgan Stanley's equities business will now focus on Saudi Arabia, the source said, adding that planned cuts at other divisions in the Middle East were minimal. Hedge-Fund Leverage Rises to Most Since 2004 in New Year (Bloomberg) The rising use of borrowed money shows that everyone from the biggest firms to individuals is willing to take more risks after missing the rewards of the bull market that began in 2009. While leverage means bigger losses should stocks decline, investors are betting that record earnings and valuations 9.8 percent below the six-decade average will help push the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward the record it set in October 2007. “The first step of increasing risk is just going long, the second part of that is levering up in order to go longer,” James Dunigan, who helps oversee $112 billion as chief investment officer in Philadelphia for PNC Wealth Management, said in a Jan. 8 telephone interview. “Leverage increasing in the hedge-fund area suggests they’re now getting on board.” Goldman: Insurer Knew Paulson Was 'Shorting' (WSJ) Goldman Sachs on Friday fired back at a bond insurer suing it over a soured mortgage-linked deal, arguing in a court filing that ACA Financial Guaranty Corp. "cherry-picked" evidence to bolster its case. ACA in 2011 filed suit against Goldman in New York State Court, alleging Goldman misled it about a 2007 mortgage deal. ACA alleges that Goldman told it that one of Goldman's hedge-fund clients, Paulson & Co., was betting on the deal, when in fact Paulson was betting against it, according to an amended complaint the insurer is seeking to file. Had ACA known Paulson's true position, it never would have insured the deal, according to the amended complaint. Goldman countered in the Friday filing that ACA insured the deal knowing Paulson was betting against residential mortgage-backed securities at the time. ACA analyzed and chose the investments in the deal and should have been alerted by various "red flags" that Paulson wasn't betting on the investment, according to the filing. Primate found to be addicted to porn (NYDN) Gina, a resident of the Seville Zoo in Spain, chose to solely watch adult entertainment channels when a television and remote control was placed in her enclosure. Primatologist Pablo Herreros, writing in Spanish newspaper El Mundo, claimed he made the discovery some years ago on a tour of the nation's chimpanzee enclosures. During his research trip he conducted surveys on the behavior of the animals. Herreros wrote, “What I could never imagine were the surprises prepared for me by a female of this species called Gina who inhabited Seville Zoo.” To enliven Gina's nights, officials apparently decided to install a television, protected behind glass, and gave her a remote control so she could change the channels herself. And enliven herself she did. “The surprise was when they found that within a few days, Gina was not only using the remote control perfectly well, but that she also used to choose the porn channel for entertainment, as many of us would have done, ” Herreros wrote. “Although a small study estimated that porn films are only watched for about 12 minutes on average, the truth is that human and non-human primates possess an intense sexual life.” AIG Sues New York Fed... To Secure Right To Sue Bank Of America (Reuters) American International Group Inc has filed a lawsuit against a vehicle created by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to help bail out the insurer, in a bid to preserve its right to sue Bank of America Corp and other issuers of mortgage debt that went sour. The complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan seeks a declaration that AIG has not transferred billions of dollars of "litigation claims" to Maiden Lane II, including many related to the insurer's $10 billion lawsuit against Bank of America. UK court approves ex-Credit Suisse trader's extradition to U.S. (Reuters) A British court on Monday approved the extradition of a former Credit Suisse trader to the United States, where he is wanted over a $540-million fraud dating back to the subprime mortgage crisis. The case of Kareem Serageldin will now be sent to Home Secretary Theresa May, the interior minister, who under British law has the final say over extraditions to the United States. She is expected to give the green light for the transfer to take place. Serageldin, 39, the Swiss bank's former global head of structured credit, is accused of artificially inflating the prices of mortgage-backed bonds between August 2007 and February 2008, when their real value was plummeting. Equities Bear Brunt of Wall Street Job Cuts on Volume (Bloomberg) Employees on stocks desks fell by 8.5 percent globally in the first nine months of last year, according to a survey by Coalition Ltd., an industry analytics firm. That compares with a 6.6 percent drop in fixed-income workers and a 5.8 percent decrease for origination and advisory functions, the data show. Banks Find Promise Unfulfilled in China Forays (WSJ) Global firms sold about US$44 billion worth of shares in Asian financial institutions in 2012 to institutional investors or other strategic buyers, up from US$32.7 billion in 2011, according to data provider Dealogic. The retreat is gathering pace as a host of new regulations, including the so-called Basel III capital rules, make holding minority stakes in financial institutions more expensive. Thousands Participate In Annual No Pants Subway Ride (CBS) Organizers arranged that starting at 3 p.m., people got on trains at six different stops across the city, took off their pants and put them into their backpack. Participants then acted as if everything was completely normal as they rode on to Union Square. Participants are asked to don typical winter wear such as coats, hats and gloves and act as if they don’t know other pantsless riders, according to organizers. The group said it was just all in good fun. “People are willing to give basically their Sunday afternoon to take off their pants; to do something silly and fun, and you know, a good time,” one participant said. “It makes you feel invincible; superior, because nobody else has any idea what’s going on,” another said. There were no-pants subway rides in dozens of cities in 17 countries Sunday. In New York City, participants were happy it was rather warm. In prior years, the cold has bummed them out.

Opening Bell: 6.6.16

Saudi central bank bans use of options against riyal; June rate hike "almost surely off the table"; Murder victim’s parents say parrot witnessed crime; and more.