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Opening Bell: 8.26.16

Carson Block vs St. Jude Medical; What does JP Morgan have to do to get you in a car today; Yellen, Yellen, Yellen; Couple takes wedding pictures on volcano aside hot lava; and more.
By Federalreserve (FED_9638) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Bond Traders Are Desperate for Direction From Yellen in Jackson Hole (Bloomberg)
Weeks of conflicting economic reports have whipsawed investors seeking to handicap the path of interest rates, and money managers overseeing about $6 trillion, including Pacific Investment Management Co. and Vanguard Group Inc., say policy makers aren’t making their task any easier. While the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting showed divisions within the rate-setting committee, New York Fed President William Dudley, San Francisco Fed President John Williams and Kansas City Fed President Esther George have signaled that a hike may be coming by year-end. Amid the mixed messages, investors are taking to the sidelines, leaving benchmark 10-year yields stuck in their narrowest range in a decade.

Fed still 'tremendously relevant,' just less effective, says Allianz's El-Erian (CNBC)
Central banks around the world are becoming less influential "in terms of delivering economic outcomes," according to Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz. "In the case of the Bank of Japan, they are becoming ineffective, if not counterproductive. But that doesn't mean that the Fed is not relevant. The Fed is tremendously relevant for markets, for the political system. They are just less effective," El-Erian said Thursday on CNBC's "Closing Bell."

Carson Block Takes on St. Jude Medical Claiming Hack Risk (Bloomberg)
Carson Block, the renowned short-seller and founder of research firm Muddy Waters LLC, has taken a short position in St. Jude Medical Inc., denouncing the security of its cardiac devices in an effort that could derail the company’s purchase by Abbott Laboratories. In a report to investors Thursday, Block warned that tens of thousands of Americans are living with ticking-time bombs: St. Jude pacemakers and defibrillators that are easily compromised, causing potentially fatal disruptions.

Cycling Matches the Pace and Pitches of Tech (Dealbook)
For many years cycling has been the sport of choice for workers in the region’s highly competitive tech community, the antidote to more leisurely pursuits like golf. But just like golf, it has become a way for investors and executives to socialize and strike deals. Max Levchin, 41, one of the founders of PayPal who has a well-known cycling obsession, recalls how some people have tried to pitch ideas to him during his typically breakneck daily training sessions, cruising at over 20 miles an hour. “I’ve been pitched companies on the bike, but I tend to ride fairly fast,” said Mr. Levchin, who is an early-stage investor and chief executive of the San Francisco-based financial services company Affirm.

Adventurous Couple Takes Wedding Pics On Volcano With Molten Lava (HP)
When lava from Kilauea began flowing into the ocean on the Big Island’s southeastern coastline last month, photographer Jenna Lee decided she needed to do a wedding shoot featuring the volcano. Lee told The Huffington Post that she prides herself on unique, daring photoshoots ― all she needed to make her vision a reality was a couple with a sense of adventure. Luckily, she found the perfect pair in newlyweds Lauren and Alex, who were willing to hike three miles to get to the lava, stand barefoot on sharp, uneven rock and pose alongside 2,000-degree molten lava for the shots. The group began their trek at 3:30 AM the morning of August 11, so it was still dark when they arrived at the flow. Lee told HuffPost that these early hours were perfect for photographing Lauren and Alex with the lava. “As [the lava] bubbled toward the coast, small little rivers of magma would break away and glow bright red before cooling and crusting over,” she said. “You could feel the heat radiating from within.”

Uber Loses at Least $1.2 Billion in First Half of 2016 (Bloomberg)
The ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. is not a public company, but every three months, dozens of shareholders get on a conference call to hear the latest details on its business performance from its head of finance, Gautam Gupta...In the first quarter of this year, Uber lost about $520 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to people familiar with the matter. In the second quarter the losses significantly exceeded $750 million, including a roughly $100 million shortfall in the U.S., those people said. That means Uber's losses in the first half of 2016 totaled at least $1.27 billion.

J.P. Morgan in a Car-Lending Chase (MoneyBeat)
The largest U.S. bank by assets is planning to launch a new digital offering that lets customers shop for a car and secure financing on their computer or smartphone, potentially trimming some of the time spent in negotiations at the car dealership. Known as Chase Auto Direct, the offering will be powered by TrueCar, a digital-car-buying service. This is the latest instance of a bank partnering with a financial-technology firm rather than facing off against them. The partnerships often speed up processes by integrating new, faster technology and broadening digital options for the consumer.

Ryan Lochte signs endorsement deal for cough drops (Reuters)
Pine Bros Softish Throat Drops, which makes cough drops, said it had signed Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, for a television commercial and print ads. Lochte lost all four of his major sponsors on Monday, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren, following his apology for an "exaggerated" story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio.

Cops: Man Broke Into Adult Novelty Shop, Made Off With Sex Toys, Top Half Of $2000 Mannequin (TSG)
A burglar who broke into an Ohio adult novelty store through a ventilation pipe gathered up an assortment of sex toys and lubricant before departing with the upper half of a $2000 sex doll that he topped with a $46.99 blond wig, according to police. Investigators allege that Ellis Doyle, 26, broke into Cirilla’s, a shop in Elyria, around 2:45 AM Saturday and stole several items before leaving. Surveillance video shows the intruder then sought to re-enter the business through the front doors, but they had locked behind him. Doyle, cops say, came back into the building “through the roof and ceiling over the cash register.” During his second pass through the store, Doyle “walks around the store again and then walks over to the ‘Eva’ mannequin and strips the clothing off of it and takes the top half of the mannequin and takes a blond and burgundy wig off a display and places it on its head and walks out the front door.”

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Opening Bell: 9.22.16

Yellen signals 2016 hike coming; Bill Gross is 'verklempt' after Fed decision; Australian hot dog and hamburger combination 'hamdog' coming to U.S.; and more.

By Federalreserve (FED_9638) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 6.16.16

Turnaround bankers are so hot right now; Janet Yellen say sit tight; Man converts tree stump into tribute to Boston sports teams; and more.

Opening Bell: 10.04.12

France’s LBO Firms See ‘Death’ From Hollande’s 75% Carry Tax (Bloomberg) Hollande, who released his first annual budget on Sept. 28, plans to tax fund managers’ share of the profit from their investments, known as carried interest, at a rate of as much as 75 percent, part of a wider effort to increase taxes on the wealthy and narrow the country’s deficit. France also plans to as much as double taxes on capital gains and restrict the amount of debt interest payments a company can deduct from its taxable income, a measure that will reduce returns on leveraged buyouts. Facebook Test Turns Users Into Advertisers (FT) Facebook is testing a new product in the US that allows ordinary users to pay to promote their own status updates, marking a shift in the social network’s willingness to charge its users for a core service. The product has potential to generate revenues, analysts said, but could also threaten the organic feel of the site as people pay to market their own social lives. Mark Zuckerberg Confirms: 'I wear the same thing everyday' (DL) "I mean, I wear the same thing every day, right? I mean, it's literally, if you could see my closet," Zuckerberg starts to explain, as Lauer asks if he owns 12 of the same gray t-shirt. "Maybe about 20," Zuckerberg admits, somewhere between discussing the future of Facebook, his daily routine, the iPhone 5, and his wedding to college sweetheart Priscilla Chan last May. The Facebook CEO says that he doesn't really have much in his closet — it's mainly used by his wife, who graduated from medical school at the University of California at San Francisco shortly before their marriage. Instead, Zuckerberg's identical t-shirt collection lives in the one drawer he's allotted. Tiger Global Up 22.4 Percent (Reuters) Tiger Global, one of the world's best-performing hedge funds, ended the third quarter with strong gains, leaving the fund up 22.4 percent for the year, two people familiar with the numbers said on Wednesday. The roughly $6 billion fund, run by Chase Coleman and Feroz Dewan, has been the darling of the investment community for its string of strong returns at a time when the average hedge fund is delivering only low single-digit returns. In 2011, when most funds nursed losses, Tiger Global captured headlines with a 45 percent gain for the year after having made a good chunk of money on the short side, people familiar with the portfolio said. 'Dark Pool' And SEC Settle (WSJ) The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in its order that Boston-based broker-dealer eBX LLC allowed the third-party operator of its trading platform, called LeveL ATS, to use details on client orders, including the stocks involved and whether they were buy or sell orders, to its own advantage. That operator is Lava Trading, an electronic-trading unit of Citigroup, according to eBX. eBX agreed to pay $800,000 to settle the SEC's allegations. It did so without admitting or denying wrongdoing. Mohamed El-Erian: No corner offices at PIMCO (Fortune) "It doesn't matter whether you're CEO or whether you're an associate, you have the same size office. No corner offices. Just a conference room. And then I knew that I had made the right decision when my very first outing with PIMCO, I had come from the IMF, 15 years working on emerging markets. I had a swagger, I thought I knew what I was talking about. I put forward my view, and this summer intern felt safe enough to get up and say, "You know what? Mohamed is wrong and this is why he's wrong." The fact that PIMCO had created this safe zone where a summer intern could get up and question someone who was supposed to be an expert confirmed to me that I was in the right place." Bank-Friendly U.S. Regulator Shifts Focus to Revamp Reputation (Bloomberg) In a stately hearing room stuffed with senators and bankers, Thomas Curry began his apologies. His agency should have stopped a major bank from helping drug cartels launder cash. The violations went on for years while his agency was overly passive. “I deeply regret we did not act sooner,” he said. Curry had been on the job for just over three months on that day in July, so the mistakes hadn’t been made on his watch. His apologies were less a confession than a signal the new Comptroller of the Currency -- long seen as the most bank- friendly of U.S. regulators -- was changing course. “I’m not interested in what people thought about in the past,” Curry said in an interview. “My focus is going forward.” Since he took over in March, at least two key staff members closely associated with the agency’s pro-industry stance have departed, notably chief counsel Julie Williams. Williams, a 19- year OCC veteran, was known for helping nationally chartered banks resist state regulation by arguing they were preempted by often less-stringent federal rules. Curry has also raised the profile of consumer protection and shifted focus toward “operational risk” -- the idea that bank practices and management can pose as much of a threat to safety and soundness as external forces. Argentine Navy Ship Seized In Asset Fight (FT) An Argentine naval vessel crewed by more than 200 sailors has been seized in Ghana as part of an attempt by the US hedge fund Elliott Capital Management to collect on bonds on which Buenos Aires defaulted in 2001. A Ghanaian court ordered an injunction and interim preservation order against the ARA Libertad, a 100-metre long tall ship, following an application by Elliott subsidiary NML Capital on Tuesday. The hedge fund, run by the US billionaire Paul Singer, has been closely monitoring the course of the Libertad, according to sources familiar with the firm. Elliott had been waiting for the ship to stop in a port where it would have a chance to enforce legal judgments previously awarded by UK and US courts. The hedge fund declined to comment. Argentina slammed the interception of the Libertad as a “trick which these unscrupulous financiers” had pulled, adding that it “violates the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity”. Morgan Stanley commodities talks with Qatar hit snag (Reuters) Morgan Stanley's talks with Qatar's sovereign wealth fund over the sale of its commodities business have run into difficulty, and the deal may need to be reworked if it is to go ahead, banking sources said. One of the top banks in commodity trading over the past 30 years, Morgan Stanley has been in discussion for more than a year with Qatar over the sale of at least a majority stake in the energy-focused trading business, the bankers said. "There have been some differences, and Qatar is a bit lukewarm about it," one said. "It's not dead yet but definitely not imminent." Maple syrup stolen in Quebec seized by police in New Brunswick (The Star) Quebec police have seized between 700 and 800 barrels of maple syrup from a New Brunswick exporter, linking the drums to August’s massive heist of the sweet stuff. Étienne St-Pierre, owner of S.K. Exports in Kedgwick, N.B., told the Star that police executed a search warrant Sept. 26 and hauled away the barrels. “They said they were searching to find some stolen drums from Quebec,” he said. “It was a surprise. That was the first news I received.” St-Pierre said each barrel weighs about 270 kilograms and holds 170 litres of syrup, meaning police seized at least 119,000 litres of gooey Quebec gold. A spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec, Sgt. Bruno Beaulieu, confirmed a search warrant had been executed in Kedgwick but said he could not comment on the investigation. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has never revealed the amount of syrup stolen from its secure St-Louis-de-Blandford, Que. warehouse in August. The facility held about 3.75 million litres of syrup, enough to fill one and a half Olympic swimming pools. St-Pierre said he obtained the barrels from a regular Quebec supplier, who he refused to identify.

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Opening Bell: 9.8.17

Potential Yellen replacements are emerging; Equifax execs dumped stock before hack was revealed; Roo, a cartoon kangaroo who teaches college freshmen about sexual assault, is also an acronym for "Rub One Out"; and more.

Opening Bell: 6.7.16

Yellen looks to September; Goldman is probed over Malaysia State Fund; Amputee penguin will get new 3-D printed foot; and more.

cohnilton

Opening Bell: 4.27.17

Gary Cohn: the next Janet Yellen?; Deutsche Bank traders treading water; man commits crime against crime-fighting robot; and more.

By Captain-tucker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 9.21.16

Senators vs Wells Fargo; Hedge funds vs SABMiller deal; DOJ vs former Fed staffer; Son of Chinese billionaire buys eight iPhone 7s for his dog; and more.

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Opening Bell: 10.4.17

Trump gets Fed chair shortlist and Gundlach thinks Kashkari should be on it; Uber and SoftBank this much closer to making it official; 'love' not actually ingredient, per FDA; and more.