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Opening Bell: 3.16.17

Carl Icahn looks out for number one; Tim Sloan is loving life; how not to greet a speeding train during a blizzard; and more.

Trump Adviser Carl Icahn Lobbies for Rule Change That Benefits Icahn (BBG)
Sipping a glass of pineapple juice in his 47th floor corner office, the 81 year-old says he’s surprised by all the controversy, which he sees as a fake issue generated by well-funded opponents. “I have a right to talk to the president like any other citizen,” he says. “Especially if I think he respects me, why the hell shouldn’t I call him?. It may sound corny to you, but I think doing certain things helps the country a lot. And yeah, it helps me. I’m not apologizing for that.”

StatlerAndIcahn

Goldman Sachs Goes on Buying Binge for Delinquent Mortgages (WSJ)
The Wall Street giant’s loan-buying spree is one strange reverberation of the housing crisis. In ramping up a mortgage-buying operation that had lain low since the meltdown, Goldman is trying to make money even as it looks to fulfill terms of a government settlement that calls for it to help struggling homeowners.

Wells Fargo CEO receives pay bump despite sales scandal (Reuters)
Wells Fargo & Co's board of directors awarded Chief Executive Timothy Sloan $12.8 million for his work last year, a 17 percent increase, despite scrapping executive bonuses in light of an accounts scandal that rocked the bank last year, according to a proxy filing on Wednesday.

Fury Road: Did Uber Steal the Driverless Future From Google? (BBG)
Some former colleagues seem to think that even if Levandowski did what Google alleges, he doesn’t deserve to be punished. “Whatever Google may say about him stealing lidar trade secrets, he was the lidar team at Google,” says someone who worked at the company’s driverless car program. “This is like the Swiss patent office suing Einstein for inventing the theory of relativity while he worked there.”

The Biggest Myths in Investing, Part 8 – More Information Will Give me an Immediate Advantage

">The Biggest Myths in Investing, Part 8 – More Information Will Give me an Immediate Advantage (PragCap)
Since short-term prices are rather inefficient for long-term instruments then that creates more opportunity for alpha. While this is true it also exposes you to the paradox of activity – being more active in an attempt to capture alpha due to inefficient prices exposes you to higher taxes and fees which reduces your ability to capture alpha. In other words, there are more short-term opportunities in long-term instruments, but there are also more costs in long-term instruments that are used as short-term instruments.

Where are the Bulls in This Bull Market? (WSJ)
Corporations have spent hundreds of billions annually in recent years buying back their own stock. But what if, after netting out all the supply and demand flows in the equities market, the corporations are the only ones on balance buying their stock? That’s the conclusion, at least for 2016, of Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research. “The bottom line is that the current bull market has been driven largely by corporations buying back their shares,” he wrote on Tuesday.

Hedge Funds' Lost Alpha Sends $750 Million Fund as Far as Seoul (BBG)
“Quite simply, it’s an overlooked country,” Tsai, 45, said in a phone interview. “If I could go back in time to the U.S. equity markets in the late ’80s and understand all the ways that hedge funds made money and kind of do it again, I feel that Korea is that same opportunity.”

Treasury Will Invoke ‘Extraordinary Measures’ as Debt Ceiling Looms Again (WSJ)
“The guys who have lamented and cursed the most against deficits and increasing the debt limit are in charge, and they’re going to have to vote for the thing they’ve said back home they would never vote for,” said Steve Bell, a former GOP budget aide who is now a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

Watch a Speeding Train Blast a Bunch of Commuters With Snow (Gizmodo)
Here’s a free piece of advice should you ever find yourself waiting for the first train to roll into a station after a heavy snowfall: Stand as far away from the tracks as possible, assuming you don’t want to get blasted with a massive shitstorm of snow.

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StatlerAndIcahn

Opening Bell: 11.8.17

Carl Icahn likes cars; Steve-Cohen-backed Quantopian is struggling; miniature IPOs are generally a bad idea; why you shouldn't play with guns during your bachelor party; and more.

Getty Images

Opening Bell: 9.2.16

Carl Icahn's son wants a promotion; Banks vs stress tests; Pamela Anderson, rabbi pen op-ed saying porn is "for losers"; and more.

Opening Bell: 2.27.15

Buffett Euro Trip; Icahn loss; JP Morgan is finishing school for CEOs in training; Guy who made love to mailboxes found dead; AND MORE.

(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 3.14.17

Robert Shiller is doing that thing he always does; Carl Icahn strikes fear into the heart of AIG; Texas bill would ban male masturbation; and more.

Opening Bell: 1.15.16

Citi beats expectations; Wells Fargo misses; Man With Hoover tattoo on his crotch says it’s ruining his love life; and more.

stevecohen6

Opening Bell: 5.30.17

Steve Cohen found a nice big round number to aim for; Barney Frank says “all numbers are arbitrary”; there's now a Pissing Pug next to the Fearless Girl; and more.

By mattbuck [CC BY-SA 2.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 3.17.17

Citigroup is literally trying to save its soul; Icahn is still doing Icahn; petting zoo raccoon "traumatized" by human breasts; and more.

Opening Bell: 03.07.13

Fed's Fisher Pins Slow Growth on Politicians (WSJ) Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher on Wednesday blamed both major U.S. political parties for a "horrid" political climate in Washington, and said monetary policy alone can't drive the economy. "We provided the fuel for economic recovery," Mr. Fisher said of the central bank, describing the Fed's stimulus as "very high-octane, dirt-cheap gasoline." But he said that neither Republican nor Democratic politicians in Washington have done their part by putting policies in place that spur the private sector "to take the cheap fuel that we have provided and step on the accelerator." Banks Said to Weigh Defying Fed With Dividend Disclosures (Bloomberg) The largest U.S. banks are weighing whether to disregard a Federal Reserve request and announce their dividend plans shortly after the central bank’s stress tests are released, people with knowledge of the process said. The Fed has asked 18 firms, including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, to wait until next week, even though the lenders will get preliminary word today about whether their capital plans were approved. Bank executives are concerned that investors could be confused and are considering whether securities laws may require prompt disclosure of their plans for dividends and share repurchases, the people said. Paulson Gold Fund Down 18% as Metal’s Slump Foils Rebound (Bloomberg) John Paulson posted an 18 percent decline in his Gold Fund last month as a slump in the metal, after more than a decade of gains, undermined efforts by the billionaire hedge-fund manager to rebound from two years of losses in some strategies. The $900 million Gold Fund, which invests in bullion- related equities and derivatives, is down 26 percent this year, Paulson & Co. said yesterday in a client update obtained by Bloomberg News. The firm’s Advantage funds also fell in February after the metal and related stocks weakened as signs of economic optimism curbed gold demand. “Despite the volatility and drawdown of our gold equity positions, we believe in the long-term outlook for these positions as quantitative easing programs continue around the world, credit expands in the United States, and gold equities continue to trade at a significant discount” to historical average valuations, the hedge fund said in a letter sent yesterday to investors, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Carl Icahn Rachets Up Dell Fight (WSJ) In a letter released by Dell Thursday, Mr. Icahn said he has a "substantial" position in the company, and asked Dell to pay a per-share dividend of $9 if the deal is voted down by shareholders. He said that by his calculations, that transaction would be superior to the current going-private offer, citing a "stub" value of $13.81 a share which, combined with the special dividend, represents a 67% premium to the current $13.65 per-share offer price. Dell 'Welcomes' Carl Icahn to Go-Shop Process (CNBC) Dell on Thursday said it welcomed Carl Icahn, who has built up a 100 million share stake in the company, and other interested parties as the computer maker seeks to go private. The special committee appointed by the board said it was conducting a "robust go-shop process" and was looking at other alternatives after a $24.4 billion buyout led by founder Michael Dell faced opposition from some shareholders. Bad-News Bears Crash The Party (WSJ) For all their conviction, the bears realize it may be awhile before their dark predictions come true. "Unfortunately, I am bearish and I have been wrong," said Samer Nsouli, chief investment officer at Lyford Group International, a hedge fund, who argues that recent weakness in copper and oil is a portent of a global slowdown. "Make no mistake, it will end in tears. The eternal question is when." Lions Maul Two To Death In Kariba (Herald) Two people were yesterday mauled to death by lions in Mahombekombe suburb in the resort town of Kariba. Sources say the man only identified as Musinje and the woman Sharai Mawera, were attacked while spending time in a bushy area with the man managing to escape, leaving the woman behind. The man went on to report the case to police who, with the assistance of officers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, went in search of the lions. During the search they found an arm belonging to a man with investigations pointing to the lions having made a kill the previous night. That, the sources say, could have been the reason the lions did not completely eat the woman. BofA Times An Options Trade Well (WSJ) Bank of America's trading desk last June purchased options to buy 150,000 shares of Constellation Brands, an aggressive wager that the wine-and-beer seller's shares would rise, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of options-market data and of quarterly regulatory filings made by institutional investors. The trade helped push the volume in thinly traded Constellation options that day to more than 13 times the previous 30 days' daily average, the options data show. A week later, Constellation announced a pact to buy a Mexican beer maker out of a joint venture that imports Corona Extra and other beers into the U.S. market. Bank of America led a duo of banks that financed the $1.85 billion deal. Constellation shares soared 24% on June 29, the day the deal was made public, and Bank of America generated an estimated paper profit of more than $1 million from the options trading, the options-market data indicate. China Imitates Singer (NYP) Paul Singer’s battle with Argentina over defaulted debt is beginning to ripple through the bond world. Creditors looking to force deadbeat countries to pay up are turning to the controversial legal argument Singer used to press his case against the South American country in the US courts. On Monday, China’s Ex-Im Bank, which has an unpaid judgment worth $32 million against Grenada, sued the tiny Caribbean country in New York federal court to get its money back. China wheeled out the same “equal treatment” argument that Singer’s Elliott Management used against Argentina, and which was recently upheld at the appeals level for the first time in the US. China’s move marks the first time a creditor other than Singer and his cohorts have tested the maneuver in the US. Obama Tries Charm Offensive to Woo Republicans on Deficit (Bloomberg) The president broke bread last night with a dozen Republican senators, hosting a dinner at a luxury Washington hotel near the White House. Next week, he’ll visit Capitol Hill to meet separately with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. Obama has also spoken by telephone with at least a half- dozen Republican lawmakers over the past few days about the budget and other priorities of his second term, including a rewrite of immigration laws and controlling gun violence. “There have been some problems, but we’re all adults and you just have to put the country ahead of party and you’ll be fine,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped organize the dinner, said before the meal. The increased outreach marks a shift in strategy for the White House, amid signs the president’s poll numbers are falling after he and Republicans were unable to avert the across-the- board spending cuts that took effect March 1. Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Fall to a Six-Week Low (Bloomberg) First-time jobless claims unexpectedly fell by 7,000 to 340,000 in the week ended March 2, the lowest since the period ended Jan. 19, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 355,000. The four-week average dropped to a five-year low. JC Penney Board Can’t Be 'Delusional': Ex-CEO (CNBC) Former JC Penney CEO Allen Questrom told CNBC on Wednesday that the company's board of directors is wrong in thinking the struggling retailer can change its fortunes under current boss Ron Johnson. "The board has to take action. They can't be delusional like Ron Johnson is," Questrom said on "Fast Money Halftime Report." "This has been going on long enough. You can't say you're going to make your numbers for the year and then drop a billion dollars." Questrom, who has watched from afar as Penney's sales and stock have suffered, told CNBC that directors needed to act quickly. "If they think if it all of a sudden going to turn itself around, there is no way they can have reliable information – because Ron is not a source for that," he said. "The sooner they act, the better." 1 in 10 Yale students have engaged in prostitution, 3% have had sex with an animal (NYDN) Sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt hosted the sex workshop session where around 55 students used their cellphones to answer questions about sex. The results were then published in real time on a screen. McDevitt, who also owns the Feminique sex store in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said the results showed "you can't have assumptions about people's backgrounds." Student Giuliana Berry, who hosted the event, told Campus Reform the workshop - part of Yale's Sex Weekend - aimed to increase understanding and compassion for people who indulged in "fringe sexual practices."