Opening Bell: 3.9.17

Scaramucci might get an ambassadorship or whatever; Bill Gross wrote a thing; fried potatoes inspire sexism controversy; and more.
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Anthony Scaramucci Loses White House Communications Post (WSJ)
Mr. Scaramucci is being considered for a different role, according to a person familiar with the situation, though it is unclear what kind of position he would be offered and whether he would take it. In January, Mr. Scaramucci was offered an ambassadorship, though a person familiar with the matter said it was a vague offer and not for a specific country.

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To Reduce Trade Deficit, White House Wants Partners to Buy American (WSJ)
“Any country we have a significant trade deficit with needs to work with us on a product-by-product and sector-by-sector level to reduce that deficit over a specified period of time,” Peter Navarro, director of the White House’s National Trade Council, said. “That can be achieved, if they buy more of our products than they now are buying from the rest of the world, whether it’s chemicals or corn or whether, from a national security perspective, it’s submarines or aircraft.”

Short-sellers slow their bets against Snapchat owner (FT)
Ihor Dusaniwsky, head of research at S3 Partners, attributed the decline in cost, which lowers the hurdle for making a profit on a short sale, to more shares becoming available. “Snap was a real big retail name — even my son bought stock,” Mr Dusaniwsky said referring to his 27-year-old son who is a combat medic stationed in Europe. “These shares are sitting in retail accounts and the brokers woke up this morning and found all the stock they didn’t know they had.”

The Downfall of the Popular IPO (A Wealth Of Common Sense)
Lots of people have been saying we’re in a technology bubble for a number of years now. While this IPO performance certainly doesn’t look like a bubble, if there was a bubble, the bursting of it has been outsourced from the private owners of these companies to the public owners.

Meet the Hundreds of Officials Trump Has Quietly Installed Across the Government (ProPublica)
A Trump campaign aide who argues that Democrats committed “ethnic cleansing” in a plot to “liquidate” the white working class. A former reality show contestant whose study of societal collapse inspired him to invent a bow-and-arrow-cum-survivalist multi-tool. An “evangelist” and lobbyist for Palantir, the Silicon Valley company with close ties to intelligence agencies. And a New Hampshire Trump supporter who has only recently graduated from high school. These are just some of the people Trump has hired for positions across the federal government.

Valuation Shell Game: Silicon Valley’s Dirty Secret (NYT)
Valuing private companies is often a difficult and imprecise exercise, even though the experts can come up with a number that feels real. “The thought that ANYONE can be precise about the value of a private company to the second decimal place is preposterous,” Bill Gurley, general partner at venture capital firm Benchmark, said. “No one that is properly trained in finance should have ANY confidence in such an exercise. As such it’s become a bureaucratic waste of time.”

Corporate Insiders Haven’t Been This Uninterested in Buying Stocks Since Ronald Reagan Was President (WSJ)
Insider buyers have been scant. There were a total of 279 insider buyers in January, the lowest in records of publicly traded companies that are required to disclose going back to 1988.

Show Me The Money (Bill Gross)
"And so," my oldest son, Jeff, said as he stroked his beardless chin like a scientist just discovering the mystery of black holes. "That sounds like a good thing. The problem I'll bet comes when there are too many pizza stores (think subprime mortgages) and the interest on all of the loans couldn't be paid and everyone wants the dollar back that they think is theirs. Sounds like 2008 to me – something like Lehman Brothers." "Yep," I said, as I got up to get a Coke from the refrigerator. "Something like Lehman Brothers."

A Single Bitcoin Transaction Takes Thousands of Times More Energy Than a Credit Card Swipe (Vice)
A new index has recently modeled potential energy costs per transaction as high as 94 kWh, or enough electricity to power 3.17 households for a day. To put it another way, that's almost enough energy to fully charge the battery of a Tesla Model S P100D, the world's quickest production car, and drive it over 300 miles.

Women don't want chips when they see a good-looking man, say scientists (Telegraph)
Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark published their findings in the research Journal Food Quality and Preference, and said women prefer low-calorie foods when in front of someone they are attracted to. People have taken to social media to rubbish the claims, saying they fancy chips all the time and that they would rather have both fast food and the attentions of a good-looking fellow.

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(Getty Images for Yahoo Finance)

Opening Bell: 7.28.17

Barclays hits the skids; Scaramucci gets a few things off his chest; robbing bank, stripping nude and throwing cash actually comedy routine, says guy; and more.

NoelGallagherBrexit

Opening Bell: 6.9.17

UK election results threaten Brexit, sanity; Scaramucci finally gets that job in Paris he always wanted; Travis Kalanick's inspiring struggle with one night of celibacy; and more.

Opening Bell: 02.05.13

Barclays CEO Vows To Improve Bank's Ethics (WSJ) Chief Executive Antony Jenkins said Tuesday he is "shredding" the legacy of the bank's self-serving culture by improving its ethics and moving beyond the misconduct issues that have cost it billions of pounds. Mr. Jenkins told a U.K. parliamentary group that his efforts so far include changing the way employee bonuses are calculated and abolishing commissions on financial-product sales. He said the changes would take time to produce results, but that ultimately he wants to eliminate a culture that at times has been "too short-term focused, too aggressive and on occasions, too self-serving." "Our resolve and intent behind this is absolute," Mr. Jenkins said. McGraw-Hill, S&P Sued by U.S. Over Mortgage-Bond Ratings (Bloomberg) The U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint Monday in federal court in Los Angeles, accusing McGraw-Hill and S&P of mail fraud, wire fraud and financial institutions fraud. Under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, the U.S. seeks civil penalties that can be as high as $1.1 million for each violation. Earlier today, the company’s shares tumbled the most in 25 years when it said it expected the lawsuit, the first federal case against a ratings firm for grades related to the credit crisis. “It’s a new use of this statute,” Claire Hill, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who has written about the ratings firms, said in a phone interview today from Minneapolis. “This is not a line to my knowledge that has been taken before.” Dell Nears $25 Billion Deal To Go Private (WSJ) Late Monday, Mr. Dell was in talks with Microsoft Corp and private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners to offer shareholders between $13.50 and $13.75 a share, said people familiar with the matter, about a 25% premium to Dell's stock price in January before the possibility of a deal became public. The buyout, if approved by shareholders, would be the largest such deal since the financial crisis. It also would be an admission by Mr. Dell that he wasn't able to pull off the changes needed to improve his company's revenue and profit under Wall Street's glare. The buyout would give Mr. Dell the largest stake in the company, ensuring that the 47-year-old is the one who gets to oversee any changes. Gross: Beware 'Credit Supernova' Looming Ahead (CNBC) The head of the Pacific Investment Management bond giant has issued an ominous forecast in which he worries that the global central bank-induced credit bubble "is running out of energy and time." As a result, investors will have to get used to an atmosphere of diminishing returns and portfolios that will hold more hard assets like commodities and fewer less-tangible financial assets like stocks. "Our credit-based financial markets and the economy it supports are levered, fragile and increasingly entropic," Gross said in his February newsletter. Obama to Meet With CEOs of Goldman, Yahoo, Other Firms (Reuters) President Barack Obama will meet with chief executives from 12 companies including Goldman Sachs Group's Lloyd Blankfein and Yahoo's Marissa Mayer on Tuesday to discuss immigration and deficit reduction, according to a White House official. "The president will continue his engagement with outside leaders on a number of issues, including immigration reform and how it fits into his broader economic agenda, and his efforts to achieve balanced deficit reduction," the official said Monday. Other chief executives include Arne Sorenson of Marriott International, Jeff Smisek of United Continental Holdings, and Klaus Kleinfeld of Alcoa. A Billion-Dollar Club And Not So Exclusive (NYT) an unprecedented number of high technology start-ups, easily 25 and possibly exceeding 40, are valued at $1 billion or more. Many employees are quietly getting rich, or at least building a big cushion against a crash, as they sell shares to outside investors. Airbnb, Pinterest, SurveyMonkey and Spotify are among the better-known privately held companies that have reached $1 billion. But many more with less familiar names, including Box, Violin Memory and Zscaler, are selling services to other companies. “A year from now that might be 100,” said Jim Goetz, a partner at Sequoia Capital, a venture capital business. Sequoia counts a dozen such companies in its portfolio. It is part of what he calls “a permanent change” in the way people are building their companies and financers are pushing up values. The owners of these companies say the valuations make them giddy, but also create unease. Once $1 billion was a milestone, now it is also a millstone. Bigger expectations must be managed and greater uncertainty looms. Donald Trump to sue Bill Maher after bet feud (Politico) Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Monday in California against liberal comic Bill Maher, suing him for $5 million after Trump says Maher did not follow through on a $5 million public bet he made on “The Tonight Show.” “I don’t know whether this case will be won or lost, but I felt a major obligation to bring it on behalf of the charities,” Trump said in a public statement first obtained by POLITICO. Last month, Maher said on NBC to Jay Leno that he would pay $5 million to Trump’s charity of choice if he provided a birth certificate proving that he’s not “spawn of his mother having sex with orangutan.” It was similar to an offer Trump made to President Barack Obama during the presidential campaign season, in which Trump wanted Obama to release his college records. Trump’s statement continued: “Bill Maher made an unconditional offer while offer while on The Jay Leno Show and I, without hesitation, accepted his offer and provided him with the appropriate documentation. Money-Market Funds Best By Excess Cash (WSJ) Money-market funds have a high-quality problem: investors are entrusting them with too much cash. The flood of money is prompting the funds, which buy short-term, top-rated debt, to seek higher returns in investments that until recently were seen as too risky, including French bank debt. Investors plowed $149 billion into U.S.-based money-market funds between the start of November and Jan. 30, bringing total assets under management to $2.695 trillion, close to the most since mid-2011, according to the Investment Company Institute. Knight Capital Group to Cut Workforce by 5 Percent (Reuters) Knight Capital, which recently agreed to be bought for $1.4 billion by Getco, will lay off 5 percent of its global workforce as part of efforts to restructure the automated trading firm, according to a regulatory filing released on Monday. FTC Corrects Language On Herbalife (NYP) The Federal Trade Commission yesterday corrected an earlier statement regarding a “law enforcement investigation” into Herbalife. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Post, the FTC said some complaints against the company were withheld because the information was “obtained through a law enforcement investigation.” The agency said yesterday that the language in its letter accompanying the FOIA request was incorrect and it should have said that the exemption from disclosure was related to “foreign sources.” FTC spokesman Frank Dorman defined “foreign sources” as government entities, including law enforcement agencies, and the exemption relates to information-sharing between the FTC and these foreign government agencies. The FTC said that it “may not disclose any material reflecting a consumer complaint obtained from a foreign source if that foreign source has requested confidential information.” The agency said it could not confirm, or deny, an investigation into the nutritional supplements company. Hedge Fund Mogul, Swiss Villagers Clash Over Ski Slopes (Bloomberg) Since hotelier Tobias Zurbriggen can remember, the business of running Saas-Fee has been a local affair. Now, the Swiss ski resort neighboring the Matterhorn is feeling the heat from a New York-based financier. Edmond Offermann, a nuclear scientist turned millionaire working for hedge fund Renaissance Technologies LLC, invested 15 million Swiss francs ($16.4 million) in 2010 to revive Saas- Fee’s struggling ski-lift company. “It’s like a hobby, which completely got out of control,” Offermann, 53, said in an interview from Long Island, New York. He wants to shake things up by managing hotels and the ski-lift operator in one company controlled by a single chief executive. JPMorgan Joins Rental Rush For Wealthy Clients (Bloomberg) The firm’s unit that caters to individuals and families with more than $5 million, put client money in a partnership that bought more than 5,000 single family homes to rent in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California, said David Lyon, a managing director and investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. Investors can expect returns of as much as 8 percent annually from rental incomeas well as part of the profits when the homes are sold, he said. Man Allegedly Tries To Walk Out Of Costco With 24 Quarts Of Oil — Strapped To His Body (CBS) Jorge Sanchez, 35, was spotted about 4:30 p.m. trying to leave a Burbank Costco without paying for the oil. Store employees gave chase and officials said they lost Sanchez after he jumped a fence at the west side of the Costco parking lot. Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn told CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Andrea Fujii that nine of the 24 quarts were recovered during the foot chase. Authorities said Sanchez walked into the Costco and went straight to the oil aisle. He allegedly grabbed a couple of cases and emptied them. Said Ryburn, “He proceeded to hide the quarts of oil in his pants, socks, and in his shirt.” Sanchez was later apprehended near Beachwood Drive and Monterey Avenue, about eight blocks from the store. Officials said he was arrested on suspicion of burglary charges. Margo Martin was a witness to the apprehension. “All of a sudden, I hear ‘Get down on the ground’ and there is this man laying in our driveway.” Witnesses thought the man was running funny and weren’t sure why. Witness Manuel Atlas said, “He looked kind of heavy and out of shape.” Police said Sanchez was also running funny because he still had 15 quarts of oil strapped to him. Police said he used a bungee cord to strap the bottles down.

Mmm...sunscreen. (Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 8.23.16

China's Bank of Tangshan called "mirage" of shadow lending; Trump getting little love from hedge funds; No one wants to buy Lyft; KFC introduces fried chicken-scented sunscreen; and more.

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Opening Bell: 7.27.17

As of 7:55 a.m., Anthony Scaramucci is having a pretty rough day; Deutsche Bank whiffs; Libor going bye-bye; Ray Dalio poetry; and more.

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Opening Bell: 9.19.17

Maybe we've got this whole QE unwind thing backwards; Bill Gross is merely average; the sharing economy comes to sex dolls; and more.

Opening Bell: 5.16.16

LendingClub receives Justice Department subpoena; Scaramucci thinks Trump has "the analytical depth to pull this thing off"; Top policewoman suspended after 'argument with colleague over who had the best breasts'; and more.