Opening Bell: 4.18.17

Larry Fink does not "identify as powerful"; ETFs are taking over Canada; apparently Navy SEALs can't do porn; and more.
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Larry Fink Q&A: “I Don’t Identify as Powerful” (BBG)
Let’s say you have a thousand baseball players. The majority hit .250. We’ll have 45 who hit .300, and we’ll have 10 to 15 who can hit consistently over .300. I don’t believe investing is much different, and I believe the trend will still be toward beta, factors, smart beta.

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BofA's profit boosted by surge in trading (Reuters)
Excluding special items, the bank's trading activities brought in $4 billion, a 21.2 percent rise. Revenue from fixed-income trading surged about 29 percent, while equity trading revenue rose about 7 percent, boosted by volatility around the Fed's interest rate hikes.

Steve Ballmer Serves Up a Fascinating Data Trove (NYT)
As he looked for a new endeavor — before he decided to buy the Clippers — his wife, Connie, encouraged him to help with some of her philanthropic efforts, an idea he initially rejected. “But come on, doesn’t the government take care of the poor, the sick, the old?” Mr. Ballmer recalled telling her. After all, he pointed out, he happily paid a lot of taxes, and he figured that all that tax money should create a sufficient social safety net.

Silver Lake Raises $15 Billion Fund for New Tech Deals (NYT)
Silver Lake plans to announce on Tuesday that it has closed its fifth buyout fund at $15 billion, one of the biggest ever dedicated to technology deals. That exceeds the $12.5 billion fund-raising target that the firm had previously aimed for and brings the firm’s total assets and committed capital to about $39 billion.

What's the benefit of catching traders who spoof the markets? (The Hill)
The price impacts of spoofing are trivially small. The government’s own expert in the Sarao case estimated that a large spurious order moved prices by just 0.003 percent. Moreover, since the strategy regularly reverses direction, spoofing causes oscillations of such tiny magnitudes, rather than persistent price dislocations.

How An ETF Gets Too Big For Its Index (ETF.com)
The ETF has gotten so big that it now owns giant stakes in its underlying holdings, three-quarters of which are Canadian companies. According to an analysis by Scotiabank, there are 10 Canadian companies that the ETF owns where its ownership percentage is more than 18%. For six of those companies, the percentage would be even greater, but presumably, the fund doesn't want to exceed the 20% level, which would force the ETF "to automatically extend a takeover offer to all remaining shareholders at the same terms," according to a Scotiabank report.

Securities-based loans are scaring fiscal experts (NYP)
At least one concerned financial executive is in talks with lawyers to file a whistleblower case over the issue against a major bank with the Securities and Exchange Commission, The Post has learned. “When the market does turn, and it will at some point, it will be a major disaster,” said the exec, who requested confidentiality in exchange for speaking on the issue with The Post.

A 9,800% Stock Increase Exposes Hong Kong's Billionaires on Paper (BBG)
Take Wong Wing-wah, who used to be a fishmonger before starting a civil engineering firm. He took his company public last year -- and its stock then soared 9,800 percent. Wong and a partner, who together own nearly all of the stock, are each now worth roughly $1 billion. Their company, Luen Wong Group Holdings Ltd., reported just $1 million in profit last year.

Decorated Navy SEAL investigated for alleged side job as porn star (The Hill)
Schmidt’s wife, porn star Jewels Jade, said her husband got involved in the porn business to help the family pay its bills. “It helped our family. It got us out of a lot of financial issues we were going through,” Jade told the Tribune. “I could take care of the children. I could try to get us out of financial debt.”

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Opening Bell: 6.5.17

John Paulson's money could use company; ETF battles are getting intense; Canada Man mows lawn near tornado, UK Man flees terror attack with pint; and more.

Allow me to introduce you to my dear friend, some banker at the BofA branch next door. By roanokecollege [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 3.30.17

Merrill Lynch rejiggers itself; Larry Fink is now a modern art masterpiece; Cristiano Ronaldo is too, arguably; and more.

Opening Bell: 4.21.15

Credit Suisse beats expectations; The club promoter turned trader; Larry Fink says NYC apartments > gold; "The crack is not for me it's for my wife"; and more.

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Opening Bell: 7.25.17

John Cryan opens up (kind of); Goldman bids adieu to ETF market making; Wisconsin company literally getting under employees' skin; and more.

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Opening Bell: 2.28.17

Masayoshi Son invests because the Singularity is nigh; an ETF for homophobes; peeping tom drone strikes NYC apartment; and more.

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Opening Bell: 7.31.17

JPMorgan rolls out trading robot; HSBC lives; Floyd Mayweather will make a "shit ton of money" from an ICO; the weird, sad world of bespoke porn; and more.

Opening Bell: 02.26.13

J.P. Morgan’s Investor Day: Cut That Headcount (Deal Journal) JP Morgan is looking to cut another $1 billion out of its expenses this year, including somewhere around 4,000 jobs, according to a new presentation...And that may not be all the cuts. In a separate presentation on the consumer bank and mortgage operations the bank expects to cut costs in mortgage banking by $3 billion over this year and next year and cut headcount there by between 13,000 and 15,000. Banks Face Hurdle In Libor Fight (WSJ) Next week, lawyers for Barclays PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, UBS AG and more than a dozen other banks still under investigation are expected to ask a federal-court judge to throw out many of the suits, which seek class-action status. The suits, filed in civil court in California and New York by plaintiffs ranging from a retired cable-car driver in San Francisco to the city of Baltimore, have been piling up for nearly two years. They seek damages that could reach into the tens of billions of dollars from financial institutions that help determine the London interbank offered rate, or Libor. Barclays, RBS and UBS already have paid about $2.5 billion, and admitted wrongdoing, to settle rate-rigging allegations by U.S. and U.K. regulators. In court filings, lawyers for the 16 banks accused of wrongdoing say the lawsuits have no legal validity. The lawyers say regulatory settlements reached so far don't support the central allegation in most of the civil suits that banks engaged in illegal, anticompetitive behavior. Berlusconi Concedes as He Weighs Alliance (Bloomberg) Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi acknowledged rival Pier Luigi Bersani’s narrow victory in the lower house of Parliament and said he’s open to a broad alliance to avoid a second election. “Everyone needs to think what good can be done for Italy and this will take some time,” Berlusconi said in an interview with Canale 5, a station owned by his Mediaset SpA broadcaster. The country can’t be left without a government, he said. Lew gettin’ close: Senate panel to OK as next Treasury boss (NYP) Treasury Secretary-nominee Jack Lew will get the green light to replace Tim Geithner despite taking heat during and after his confirmation hearing over a loan he received from New York University. The 57-year-old former White House chief of staff has enough votes from the Senate Finance Committee, headed by Max Baucus (D-Mont.), to pass a vote today that will likely lead to his confirmation, sources said. A full Senate vote is likely to be scheduled in a couple of days and held sometime next week. Larry Summers: Sequestration 'Meat Cleaver' Is Irresponsible (CNBC) Avoiding the "sequester" is "round three" in the debt-reduction debate, former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers told CNBC Tuesday, arguing for a "balanced approach" because President Barack Obama has agreed to more spending cuts than revenue during the process. In a "Squawk Box" interview, Summers said the funding constraints of the Budget Control Act of 2011 — which resolved that year's debt ceiling crisis — were round one. "You had spending cuts that were far larger from the discretionary side, that were far larger than anything [on revenue] that happened in December. Right now, we're way in balance toward more spending cuts." Dominique Strauss-Kahn seeks to ban 'half-man half-pig' book (Telegraph) The "biographical novel" by Marcela Iacub, a lawyer and journalist, recounts her seven-month affair with the 64-year-old Mr Strauss-Kahn last year. It is due to be published on Wednesday under the title, Belle et Bête, or Beauty and Beast. But the one-time Socialist presidential hopeful will this morning seek to have the book banned for "violation of the intimacy of private life" and the author and her publisher fined 100,000 euros (£88,000) in damages...In the work, she claims Mr Strauss-Kahn would have transformed the Elysée Palace into a "giant swingers' club" had he been elected French president. In fresh accounts by those who have read the book yesterday, the last chapter narrates the pair's final encounter, ending in Miss Iacub receiving treatment in casualty after "the pig" left her with an "eaten ear". Mr Strauss-Kahn has slammed the work of a woman who "seduces to write a book, claiming to have amorous feelings to exploit them for financial gain". Gupta's Gotta Pay GS $6.2 Million (NYP) Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta was ordered yesterday by a Manhattan federal judge to fork over a whopping $6.2 million to repay the Wall Street bank for legal fees it spent during the government’s probe of Gupta’s insider-trading case. The 64-year-old fallen star was convicted last year of giving up secrets he learned while on Goldman’s board to his pal and hedge fund honcho Raj Rajaratnam. Among the counts, the jury found Gupta guilty of giving Rajaratnam a tip on Warren Buffett’s $5 billion investment in Goldman in the throes of the financial crisis. Gupta, the former head of consulting firm McKinsey, is out on bail while he appeals the ruling. Goldman had requested restitution of $6.9 million — and submitted 542 pages of billing records from its lawyers at Sullivan Cromwell. Yahoo’s Mayer Risks Productivity With Work-From-Home Restriction (Bloomberg) Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s executive vice president of people and development, sent a memo last week asking employees with work-from-home arrangements to make their way to the company’s offices, starting June. “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side,” according to the memo, whose contents were confirmed by a Yahoo employee who asked not to be identified because it’s not a public document. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.” At a time when Mayer is under pressure to jump-start growth and create innovative products, the shift may compromise Yahoo’s ability to attract employees seeking the freedom to work outside the office -- a perk offered by many of the company’s competitors. Research suggests that working from home enhances productivity, said Jody Thompson, co-founder of workforce consultant CultureRx. BP Oil-Spill Trial Begins (WSJ) Both Transocean and the Justice Department focused part of their opening statements on a 10-minute ship-to-shore phone call between two BP engineers, Donald Vidrine and Mark Hafle, less than an hour before the blast. From the rig, Mr. Vidrine allegedly talked about unusual results from a test designed to ensure the cement sealing in the bottom of the well was successful. Investigators later found that rig workers misinterpreted the results of the test. Dennis Rodman Bound For North Korea (Reuters) Retired U.S. basketball player Dennis Rodman is to visit North Korea to film a television documentary and will arrive in the capital Pyongyang on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. Rodman, now 51 years old, won five NBA championships in his prime, achieving a mix of fame and notoriety for his on- and off-court antics. Thirty-year-old North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who has launched two long-range rockets and carried out a nuclear weapons test during his first year in power, is reported to be an avid NBA fan and had pictures taken with players from the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers during his school days in Switzerland. "At a time when tensions between the two countries (the United States and North Korea) are running high, it's important to keep lines of communication open, no matter how non-traditional those channels are," AP quoted Shane Smith, the founder of VICE, which is to make the TV series, as saying.

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Opening Bell: 3.23.17

How to fool the Securities and Exchange Commission; how to short Uber; how to air porn on a fundamentalist Islamic TV station; and more.