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Opening Bell: 5.22.17

Steve Schwarzman finds $20 billion in Saudi Arabia; Ford trades in for a new CEO; Trump gropes the orb of power; and more.
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By Lishabai Yi (Middle Kingdom Media Ltd.) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Lishabai Yi (Middle Kingdom Media Ltd.) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Saudis’ $20 Billion Wager With Blackstone Marks Record Bet on U.S. Public Works (WSJ)
Saudi Arabia’s planned $20 billion investment alone would be about 25% larger than the biggest infrastructure fund ever raised, a $15.8 billion pool Global Infrastructure Partners completed earlier this year. [RELATED: Top executives who descended on Riyadh for a CEO summit timed to coincide with Trump’s visit included JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, Blackstone Group LP CEO Steve Schwarzman, and Marillyn Hewson, the CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.]

The Quants Run Wall Street Now (WSJ)
“You take tours of offices, and everyone is always pointing out some guy off in a corner, working on his own,” says Alexandru Agachi, chief operating officer at Empiric Capital Ltd., a startup quant hedge fund in London. “They say with pride: ‘Over there is our quant. He’s building signals.’”

Ford to fire CEO Fields as challenges mount (Reuters)
Ford Motor Co. is set to replace Chief Executive Mark Fields with James Hackett, the head of its mobility arm, company sources said, responding to growing investor unease over the U.S. carmaker's stock performance and prospects. The departure of Fields, 56, is likely to be announced on Monday, the sources said, adding Hackett, 62-year-old head of the division responsible for autonomous driving, would take the helm in a broader shake-up aimed at speeding up decision making and improving execution.

Commodity Traders Have a Really Big Problem (BBG)
“The most valuable commodity out there is information, and the most useful information is the proprietary, critical information that you obtain from your own supply chain,” said John Driscoll, the chief strategist at JTD Energy Services Pte, who has spent more than 30 years in the petroleum trading industry in Singapore. “You have to have skin in the game. You have to have access to assets, whether it’s infrastructure, terminals, vessels or refineries.”

One In Three Students Willing To Use Sex To Finance Their Studies (UK Independent)
Of the 920 participants who answered the question: “How far would you have gone for a free education supplied by someone who you were attracted to?”, 75 per cent said they would have at least given up some of their time to a sugar daddy figure.

Barclays tightens email security after Jes Staley hoax (FT)
After a bruising annual meeting this month, Barclays’ chief executive Jes Staley replied to an email purporting to be from John McFarlane, which was in fact from a disaffected Barclays customer using the Gmail account john.mcfarlane.barclays@gmail.com. To prevent a recurrence of the security lapse, Barclays has decided to activate a warning message whenever an employee sends a message to an external email address on a mobile device, which previously only happened on desktop computers.

Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt (BBG)
Even when borrowers don't default, debt collection efforts often yield little. Close to 80 percent of borrowers who rehabilitate their debt make the minimum $5 monthly payment, according to a 2015 estimate. That means the Education Department is paying its debt collectors up to $1,710 per borrower to collect around $45, regardless of whether the borrower continues to make her payments.

Barclays to hire 100 staff in private banking push (Reuters)
The push marks a change in direction for the British lender after a previous failed expansion ended in 2014 with Barclays folding its wealth management business back into its retail bank as it missed ambitious growth targets. [...] "It's an unforgiving and brutal market at the moment, with a very expensive delivery model and competition that's driving pricing down," said Seb Dovey, managing partner and private banking expert at Scorpio Partnership.

Donald Trump Gropes Orb of Power (Jezebel)
Maybe the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology only has one orb left and these three men all want it. Maybe Trump’s been led to think the orb has magical powers. That is definitely the face of a man who believes he will soon be growing his own hair again. Or, could it be that Trump was lured to the center in the first place by the promise of getting to do freaky orb stuff? The US President is moaning loudly, rhythmically, and everyone around him is pretending not to notice. [COUNTERPOINT: The Trump administration, lookism, and the Saudis]

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By Lishabai Yi (Middle Kingdom Media Ltd.) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 6.6.17

Steve Schwarzman misses all the brave old people in finance; Harvard endowment dumps Eric Mindich; sex in space would be a bodily horror; and more.

By Lishabai Yi (Middle Kingdom Media Ltd.) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 5.3.17

Steve Schwarzman wants better PR; London greets Ackman with stiff upper lip; man honors friend by flushing him down every toilet in baseball; 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.

Getty Images

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.

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.

By Lishabai Yi (Middle Kingdom Media Ltd.) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 2.19.21

Izzy Englander cutting blank checks to himself; compliant Coinbase; Jeff Immelt doesn’t know; Steve Schwarzman’s dealing with more ingrates; and more!

SaudiSauron

Opening Bell: 10.22.18

Saudi Arabia crisis still crisis-y; Sears seeks a friend for the end of its world; Italy gives il finger to the EU; Headless chicken monster shows itself; and more!

Opening Bell: 03.09.12

US Adds 227,000 Jobs (WSJ) U.S. job creation remained solid in February and was stronger in previous months than initially thought, marking one of the economy's best stretches of the nearly three-year-old recovery. Jobs outside of agriculture grew by 227,000 last month, the Labor Department said Friday. Meanwhile, employers added 284,000 jobs in January—roughly 40,000 higher than an initial estimate—and job creation was also revised higher for December. Overall, the economy has added an average 245,000 jobs over the past three months—more than double the pace of job creation between May and November. The unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, remained at 8.3%, as both hiring and the number of job seekers increased. Greece Passes Key Debt Test (WSJ) Just over 80% of Greece's private-sector creditors had agreed by a Thursday evening deadline to turn in their bonds for new ones with less than half the face value, touching off a massive debt swap that marks a seminal moment in Europe's long-frustrated efforts to rescue its most financially vulnerable nation. The Greek government announced the results of its proposed restructuring early Friday morning. It said 83% of bondholders had voluntarily submitted to the deal, and that it would invoke so-called collective-action clauses to impose the exchange on most of the rest, bringing participation up to 96%. Citigroup Gives Vikram Pandit $14.9 Million 2011 Pay Package (Bloomberg) The bank said it gave Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit $14.9 million in total compensation for 2011, including his first bonus since the lender almost collapsed in 2008. The package included $1.67 million of salary and a $5.33 million cash bonus, the New York-based lender said yesterday in a regulatory filing. The award reflects Citigroup’s return to profitability under Pandit, who became CEO in December 2007, the bank’s personnel and compensation committee said in the filing. The payout also rewards his performance last year, which he spent grappling with a revenue slump as the European sovereign-debt crisis roiled markets. DA putting the screws to 'brothel boss' Anna Gristina (NYP) They pressed her over and over, pushed a list of 10 Big Apple power players at her — and demanded she spill the beans on the roster of real-estate moguls and investment bankers. “Some I knew, some I didn’t,” accused Upper East Side brothel boss Anna Gristina told The Post yesterday about an hours-long grilling she received from Manhattan prosecutors. But they kept pressing, bringing in more and more investigators to intimidate her. “In effect, it was, ‘Tell us what we want, and we’ll let you go,’ ” Gristina said. But her defiance, she believes, is what led them to charge her with a single count of prostitution. And that’s when she realized she must be part of a much larger investigation. “It’s not about me; it’s bigger than me,” Gristina said during an exclusive interview at Rikers Island, where she remains jailed. “They’re trying to sweat me out. They are clearly trying to break me.” The self-described “hockey mom” and real-estate developer claims to have no idea why prosecutors are so intent on digging up dirt on those men — half of whom she said she knew as either friends or business associates. “I’d bite my tongue off before I’d tell them anything,” Gristina vowed. Nasdaq, NYSE still fighting over Facebook listing (NYP) The chief executives of both exchanges are said to have taken the rare move of personally appearing at pitch meetings..."The history would go toward Nasdaq, but the trend is toward the NYSE," said the co-head of NYSE's listings business, Scott Cutler. Meanwhile, his Nasdaq counterpart, Robert McCooey, shot back, "Just because someone climbs to the highest mountain and shouts that they're the home for technology doesn't mean they're the home for technology. Just because I could say 'I'm 6 foot 2 and I look like Brad Pitt' doesn't mean it's true." Banks foreclosing on churches in record numbers (Reuters) The surge in church foreclosures represents a new wave of distressed property seizures triggered by the 2008 financial crash, analysts say, with many banks no longer willing to grant struggling religious organizations forbearance. Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, with 90 percent of those sales coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure, according to the real estate information company CoStar Group. In 2011, 138 churches were sold by banks, an annual record, with no sign that these religious foreclosures are abating, according to CoStar. That compares to just 24 sales in 2008 and only a handful in the decade before. BofA Makes Mortgage Deal (WSJ) More than 200,000 financially strapped households will have a chance to sharply reduce their mortgage balances under a side deal negotiated by Bank of America Corp. that could allow the bank to avoid as much as $850 million in penalties. Under the arrangement, part of the recent $25 billion settlement of alleged foreclosure abuses between government officials and five large lenders, Bank of America will make deeper and broader cuts in balances than other banks. The plan will offer qualifying borrowers a chance to cut their mortgage balances to their home's current market value. Other banks are required under the national settlement to cut principal to no more than 120% of the home's value. Donald Trump, pal of New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, would love to see Peyton Manning play for the Miami Dolphins (NYDN) “First of all (Dolphins owner) Steve Ross is a very good friend of mine,” Trump bellowed before a roomful of reporters and TV cameras at the WGC Cadillac Championship, where Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy were fighting it out in the first round. “He’s a member of my club in Palm Beach and I think Peyton would be great for Miami. It would be a fantastic thing for this area...I’m a fan. I’m a friend. I did a commercial with Peyton and his brother for Oreo, which got the commercial of the year, and I think it was because of them, not of me. But I did a big commercial and it was an amazing commercial."