Opening Bell: 6.12.17

Lloyd Blankfein trolls and is trolled; Travis Kalanick might be taking a little sabbatical; sometimes you have to eat a book on live television; and more.
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Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein trolled Trump on Twitter at the worst possible time (BI)
"Just landed from China, trying to catch up.... How did "infrastructure week" go," Blankfein quipped on Twitter Friday afternoon. That followed another tweet Blankfein sent on Tuesday: "Arrived in China, as always impressed by condition of airport, roads, cell service, etc. US needs to invest in infrastructure to keep up!"

Lloyd Zoom

Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein joins Mark Carney and Jes Staley on list of bankers hoodwinked by the email prankster (CityAM)
The "Email Prankster" revealed on Twitter an exchange between Blankfein and alias Harvey Schwarz, who is actually Goldman Sachs' president and co-chief operating officer. Schwarz praised the billionaire on a tweet he had written as winning a humour award. "Trump will be so pissed," he said. Blankfein responded with a seemingly guarded response in praise of China's infrastructure. Schwarz then laid on further praise, wondering if the Wall Street heavyweight had considered going to Las Vegas as a comedian. "I'd settle for getting away with it," Blankfein responded.

General Electric's Jeff Immelt is stepping down; John Flannery named chairman and CEO (CNBC)
"Jeff brought his best every day for 16 years," Welch said in a statement Monday. "I wish him the very best in the many good years he has ahead." Shareholders, though, have not been happy with the company's financial performance over the past decade under Immelt's leadership, Barclays Managing Director Scott Davis told CNBC. The CEO was struggling to connect with investors, and now many are expecting "fairly dramatic changes" under Flannery, he said.

Hedge Fund Delivers 19% Return by Betting Only on Safest Bonds (BBG)
The best returns are not in the riskiest stocks but in the least risky bonds. But you can’t get them without leverage. That philosophy helped Asgard Fixed Income Fund deliver a 19 percent return in the past year. “That’s the core of our strategy,” Morten Mathiesen, 45, chief investment adviser at Copenhagen-based Moma Advisors A/S, said in a phone interview on Thursday. “The best risk-adjusted returns are actually the low vol trades.”

Despite Hopes, ‘Flash Boys’ Heroes Are Far From Reshaping U.S. Stock Market (WSJ)
IEX “opened people’s eyes to some of the improprieties that have occurred in the past,” Anthony Godonis, head of trading for the Americas at Aberdeen Asset Management, said. “And that has been great for market structure.” Whether it is great for IEX remains to be seen.

Uber Weighs Leave of Absence for Chief Executive (NYT)
Uber directors weighed a three-month leave of absence for Travis Kalanick, the chief executive who built the start-up into a nearly $70 billion entity, according to three people with knowledge of the board’s agenda. In addition, a representative for Uber’s board said the directors “unanimously voted” to adopt all of the recommendations made in a report by the former attorney general Eric Holder, who was retained to investigate the company’s culture. One of the recommendations included the departure of a top lieutenant to Mr. Kalanick, Emil Michael. [RELATED: www.istravisstillceo.com]

Who will take over for Uber CEO Travis Kalanick if he takes a leave of absence? (Recode)
If Kalanick does temporarily step away from his role, there are very few people left at the company who could easily step in and run it in his stead — particularly if Uber SVP of business Emil Michael is fired or gives into pressure from the board and resigns. The company has no COO, CFO, CMO or SVP of engineering and all of those vacancies are without accounting for the possible terminations that several sources suspect will happen as a result of the Holder report. In addition, several sources at Uber said attrition among the rank-and-file staff has spiked.

Cost of ‘Black Swan’ bet on falling markets hits pre-crisis low (FT)
At a time when equity markets continue to grind higher and most investors are betting that volatility will remain low, the potential for big payouts worth many multiples of their cost is tempting a small number of hedge funds to take the other side of that trade. Options using the so-called one month 97-93 per cent put spread on the S&P 500, which requires the index to fall by between 3 and 7 per cent in a month to be profitable, currently allows a maximum profit of $4 for contracts that cost $0.16, or a 25 times return.

How Badly Must a C.E.O. Behave Before His Pay Is Clawed Back? (NYT)
In a letter to the pension fund, a lawyer for United explained that it would harm the company to give the board “unfettered discretion to recoup compensation” in cases involving wrongdoing. “Where such discretion is out of step with industry norms,” the letter said, it would “make it difficult for United to recruit and retain top talent, particularly at the senior management level.” In other words, clawing back severance awarded to executives amid a bribery investigation is not industry practice. And if United pursued such a recovery, the airline would be an outlier and unable to hire good people.

Exchanges stranglehold on data costs stifling market activity (The Trade)
Many believe exchanges have indulged in monopolistic practices by ramping up data fees, as well as introducing complex and strict new data licensing measures. “In terms of the data costs, they do not rise uniformly, they come in waves. This results in an inflationary effect. You have internal infrastructure costs, but this combined with the inelastic demand for data causes end-user costs to increase,” said Will Cowling, exchange market data strategy, UBS.

Delta Yanks Support for NYC's Public Theater Over Trumplike ‘Caesar’ (BBG)
Delta Air Lines Inc. revoked sponsorship of New York’s famed Public Theater because its summer production of “Julius Caesar” is staged with an assassinated title character who resembles Donald Trump. “No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” Delta spokeswoman Ashton Morrow said in an emailed statement. “Their artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.”

This British Pundit Just Ate A Book On TV Because This Year Isn’t Weird Enough (HuffPo)
“I am a man of my word, so what I’m gonna do is sit here, and eat my book, while you guys carry on,” he told the host before proceeding to rip out a few pages of his book on last year’s Brexit vote.

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