Opening Bell: 6.27.17

More on the Biden-Ackman affair: “If I could, I’d punch you in the face”; Europe demands Google pony up $2.4 billion; Uber for poop; and more.
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What Really Happened Between Joe Biden and Bill Ackman (NYMag)
Biden started talking about Syria and then maneuvered the conversation back to Trump. “At this point, I’m not going to say anything more,” Biden said. Then Ackman said to Biden, “Why start doing that now?” — a reference to the vice president’s well-known penchant for speaking his mind. One source at the table tells New York he heard it as an attempt to lighten the mood. Ackman confirms that this was his intent. “Who’s this wiseass,” Biden then said. He turned to Ackman and added, “Do you want to take this outside?” Ackman thought Biden was kidding, and others in attendance had the same impression.
ALSO SEE: Joe Biden wanted to ‘punch’ hedge fund billionaire in the face.

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EU fines Google €2.4bn over abuse of search dominance (FT)
The commission’s decision is the first time a big competition regulator has sanctioned the way Google operates and lays the foundations for cases about the company’s behaviour in other specialist search markets. The commission found Google “systematically” gave prominent placement to its own in-house service, demoted rival comparison shopping services in search results, so “even the most highly ranked rival service appears on average only on page four of Google’s search results”.

Ethereum Drops 24%, Bitcoin Loses, Too, Amid Cryptocurrency Selloff (WSJ)
The most prominent drop came in ether, the digital currency used on the Ethereum network that is still reeling from trading problems last week. Ether fell 24% Monday to $231, and has now lost 41% of its value from its peak June 14, according to data from Coindesk. Meanwhile, bitcoin was down 7% at $2,424. They were not alone. Thirty-eight of the top 40 digital currencies listed on the site Crypto Market Cap were all down, including other prominent coins like ripple, down 8.6%, and litecoin, down 14%.

Deutsche Bank Wasn’t Only ‘Mirror’ Trader: Russian Central Bank (BBG)
The regulator said in a statement to Bloomberg that it had found about 750 billion rubles ($13.5 billion at average exchange rates over the period) in the transactions from 2014 to 2016, but didn’t break down the figure by individual banks. Deutsche Bank’s internal investigation found about $10 billion in trades through its Moscow office from 2011-2015.

If You Think Stocks Are Dull, Look at the Economy (WSJ)
Over the past three years, the standard deviation of the annualized change in U.S. gross domestic product—how far it has tended to swing each quarter from its underlying trend—is just 1.5 percentage points, or about as low as it has ever been. It is a trend that is being matched elsewhere, with global GDP exhibiting the lowest volatility in history.

$3.7 BILLION HEDGE FUND: This market doesn't make any sense (BI)
"One of today’s greatest market inefficiencies may stem from the scarcity of capital devoted toward long-term, fundamental investing," [Tourbillon Capital's Jason] Karp wrote. "The risk/reward of holding stocks decreases with time horizons, and our work continues to support the fact that fundamentals grow more, rather than less effective as time horizons increase."

A (Long) Chat With Peter Bernstein (Jason Zweig)
In 1703 the mathematician Gottfried von Leibniz told the scientist Jacob Bernoulli that nature does work in patterns, but “only for the most part.” The other part — the unpredictable part — tends to be where things matter the most. That’s where the action often is.

On Blockchain, Intermediaries, and Hype (Zach Korman)
Blockchain attempts to solve a problem that you didn't know you had: the problem of the trusted intermediary. As a programmer, I've never gone on Stack Overflow and asked, "I need to design a system that works like a database but guarantees no one can control it, including myself." I've never seen that question asked, either. And as an individual consumer, I've never thought, "What I don't like about this product/service is that it has a trusted intermediary." These things just don't come up.

Can't Find a Public Bathroom in NYC? Hail This Toilet Van (NBC New York)
Toilet paper company Charmin has been rolling an on-demand mobile bathroom called Charmin Van-GO around Manhattan as part of a two-day pilot program -- though whether the intent is to make the Uber-style bathroom service a regular option, we're not entirely sure.

Related

Looking a little sadder than usual. Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Frankfurt am Main, Skulptur -Bulle & Bär- -- 2015 -- 6763” / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell 8.8.17

Google axes memo bro; Gundlach draws a line in the sand; Swedish banker regrets whipping it out; Driving bear poops in car; And more!

BlueApronIPO

Opening Bell: 6.28.17

Blue Apron shares still priced $10-$11 too high; Scaramucci is now finally officially 100 percent in the Trump administration; poop bandits; and more.

Opening Bell: 03.08.13

Stress Tests Show Banks On The Mend (WSJ) The central bank said 17 of the 18 largest U.S. banks have enough capital to keep lending in a hypothetical sharp economic downturn, a sign the financial system is better prepared to weather a shock without resorting to a large, 2008-style infusion of government support. But the "stress test" figures released Thursday also showed that the Fed is paying special attention to the capital strength of companies with large trading operations, a group that includes Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan. That scrutiny could make it harder for those firms to win regulatory approval to increase dividends and buybacks, and could bruise the companies' recovering reputations with investors. Shares of Goldman and J.P. Morgan have been trading at their highest levels in a year, but both companies dropped more than 1% in after-hours trading following the Fed release. Citi Bests Stress Tests, Discloses Buyback Plan (CNBC) Where stress tests are concerned, call Citigroup "most improved." The bank posted an 8.3 percent tier 1 common capital ratio - the highest of its peers - under the Federal Reserve's annual stress tests. Unemployment Falls To 7.7% (WSJ) U.S. job growth jumped ahead in February, a sign of a steadily improving labor market and stronger economic gains. Employers added 236,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 7.7%, the lowest level since the end of 2008. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast that nonfarm payrolls would rise by 160,000 and the unemployment rate would fall to 7.8%. Chanos Has Ackman's Back On Herbalife Bet (NYP) Famed short seller Jim Chanos yesterday voiced his support for Ackman’s short position — and revealed he made money from shorting the Los Angeles-based company last year. “I think Bill Ackman is correct in his analysis” of Herbalife, Chanos said in a TV interview. “I’m not crazy for this multi-level-marketing business,” Chanos added...Chanos said on CNBC yesterday morning that he had shorted Herbalife last year, when it was around $50 — but got out when the price fell by half after Ackman went public with his short bet. Firms Send Record Cash Back To Investors (WSJ) Companies in the S&P 500 index are expected to pay at least $300 billion in dividends in 2013, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, which would top last year's $282 billion. Goldman Symbol Gets More Elusive (WSJ) Upending a closely watched ritual in place since 1996, the New York securities firm told employees Thursday it now plans to promote a new crop of managing directors every two years, instead of each year. The change will start with the group selected later this year. The coveted title, which comes with a base salary of $500,000, elevates the chosen few at Goldman one step closer to the even higher rank of partner. In the memo, Goldman Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd C. Blankfein and President and Chief Operating Officer Gary D. Cohn said the move would help the firm devote more time to the selection process. "A biennial process will allow us to invest more in the managing director selection process so that it will continue to be a disciplined and rigorous exercise," they wrote. "This will help to ensure that the managing director title remains as aspirational as it should be for our top performers." Hooters Is Chasing Women — as Customers (CNBC) The chain's waitresses are as buxom as ever but its sales have "flattened out," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at research firm Technomic. Revenue peaked in 2007 at nearly $1 billion but had fallen to around $850 million last year, he estimated. (The privately-held company doesn't release sales figures.) The brand recently announced an overhaul aimed at making Hooters more mainstream than man-cave, adding more salads to its menu, remodeling stores and rolling out a series of ads last week to tout the changes. Icahn Bid Rattles Dell Plan (WSJ) Activist investor Carl Icahn said he would push to replace Dell's board and pursue "years of litigation" if the computer maker refused to accept his demand for a refinancing that would pay a hefty dividend to shareholders. Prodding the company to reject a $24.4 billion buyout offer that it agreed to last month and endorse his alternative, Mr. Icahn disclosed he owns a "substantial" stake in Dell and unleashed his trademark attack on directors and on the management-backed offer. "We see no reason that the future value of Dell should not accrue to all the existing Dell shareholders," Mr. Icahn wrote to a Dell special board committee, insisting it agree to his conditions or hold a vote for a replacement board that would. Ferrari $1.3 Million Hybrid Hits Resurgent Luxury Market (Bloomberg) At the Geneva Motor Show this week, Ferrari showed a 1 million-euro ($1.3 million)hybrid called LaFerrari. Bentley exhibited a revamped four-door Continental Flying Spur. Jaguar debuted the XFR-S, its fastest sedan ever. Rolls-Royce is adding a 245,000-euro coupe called the Wraith to its lineup. Companies Expand Offshore Cash Hoard By $183 Billion (Bloomberg) Microsoft, Apple, And Google each added to their non-U.S. holdings by more than 34 percent as they reaped the benefits of past maneuvers to earn and park profits in low- tax countries. Combined, those three companies alone plan to keep $134.5 billion outside the U.S. government’s reach, more than double the $59.3 billion they held two years earlier. Broker who managed money for NFL players bootled from securities industry after big loss (NYP) A Florida broker who managed money for dozens of prominent National Football League players — includingSantana Moss and Plaxico Burress — has been banned from the securities industry after putting the group into a high-risk investment that lost them a total of $40 million. Jeff Rubin, 38, directed some 31 NFL players into an illegal gambling operation in Alabama — which went bust two years later, a Wall Street regulator said yesterday. One of the players, Samari Toure Rolle, a former cornerback with the Baltimore Ravens, lost $3.2 million, the bulk of his liquid assets, to Rubin, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which imposed the ban.

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Opening Bell: 1.27.17

Ackman tries subtlety for a change; hedge funds hit paydirt tracking planes; at least one Burger King has a secret weed menu; and more.

Opening Bell: 11.19.15

All signs point to December rate lift; Ackman down big; AIG; Match; Square; "Klingon Sword Brandished In Trekkie Trash Dispute, Cops Say"; and more.