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Opening Bell: 8.25.17

Gary Cohn talks tax reform, Nazis; millennial quants want to drink your milkshake; Estonia wants to launch a sovereign bitcoin; the world champion in Excel; and more.

Transcript: Gary Cohn on tax reform and Charlottesville (FT)
“I have come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position. As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post as director of the National Economic Council because I feel a duty to fulfil my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks. Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK. I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities. As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting “Jews will not replace us” to cause this Jew to leave his job.”

GaryCohnHamlet

SoftBank’s $100bn Vision Fund needs Wall St trader to come good (FT)
Rajeev Misra liked to puff cigars at Deutsche Bank. Subordinates would have to remove smoke detectors from the ceilings. In these heady days before the financial crisis, Mr Misra, as head of fixed income, recruited traders such as Greg Lippmann, later played by Ryan Gosling in The Big Short. They made gigantic bets. Losses of $100m piled up in one book in 2006, enough for those responsible to be fired at any other institution, but they were kept around and made much bigger profits. Today Mr Misra, 55, is leading a very different enterprise with a similar disregard for norms.

Younger, Cheaper, Smaller, Smarter: Meet the New Breed of Quants (II)
A growing number of entrepreneurs schooled in AI see a model ripe for disruption. After all, they have no legacy business to protect. Experts anticipate that these entrepreneurs, armed with computers taught to do the work of expensive and moody humans, will first make inroads with a lower-cost product covering the most efficient parts of the market. Large-cap equities managers, watch out.

Jackson Hole Dark Side Stab (Macro Tourist)
If there was to be a surprise at today’s Jackson Hole symposium, I doubt it would be that either Draghi or Yellen tries to get out ahead of this dovishness by signaling even easier policy. No, a surprise will most likely look like a Central Bank chief that attempts to put policy back on the previous tighter path. Most likely they will both duck and try to not disrupt the markets. But there is a better chance than the market is anticipating that one of them (or maybe both of them) surprises with a hawkish statement. SEE ALSO: Jackson Hole Bingo

Rapper Cancels Shows After Saying He Didn’t Need Eclipse Glasses (HuffPo)
“Am I crazy for watching the eclipse today [with] no glasses?” Joey Bada$$ tweeted on Monday. “I’ve sungazed before and afterwards saw colors for a whole day. I didn’t die tho (sic).” He went on to argue, “This ain’t the first solar eclipse and I’m pretty sure our ancestors ain’t have no fancy eyewear. Also pretty sure they ain’t all go blind.” Fast forward to Tuesday, and the hip-hop artist announced the cancellations of shows in Cleveland, Chicago and Toronto “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

The Bitcoin Sovereign Wealth Fund (Gadfly)
A proposal by Estonia's agency in charge of "e-residency" applications (more on this later) has suggested raising money by selling "estcoins" to the public.The wealth could then be managed via a public-private partnership; a chunk might be poured into venture capital to support domestic start-ups. Holders of estcoins would have a stake in the fund and a say in how it is run. The tokens might then become a viable currency, so the thinking goes, paying for goods and services in a euro-zone country.

Valeant’s Latest Litigation Threat Could Be Especially Costly (BBG)
By invoking the RICO law in New Jersey, the location of Valeant’s U.S. headquarters, Lord Abbett could seek a penalty three times as large as the losses it allegedly sustained from the decline in Valeant’s share price. Federal securities laws don’t allow investors to invoke national RICO laws in comparable shareholder suits.

Two Bankers Indicted in Libor-Manipulation Case (WSJ)
The U.S. Justice Department accused Danielle Sindzingre and Muriel Bescond of instructing their subordinates to submit inaccurately low figures that were then used to calculate Libor, according to Thursday’s indictment in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. The actions, which are alleged to have happened between May 2010 and October 2011, caused more than $170 million in harm to global financial markets because the false information affected transactions tied to Libor, according to the indictment.

Vanguard Group is America's new landlord (Philly.com)
Securities and Exchange Commission reports compiled by Bloomberg show that the company’s mutual funds and exchange-traded funds are now the leading owners of real estate investment trusts (REITs), the tax-protected investor funds that own many of the nation’s offices, shopping centers, apartments, hotels, warehouses, and data and storage centers.

There’s a world championship for Excel spreadsheets (AP)
Dumoulin was a bit taken aback when he saw how seriously the international competitors approached the tournament. No American has won the Excel competition in 16 years, though they have won on other Microsoft Office products including Word and PowerPoint. “Some of the foreign countries, they’ve been training for hours and hours and hours on end,” he said. “When you first meet the international students, everyone’s friendly, but when they find out you’re competing against them in the same category, they get this fire in their eyes.”

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