Opening Bell: 9.25.17

Steve Cohen's new fund charges 2.5 percent; Merkel wins election, loses ground; stock pickers coming in from the cold; maybe the teens are still having sex; and more.
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Steve Cohen just took a big step forward in his comeback with a massive new hedge fund (BI)
Steve Cohen, the billionaire hedge-fund manager briefly banned from the industry after an insider-trading investigation, this week sent investors documents pitching his new fund, Stamford Harbor Capital, a person who has reviewed the deck told Business Insider. Investors will have to agree to steep terms to put their money with the famed investor — including a minimum investment of $100 million and an annual management fee of over 2.5% of those assets.

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Merkel faces complex coalition talks as grip on power weakens (FT)
The SPD, Ms Merkel’s current coalition partner, said bluntly that it wanted to be in opposition to rebuild after a chastening defeat. That leaves the chancellor considering a rare three-way coalition with a pair of smaller parties — the Free Democrats and the Greens — to form a government. Hinting that she would still be open for an alliance with the SPD, she said she would be starting coalition talks in the coming days with all sides. She has already ruled out leading any coalition involving the AfD, the first substantial rightwing populist party in parliament since the Nazis.

The return of the stock picker (FT)
Through June, over half of all US equity mutual funds outperformed their benchmarks, according to the latest SPDJI scorecard. Equity hedge funds are also enjoying a welcome hot streak. On average they have gained 8.6 per cent this year, according to HFR, making this the strongest run in four years. “While passive strategies clearly have had the upper hand from 2009-2016, historically there has been a clear cyclicality in the leadership between the two,” Andrew Folsom, a senior investment analyst at Wells Fargo wrote in a recent report. “We could be in the early stages of an ‘active versus passive’ regime change.”

Hedgie says SEC is ‘very wrong-footed in what they do’ (NYP)
“I told them to go F themselves,” Cooperman said of the SEC’s initial offer, the Post reports. Cooperman, who provides college scholarships to Essex County, NJ, students, said there were better things he could do with the money. “I tell the government, what you guys are costing me, I could send 2,500 kids to college. They didn’t give a damn,” Cooperman said. “They use taxpayer money to fund their peccadillos.”

Funds that exclude LGBT backers miss fundraising goal (FT)
Inspire Investing had expected the “biblically responsible” products aimed at conservative evangelical Christians to attract “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the months since their launch in February. By September 21 they had combined assets of just under $70m. BUT: “Attempt to slam Bible ETF for 'only' getting $70m in 6mo, but that's actually amazing feat for indie, specialty ETF

Nothing Is Too Strange for Cities Wooing Amazon to Build There (NYT)
Business leaders in Tucson, Ariz., have tried to mail Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, a 21-foot cactus. The largest conference room in the Tulsa, Okla., mayor’s office has been converted to a war room, with 50 volunteers poring over videos of Mr. Bezos. In Philadelphia, hundreds of Wharton Business School students have a new fall semester assignment: pitch the city to Amazon. And the mayor of Ottawa flew to Seattle last week to walk as close to Amazon’s headquarters as is publicly accessible.

Eight Things Cryptocurrency Enthusiasts Probably Won’t Tell You (Great Wall of Numbers)
Some entrepreneurs and investors in this space make extraordinary claims without providing extraordinary evidence. Such as, using cryptocurrency networks are cheaper to send money overseas than Western Union. No, it probably is not. But those who make these unfounded, feel-good claims are not held accountable or fact-checked by the market because many market participants are solely interested in the value of coins appreciating. Anything is fair game so as long as prices go up-and-to-the-right, even if it means hiring a troll army or two to influence market sentiment.

Ray Dalio and the Market’s Pulse (WSJ)
Too much capital is often a burden. There are only so many good investment ideas out there, and it’s late in this cycle. Mr. Dalio’s principles are unique but probably not applicable to many other businesses. As he says: “Truth—more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality—is the essential foundation for any good outcomes.” Here’s a truth: If Bridgewater has lost its mojo, Mr. Dalio would be smart to manage a much smaller pot of money rather than torture his employees.

U.S. Households Are Loaded Up With Stocks (Dana Lyons)
There are no doubt many investors who are still wary of returning to the stock market due to the two cyclical bear markets in the past dozen years. However, while there may be a certain level of investor mistrust, the moniker of “most hated bull market of all-time” does not seem appropriate. It should not be lost on investors that we are at the second highest level of stock investment ever, behind only the most speculative stock blowoff in U.S. history.

Don’t buy the idea teens are having less sex until you take a closer look at the data (Qz)
It’s true because the question the CDC asks is “Have you ever had sexual intercourse?” This is (basically) the same question that Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and women’s studies, told me she posed to a group of young women at a private high school recently, while giving a talk about the impact of porn on sexual health. Dines asked them “Have you ever had sex?” The response in the majority was, “No.” Dines, however, followed up with another question: “I asked them, ‘So what do you do at parties then?’ and the answer was,‘Oh! …Blowjobs.’”

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Opening Bell: 5.30.17

Steve Cohen found a nice big round number to aim for; Barney Frank says “all numbers are arbitrary”; there's now a Pissing Pug next to the Fearless Girl; and more.

By Sadie Hernandez [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 8.17.16

Brevan Howard, Tudor hit hard; Steve Cohen settles with CFTC; Pokémon Go players hit with a laser attack by pig-masked couple having public sex in Sweden; and more.

Opening Bell: 11.30.12

Germany Approves Greek Aid (WSJ) German parliamentarians approved with an overwhelming majority a package of new aid measures for Greece Friday, clinching support for a plan to close a €14 billion ($18.17 billion) gap in the heavily indebted nation's finances and to ready a near €44 billion tranche of promised aid. The vote shows that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been able to consolidate the support of her center-right coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats, many of whom have expressed skepticism that Greece can be saved without significant costs to German taxpayers. Her coalition voted 90% in favor of the measures. Leave "fairy world" behind, Draghi tells euro zone (Reuters) "We have not yet emerged from the crisis," Draghi told Europe 1 radio. "The recovery for most of the euro zone will certainly begin in the second half of 2013." "The crisis has shown that we were living in a fairy world," the ECB chief later added at a conference with top financial officials, pointing to the unsustainable debts, weak banks and poor policy coordination that gave birth to the crisis three years ago. Obama Takes ‘Fiscal Cliff’ on the Road; Republicans Stew (CNBC) President Barack Obama, reapplying his re-election campaign theme of protecting the middle class, heads to Pennsylvania on Friday suggesting that Republicans could spoil Christmas by driving the country over the "fiscal cliff." The president's road trip, visiting a factory that makes Hasbro's [HAS 38.60 --- UNCH] Tinkertoys, is infuriating Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner called it a "victory lap" as he rejected Obama's proposals to avoid the cliff, the combination of tax increases and spending cuts set to start taking effect in January. Berkshire Hathaway, CaixaBank Agree to Reinsurance Deal (WSJ) Berkshire Hathaway will pay CaixaBank SA million €600 million ($778.7 million) for the future cash flow from a portfolio of life insurance policies, the Barcelona-based bank said Friday, a rare dip into a fiscally stressed euro-zone country for the investment firm run by Warren Buffett. If You Like Late Nights, Try Being an Analyst in Hungary (WSJ) As the clock ticked toward midnight on a recent night, stock analyst Gergely Gabler sat sleepily in his pajamas at the small desk in his bedroom, waiting. Then, just after 12, he sprang into action, evaluating the newly released earnings report of Hungary's largest bank. For the next two hours, Mr. Gabler worked on a report about OTP Bank's performance for clients of his firm, Hungarian brokerage Equilor Investments, before catching some shut eye, only to awake about 3½ hours later so he could be in his office to field questions by 7 a.m. Burning the midnight oil is a painful quarterly tradition for analysts and financial journalists in Hungary, where the country's biggest blue-chip companies publish their results in the wee hours, after markets in New York have closed and long before they open anywhere in Europe. "I'm a night owl, so I don't mind staying up," Mr. Gabler said. The hard part, the 28-year-old said, is getting out of bed the next day. That morning, he grabbed a red-and-black can of Hell, a caffeine-laden Hungarian energy drink, to fuel his workday. Moody's Puts Aston Martin on Watch for Downgrade (NYT) “The review was prompted by a significant deterioration in Aston Martin’s liquidity profile as per end September 2012, caused by a much weaker cash generation and operating performance in the third quarter than anticipated by the company and compared to Moody’s expectations,” Falk Frey, a Moody’s analyst, said in a statement. Harvard Approves BDSM Group (Crimson) It started last October with a meal in Currier dining hall with a handful of friends who shared something in common: an affinity for kinky sex. More than a year after the group first began informally meeting over meals to discuss issues and topics relating to kinky sex, Harvard College Munch has grown from seven to about 30 members and is one of 15 student organization that will be approved by the Committee on Student Life this Friday. Michael, who was granted anonymity by The Crimson to protect his privacy, is the founder of Munch, an informal lunch or dinner meeting for people across the kink community. For him, the recognition will provide a sense of ease for current and future members, knowing they are receiving institutional support. “It’s a little hyperbolic for me to get teary-eyed and paternal about sophomores, but it’s really a joy to see the experience they will have now,” Michael said. Michael said there are many benefits to being officially recognized on campus such as being able to poster for events and promote Munch’s presence...But for Michael, the biggest advantage to being recognized comes with “the fact of legitimacy,” he said. “[Our recognition] shows we are being taken seriously.” Mae, a member of the organization who asked to be identified by her middle name, said since its formation the group has provided her with a comfortable space to discuss her interests. “I didn’t think that anyone was even remotely interested [in kink] on campus,” Mae said. “It’s a community where you can feel safe, and you can feel comfortable talking about [kink].” Cohen's Damage Control (NYP) Beleaguered hedge fund honcho Steve Cohen held a conference call yesterday for his roughly 1,000 employees to explain potential civil charges against his firm, SAC Capital Advisors. The call with SAC’s employees went over similar talking points as the call with investors the previous day, according to a person familiar with the call. In the latest call, officials notified employees that last week, the $14 billion Stamford, Conn., hedge fund received a Wells Notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission tied to trading by a former portfolio manager who was arrested Nov. 20 on insider trading charges. McDonald’s Starved for Ideas as Burger King Lures Diners (Bloomberg) Burger King has been excelling at a game McDonald’s worked to perfect years ago, introducing a steady stream of new menu items, such as snack wraps and gingerbread sundaes for the holidays. McDonald’s has “not had anything to talk about of substance,” Michael Kelter, a New York-based analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in an interview. “People are going elsewhere.” Hong Kong IPOs Generate Little Excitement (WSJ) Hong Kong appears unlikely to regain its position as the world's top venue for initial public offerings anytime soon. In recent days, the city's biggest IPO in two years drew only lukewarm support, while another deal ran up against insufficient demand and a third was postponed. Recession Left Baby Bust as U.S. Births Lowest Since 1920 (Bloomberg) The country’s birth rate fell 8 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to a Pew Research Center report. The rate dropped 6 percent for U.S.-born women and plummeted 14 percent for foreign-born females since 2007, the onset of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The decline continued last year to the lowest point since records began in 1920. Rogue caviar fugitive Mario Garbarino admits his guilt in fishy egg smuggling scheme (NYDN) Isidoro (Mario) Garbarino, 69, who went on the lam 23 years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to smuggling $10 million worth of Russian and Iranian savruga and beluga to New York more than two decades ago. Garbarino’s plea deal requires him to pay $3 million in restitution. He also faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced in January. Garbarino, a supplier to fancy gourmet shops including Zabar's, was indicted in 1987 for cheating the government on import duties. Feds say his Bronx company, Aquamar Gourmet Imports, engaged in an elaborate scheme to smuggle more than 100,000 pounds of the expensive delicacy from 1984 to 1987. As part of the plot, Garbarino switched the high-quality caviar with much cheaper American caviar which he then sold to Pan Am, other airlines and cruise ships operators as the real thing. In 1989, Garbarino fled. He was nabbed two months ago in Panama and extradited to New York. "Isidoro Garbarino ran his high-end importation business in a low-end way — cheating the government out of millions of dollars in tax revenues and defrauding his international clients who paid top dollar for exotic caviar they did not receive," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara...Garbarino admitted he “occasionally misrepresented the nature of the caviar” to avoid paying the required taxes.

Opening Bell: 10.23.15

Steve Cohen is having the best week ever; Jeff Bezos is rich; "Mr. Left issues reports laced with profanity, vivid anatomical descriptions and taunts directed at corporate executives"; and more.

By Michael Vadon [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 9.27.16

Deutsche Bank haunts Merkel; Citi warns on gold/Trump; Perry Capital will shutter funds; Woman tells story of walking in on burglars having sex on her couch; and more.

Trump.Paulson

Opening Bell: 11.4.16

Pensions spring for sex shops and sewage; election triggers Wall Street bros; Paulson's hedge fund reeling on pharma bets; RedtTube's election prediction; and more.

Opening Bell: 3.31.15

Steve Cohen starts tech VC unit; Amish bank is killing it; PIMCO loses popularity contest; "Woman Stabbed Boyfriend In Groin For Eating All Her Salsa"; and more.