Opening Bell: 9.28.17

Hugh Hefner headed to that playboy mansion in the sky; guy accused of stealing secrets from Google for Uber started an AI-based religion; Lyft nears IPO; killer clown mystery solved; and more.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dead at 91 (CNN)
Hugh Hefner -- the silk-robed Casanova whose Playboy men's magazine popularized the term "centerfold," glamorized an urbane bachelor lifestyle and helped spur the sexual revolution of the 1960s -- has died, his company said late Wednesday. He was 91.

Bitcoin blow as fund drops U.S. exchange application (Reuters)
Grayscale Investments LLC said the NYSE Arca exchange withdrew a request with the SEC to list its Bitcoin Investment Trust, in the latest setback to the digital currency. “Although digital currency market regulation continues to rapidly evolve, at this time Grayscale does not believe there have been enough regulatory developments to prompt the SEC to approve the ... application,” the fund’s issuers said in a statement. They said they would continue their dialogue with regulators, but could not predict when they may get approved.

Lyft close to selecting IPO adviser - sources (Reuters)
Lyft’s IPO preparations come as its larger competitor, Uber Technologies Inc, is attempting to recover from a range of scandals. In August, Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi set a new tentative timeline for Uber’s IPO of between 18 and 36 months.

God Is A Bot, And Anthony Levandowski Is His Messenger (Wired)
Many people in Silicon Valley believe in the Singularity—the day in our near future when computers will surpass humans in intelligence and kick off a feedback loop of unfathomable change. When that day comes, Anthony Levandowski will be firmly on the side of the machines. In September 2015, the multi-millionaire engineer at the heart of the patent and trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company, founded a religious organization called Way of the Future. Its purpose, according to previously unreported state filings, is nothing less than to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.”

Should the Middle Class Invest in Risky Tech Start-Ups? (NYT)
Calacanis genuinely believes that investing in start-ups is good advice; he has even offered his three children a chance to skip college and to use the tuition money on betting on start-ups. His 7-year-old daughter, he said, is leaning toward taking the deal. But like other recent populist movements, Calacanis’s isn’t without its apparent grifts. Calacanis runs a “syndicate,” a kind of investing club in which people co-invest their money alongside his bets. The book, he says, led to a surge in new investors on his syndicate — and if those investments pay off, Calacanis gets a 20 percent cut of his co-investors’ returns. “Of course, I plan to make a great deal of money in these revolutions,” he writes.

Stock Investors Wrestle With Growing Debt (Businessweek)
The real problem of higher debt levels for investors is not that it will lead to a wave of Toys "R" Us-like bankruptcies but that it drains the cash that companies have to do the other things that boost their stock prices, earnings and by extension the economy over the long haul. Already, stock buybacks have been slipping lately, as are capital expenditures, which never really recovered after the financial crisis. Debt might not sink the stock market, but it certainly adds to the growing list of things that are sapping what has provided a lift for the last few years.

When Warren Buffett Runs Your Pension Plan (Businessweek)
Buffett can play the pension game differently in part because Berkshire has tens of billions of dollars in cash. Were Weschler or Combs to lose a lot of money earmarked for retirees, the company should be able to plug the hole. Buffett’s reputation as an investor also helps—few pensioners are likely to question whether he and his team know what they’re doing. “Many people have tried and failed” to copy him, Mitchell says. “If a different corporation asked me, ‘Should I try to replicate Warren Buffett’s approach,’ my answer would be, ‘That’s pretty risky.’ ”

The siren call of T+0, or real-time settlement (Moneyness)
The advantage of delayed settlement is that quid pro quo is achieved with one set of transactions conducted at the end of the 10-game cycle rather than a set of transaction for each game. No more tedious counting out coins each day, or daily bitcoin fees. Because the obligation to carry around cash is kept to a minimum, interest income needn't be sacrificed by players. Nor are there any nuisances of storing cash.

A Woman Allegedly Committed A Murder Dressed As A Clown, Then Married The Victim's Husband (BuzzFeed)
On May 26, 1990, Marlene Warren answered a knock on the door at her home in Palm Beach County, Florida. At the door, a person wearing a clown costume handed her a basket of carnations and two balloons, one of which was emblazoned with the words "You're the Greatest." The clown then pulled out a revolver and shot Warren in the face, before calmly walking to a getaway car and driving away. Warren died two days later in hospital. For more than 27 years, no arrests were made — until Tuesday, when police detained 54-year-old Sheila Keen-Warren on charges of first-degree murder. The shared last name is no coincidence; Sheila Keen-Warren married Marlene Warren's husband in 2002.

Related

Opening Bell: 12.10.12

U.S. authorities probe SAC for Weight Watchers (Reuters) U.S. authorities are investigating Steven A. Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors hedge fund for possible insider trading in the shares of the popular diet company Weight Watchers International Inc, according to people familiar with the matter. The investigation focuses on trading in Weight Watchers shares in the first half of 2011, when SAC Capital had taken a sizeable position in the stock, and potentially could implicate the billionaire hedge fund manager, the sources said on Friday. Regulatory filings show that Cohen's $14 billion fund briefly held 2.1 million shares in Weight Watchers during the period under scrutiny by authorities - at which time the diet company's stock price roughly doubled. The inquiry is in its early stages and it is not clear whether anything improper was done either by SAC Capital or Cohen himself, said the people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity. The trading in Weight Watchers would be permissible as long as it was based on fundamental research or derived from individuals who did not have access to non-public corporate information. Big Money Bets On Housing Rebound (NYT) A flurry of private-equity giants and hedge funds have spent billions of dollars to buy thousands of foreclosed single-family homes. They are purchasing them on the cheap through bank auctions, multiple listing services, short sales and bulk purchases from local investors in need of cash, with plans to fix up the properties, rent them out and watch their values soar as the industry rebounds. They have raised as much as $8 billion to invest, according to Jade Rahmani, an analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods. The Blackstone Group, the New York private-equity firm run by Stephen A. Schwarzman, has spent more than $1 billion to buy 6,500 single-family homes so far this year. The Colony Capital Group, headed by the Los Angeles billionaire Thomas J. Barrack Jr., has bought 4,000. Wall Street workers expecting worst bonus season since 2008 (NYP) State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli estimates that the average bonus this year will be $101,000 — a 16.5 percent decline from last year and almost a 50 percent decline since 2006, when the average was $191,360. ‘‘I don’t think this year’s bonuses are going to be very good,’’ said Dan Shaffer, CEO of Shaffer Asset Management. ‘‘I don’t believe the typical bonuses, as we used to know them, exist anymore.’’ Obama Meets with Boehner Privately at White House (Bloomberg) The meeting was the first known face-to-face conversation between the two leaders since Nov. 16, when Boehner and other congressional leaders sat down with Obama at the White House. They have talked on the telephone since then. Obama met with Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic minority leader, on Dec. 7. Investors offer about $38.8 billion in Greek debt buyback (Reuters) Greece is set to purchase back about half of its debt owned by private investors, broadly succeeding in a bond buyback that is key to the country's international bailout, a Greek government official said on Saturday. Hefner Husband Takes Insider Trading Into Playboy Bedroom (Bloomberg) Christie Hefner, [daughter of Hugh and] former chief executive officer of Playboy Enterprises Inc., said she was shocked as her husband of 15 years, William Marovitz, confessed to her that he was being investigated for suspicious trading in Playboy shares. They were in their apartment atop a 42-story Lincoln Park tower overlooking the glittering Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan on a March evening in 2010. “He told me he had been contacted by the SEC,” Hefner said later in testimony before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which didn’t accuse her of any wrongdoing. “And when did you learn your husband owned shares of Playboy?” she was asked. “In that conversation,” she replied. Hefner's husband is just one of more than 400 persons the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice have accused of insider trading in a crackdown in the last five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. All involved betrayal -- of clients, employers, relatives or friends. The Hefner episode and a handful of cases like it include an especially cruel breach of trust: betrayal of a wife by a husband. Tennis star Novak buys up world's supply of donkey cheese at £400 a pound for new restaurant chain (DM) The cheese, known as pule, will be one of the key attractions at a chain of restaurants the Wimbledon champion and world number one is opening in his Serbian homeland...The Zasavica farm, which lies 50 miles west of the Serbian capital Belgrade, boasts a herd of 130 and is said to be the only place in the world where donkeys are milked for cheese. Banking Industry Squirms Over European Rate Probe (WSJ) The scandal over banks' attempted manipulation of interest rates has mostly centered on the London interbank offered rate. But Libor's lesser known cousin, the euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, is facing mounting attacks. The European Union is expected soon to accuse multiple banks of attempted collusion in the setting of Euribor, according to people briefed on the probe. Barclays has already acknowledged trying to rig the rate, and other banks are likely to be pressed by regulators in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere into similar admissions, according to industry and regulatory officials. Mortgage Crisis Presents a New Reckoning to Banks (NYT) Regulators, prosecutors, investors and insurers have filed dozens of new claims against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and others, related to more than $1 trillion worth of securities backed by residential mortgages. Estimates of potential costs from these cases vary widely, but some in the banking industry fear they could reach $300 billion if the institutions lose all of the litigation. Depending on the final price tag, the costs could lower profits and slow the economic recovery by weakening the banks’ ability to lend just as the housing market is showing signs of life. Crisis Measure Nears End (WSJ) Barring action by Congress, the FDIC on Dec. 31 will stop providing an unlimited guarantee on zero-interest bank accounts used by businesses and municipalities for payroll and other services. The guarantee would then revert to the normal $250,000 in insurance per depositor at any given bank. If the guarantee isn't extended, FBR Capital Markets estimates as much as $250 billion in deposits could flow out of smaller banks to large banks or big money-market mutual funds. Stylish primate charms Toronto shoppers (The Star) A North York Ikea store attracted an unusual customer Sunday afternoon, when a tiny monkey dressed in a fitted faux shearling coat and diapers appeared in the store’s upper parking garage around 2 p.m. “It was just running around screaming,” said shopper Bronwyn Page...“It was really cute,” said Lisa Lin, another shopper. “It was smaller than a cat.” But if the monkey had hoped to stock up on Billy bookcases or Swedish meatballs, its plans were thwarted. The diminutive shopper never made it into the store, said manager Alvaro Carmona. No one was hurt in the incident, which lasted no more than half an hour, he added. Animal Services identified the monkey as a rhesus macaque, an Asian species that is prohibited in Ontario. The monkeys are known for their ability to live in diverse habitats – although Canadian winters obviously require a warm coat. The owner of the primate turned himself in to Animal Services just after 5 p.m. He was charged with owning a prohibited animal, an offence that carries a $200 fine. The seven-month-old monkey has somehow managed to escape his owner’s car in the Ikea parking lot, said animal control officer David Behan.

(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 5.5.17

The mysterious "50 Cent" trader has been unmasked; Doug Cifu wants to make HFT boring again; birds have learned to use heroin needles in nests; and more.

Photo: Getty Images.

Opening Bell: 2.14.17

Credit Suisse piles on more job cuts; Morgan Stanley goes all-in on China; Playboy prints nudes again; and more.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 8.59.00 AM

Opening Bell: 9.26.18

Dot day!; Trump tantruming over his wall; JPM gets Lyft IPO; iPhone tombstones; and more!

By Василий Красюк (http://www.herbalife.ru) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 8.29.16

Short-seller says Herbalife may have misled investors, SEC; Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley reinvent themselves; IPO market poised for a rebound; Cop accidentally filmed himself stealing marijuana; and more.

Source: AP

Opening Bell: 5.1.17

Warren Buffett's cash is burning a hole in his pocket; company wellness programs target sales; a mysterious cat-shaver in Virginia; and more.

By Kobe_Bryant_7144.jpg: Sgt. Joseph A. Leederivative work: JoeJohnson2 (Kobe_Bryant_7144.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 8.22.16

Banks race to meet $493 trillion swaps rules; Kobe Bryant unveils venture capital firm; Uber tells investors Lyft sucks; Anthony Weiner thinks The Post is trying to ‘catfish’ him; and more.

Trump.BurningMoney

Opening Bell: 11.7.16

Wall Street bonuses set to sink again; trading profits are mysteriously on the mend; Ted Nugent went TMI on his anatomy; and much more.