Opening Bell: 12.14.17

Disney gobbles up Fox; Bill Ackman is going to make a comeback...eventually...just you wait; Wilbur Ross slipped his security detail in the Hamptons; square dancing is actually racist?; and more.
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Disney to buy 21st Century Fox assets in a deal worth more than $52 billion in stock (CNBC)
Disney's Fox acquisition bolsters its plans to become a dominant streaming service platform, making it a bigger threat to Netflix. "The more desirable content they have, the better they will be able to compete in terms of trying to sell a subscription offering at a time there's so much competition for subscription-based services," said eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna. ALSO: Disney-Fox combination would change power balance in Hollywood

BobIger.Wolverine

The Fed Isn’t the Tax Cut’s Enemy (WSJ)
Fed officials, in the projections released yesterday and in Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s remarks, suggest they aren’t standing in the way of any boost that the tax cut delivers. Indeed, it may not be entirely unwelcome. The reasons are twofold. One is that inflation is still too low, and that completely changes the equation: It suggests overheating is to be welcomed, not resisted. The other is that officials are open to the possibility that the tax cut will raise the economy’s potential growth rate, which means faster growth wouldn’t necessarily lead to more inflation.

What’s Eating Bill Ackman? (II)
Whether it’s ADP, Herbalife, or Valeant, Ackman lives by the unconventional move — and regardless of the recent losses, his personality is one thing that isn’t likely to change. “It’s hard to make a lot of money if you’re doing what everyone else is doing,” he says, shrugging.

These Guys Want to Lend You Money Against Your Bitcoin (BBG)
One problem is that bitcoin’s price swings violently, which can make it dangerous for lenders to hold. That means the terms can be steep. Someone looking to tap $100,000 in cash would probably need to put up $200,000 of bitcoin as collateral, and pay 12 percent to 20 percent in interest a year, according to David Lechner, the chief financial officer at Salt, which has arranged dozens of loans.

Will Exchange-Traded Funds Make a Difference to Nonprofits? (Nonprofit Quarterly)
The Impact Shares YWCA Women’s Empowerment ETF [exchange-traded fund], launching in the first quarter of 2018, only contains the shares of companies with high grades on women’s issues.… The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is also launching an ETF that empowers people of color through hiring, remuneration, and promotion policies. Others, like Oxfam and Habitat for Humanity, are considering launching funds of their own.

Tycoons battle over kids’ $37K-a-month child support payments (NYP)
A California investor on Tuesday lost a bid to lower support payments to his ex-wife after she claimed she needed $37,500 a month to pay rent to her new billionaire hubby for her teenage kids. “I have and always will pay for all my children’s needs in excess, I just don’t feel it’s right for me to pay for half of Mr. Salzman’s mansion,” the investor, [Tesla short] Andrew Left, told The Post. Andrea Left last month married Alan Salzman, an early investor in Tesla who pocketed roughly $2.3 billion when the electric carmaker went public in 2010.

America’s wholesome square dancing tradition is a tool of white supremacy (Qz)
By bringing back square dancing, as well as other primarily Anglo-Saxon dances like waltzes and quadrilles, [Henry] Ford believed he would be able to counteract what he saw as the unwholesome influence of jazz on America. People, he imagined, would leave the dance halls and cabarets in droves to swing their partners round and round at liquor-free square dance clubs. If jazz was the cause of America’s moral decay, he reasoned, the road to repair it could be as simple as replacing it with fiddles and square dances.

The Alabama Senate Election Was Decided 100 Million Years Ago (Wired)
In the Cretaceous Period, much of this part of the country was underwater. As the sea creatures in the water died off, they left behind massive chalk formations, which eventually made for rich soil. The fertile soil created by those rock formations drew white plantation owners to this part of the South, and with them, millions of slaves. The soil created agriculture, which created an economy of cotton, despicably built on the backs of slaves; it's just that economy ended hundreds of years ago. "The present day [voting pattern] is a relic of that settlement pattern," Dutch says.

Security detail loses Wilbur Ross in Hamptons takeout joint (PageSix)
“His security people lost him in the Hamptons,” an area regular told Page Six of Ross. “They went into the Golden Pear in Southampton and said, ‘Has anyone seen him?’ ” The source added, “They said they had lost him and asked anyone who spotted him to call them. They gave out cards that said ‘Commerce Department security’ — and told the owner, ‘If you see him, will you call us immediately?’” Rumors even spread that the agents “were combing Southampton on Friday looking for Wilbur Ross.” The same source said, “He was found later that day, but they were in a panic.”

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Photo: Getty Images

Opening Bell: 6.21.16

Ackman releases first video in a series (!!) of videos about Herbalife; Wilbur Ross tells Brits to wake the bloody heck up; Memphis police searching for woman who stole stripper pole; and more.

(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 1.26.17

Dutch regulator accidentally reveals Soros' shorts; Wilbur Ross is an emotionless business machine; a sex line for Afghan youths; and more.

By Maggie Hoffman (Tomato Soup Grilled Cheese) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 8.5.16

Wilbur Ross expects Donald Trump to start acting normal; Goldman warns on Brexit effects; Georgia man busted after raging at wife over too cheesy grilled cheese sandwich; and more.

Goldman_Sachs-china

Opening Bell: 11.6.17

Goldman goes east; Saudi prince's arrest impacts Citi, Twitter investments; Wilbur Ross has a Putin problem; William Dudley to retire; and more.

Coming soon to a Bridgewater office near you.

Opening Bell: 11.7.17

Ray Dalio's number-two is reportedly kinda handsy; Forbes says Wilbur Ross lied to them about being a billionaire for years; Dick Fuld is back, baby; Bjork wants to give you cryptocurrency; and more.

Opening Bell: 11.13.12

Wall Street Damps Pay Expectations After 2011 Bonus Shock (Bloomberg) Almost 20 percent of employees won’t get year-end bonuses, according to Options Group, an executive-search company that advises banks on pay. Those collecting awards may see payouts unchanged from last year or boosted by as much as 10 percent, compensation consultant Johnson Associates Inc. estimates. Decisions are being made as banks cut costs and firms including UBS AG (UBSN) and Nomura Holdings Inc. (8604) fire investment-bank staff. Some employees were surprised as companies chopped average 2011 bonuses by as much as 30 percent and capped how much could be paid in cash. That experience, along with public statements from top executives, low trading volumes in the first half and a dearth of hiring has employees bracing for another lackluster year, consultants and recruiters said. “A lot of senior managers won’t have to pay up because they’re saying, ‘Where are these guys going to go?’” said Michael Karp, chief executive officer of New York-based Options Group. “We’re in an environment where a lot of people are just happy to have a job. Expectations have been managed so low that people will be happy with what they get.” Goldman Pares Back Partner Picks (WSJ) The New York company is expected to announce this week the promotion of about 70 employees to partner, said people familiar with the situation. The likely total is roughly one-third smaller than the 110 employees named partner by Goldman in 2010...As of Monday, the Goldman partnership committee hadn't finished the list of new partners, said people familiar with the matter. Greece Avoids Defaults (WSJ) Cash-strapped Greece on Tuesday raised the money it needs to avoid default when a Treasury bill matures later this week, but investor nerves are unlikely to be calmed as negotiations for the next slice of much-needed aid continue. The rift among Greece's official lenders over how to pare the country's growing debt pile spilled into the open late Monday, complicating efforts for an agreement that will free up a long-delayed aid payment to the country. The European Central Bank's reluctance to provide additional money to Greek banks poses a risk to the government, which in order to keep afloat has depended on support from local banks to sell its debt. Greece Needs Another 80 Billion Euros: Goldman Sachs (CNBC) The authors of the report, economists Themistoklis Fiotakis, Lasse Holboell Nielsen and Antoine Demongeot, note that the IMF’s target is “unlikely” without such a “drastic debt stock reduction.” “To increase the likelihood that the Greek debt-to-GDP ratio approaches its 120 percent by 2020 target under realistic assumptions, a much more drastic debt stock reduction (possibly north of 80 billion euros in total) will be required,” the report states. Japan Lawmakers Agree To Avert 'Fiscal Cliff' (Reuters) Japan's ruling and opposition parties agreed on Tuesday to quickly pass a deficit funding bill in parliament, in a move that will keep the country from falling off its version of a 'fiscal cliff' as the prime minister eyes elections as early as next month. The bill is needed to borrow some $480 billion and fund roughly 40 percent of this fiscal year's budget. Without it, the government could run out of money by the end of this month and would have to stop debt auctions next month, just as the economy teeters on the brink of a recession. Marc Faber: Prepare For A Massive Market Meltdown (CNBC) “I don’t think markets are going down because of Greece, I don’t think markets are going down because of the “fiscal cliff” – because there won’t be a “fiscal cliff,” Faber told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “The market is going down because corporate profits will begin to disappoint, the global economy will hardly grow next year or even contract, and that is the reason why stocks, from the highs of September of 1,470 on the S&P, will drop at least 20 percent, in my view.” FBI Agent in Petraeus Case Under Scrutiny (WSJ) A federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors' concerns that he was personally involved in the case, according to officials familiar with the probe. After being blocked from the case, the agent continued to press the matter, relaying his concerns to a member of Congress, the officials said. New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus's personal life, the agency had to address conduct by its own agent—who allegedly sent shirtless photos of himself to a woman involved in the case prior to the investigation. Trial to Open in $68 Million Insider Trading Case (Dealbook) On Tuesday, Mr. Chiasson, 39, a co-founder of the now-defunct Level Global Investors, and Mr. Newman, 47, a former portfolio manager at Diamondback Capital Management, are set to stand trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Prosecutors say they were part of a conspiracy that made about $68 million illegally trading the computer company Dell and the chip maker Nvidia. MF Report Coming (Reuters) A US House of Representatives panel will release a long-awaited report that will dissect the collapse of failed commodities brokerage MF Global. The House Financial Services Committee said its Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will post the report online Thursday. A Dose of Realism for the Chief of J.C. Penney (NYT) Andrew Ross Sorkin: "You should know you have a problem when sales at your stores fall 26.1 percent in one quarter. That was the surprising decline J.C. Penney reported last week, when it disclosed that it had lost $123 million in the previous three months...Here's the good news: In the stores that have been transformed, J.C. Penney is making $269 in sales a square foot, versus $134 in sales a square foot in the older stores. So the model itself is working. And Mr. Johnson has the support of the company's largest shareholder, Pershing Square's Bill Ackman, who personally recruited Mr. Johnson. If Mr. Johnson were starting with a blank slate, it might be a great business." China Banker Sees Lower Bar for Yuan Globalization (WSJ) "Renminbi internationalization can be realized based on a partial opening of the capital-account and partial convertibility of the currency," said Mr. Li, a delegate to the 18th Communist Party Congress and longtime advocate of a greater global role for the yuan. The Eximbank is a major arm of the Chinese government for financing trade and investment overseas. Finally, a Place in Brazil Where Dogs Can Go for Discreet Sex (NYT) Heart-shaped ceiling mirror: check. Curtains drawn against the bright day: check. Red mattress: check. The establishment that opened here this year has features that demanding clients naturally expect from a love motel. Brazil, after all, is a world leader in these short-stay pleasure palaces, which beckon couples for trysts away from prying eyes with names like Swing, Absinthe and Alibi, and design motifs like medieval castles or of the American Wild West. But Belo Horizonte’s newest love motel stands apart from the crowd in one crucial aspect. It is for dogs. “I adore the romantic feel of this place,” said Andreia Kfoury, 43, a manager at a technology company who peeked inside the Motel Pet one recent morning while she and her husband were on a clothes-buying spree for their Yorkshire terrier, Harley. The couple, who are motorcycle enthusiasts, bought about $500 worth of imported Harley-Davidson brand items for their dog. “I’m definitely bringing Harley back here when it’s time for him to breed,” a smiling Ms. Kfoury said. “He is very macho, and would be a hit in this place.” Whether dogs like Harley actually need a romantic curtained-off suite to breed seems beside the point. Some dog owners simply like the concept of a love motel for their amorous pets and are willing to pay about $50 for each session, which Animalle will happily arrange.

Opening Bell: 03.21.12

Hartford Bows to Paulson Wish to Exit Annuity Business (WSJ, earlier) Bowing to pressure from hedge-fund titan John Paulson, Hartford Financial Services Group said Wednesday it would exit its annuity business and weigh a sale of a large portion of its life-insurance operation. The move will allow Hartford to focus on its property-casualty unit, where the company got its start more than 200 years ago, as well as its group benefits business and its "high return" mutual fund operation, Chief Executive Liam McGee said in a statement. The announcement marks a substantial change of strategy for Hartford, which has long resisted calls to separate its life insurer from its property-casualty arm. Mr. Paulson, whose hedge fund is Hartford's largest shareholder, became the latest to push for such a move when he took to the company's fourth-quarter-earnings call in February to criticize management and urge them to "do something drastic" to boost the share price. Bernanke As Professor Tries To Buff Fed's Image (NYT) Mr. Bernanke, one of the most powerful men in Washington, has agreed to moonlight as a college professor, delivering four lectures on central banking over the next two weeks. He also will read some student papers...“It always surprises you to realize that this guy actually exists and he’s not just on TV,” said Max Sanders, a 19-year-old from New York. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear lectures from him,” said Noah Wiviott, 21, of New Jersey. “He clearly knows what he’s talking about.” Not everyone, however, found him convincing. Yuqi Wu, a 20-year-old student from China, said she did not agree with Mr. Bernanke’s criticism of her government’s monetary policy. “I definitely support the Chinese government’s position,” she said. Buffett Seizes Lead in Bet on Stocks Beating Hedge Funds (Bloomberg) Warren Buffett made a friendly bet four years ago that funds that invest in hedge funds for their clients couldn’t beat the stock market over a decade. So far he’s winning. The wager that began on Jan. 1, 2008, pits the Omaha, Nebraska, billionaire against Protégé Partners LLC, a New York fund of hedge funds co-founded by Ted Seides and Jeffrey Tarrant. Protégé built an index of five funds that invest in hedge funds to compete against a Vanguard mutual fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The winner’s charity of choice gets $1 million when the bet ends on Dec. 31, 2017. Banks Seek Delay On Volcker Rule (WSJ) The Volcker rule, which restricts banks' ability to trade with their own money, is set to take effect July 21, whether or not regulators have a final rule in place, according to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month that regulators likely wouldn't have a rule in time. A group representing banks and others involved in bundling and selling loans is warning that deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars may need to be shut down because of wording in the law requiring compliance with a rule that doesn't yet exist. Cops arrest Occupy Wall Street protesters in Union Square (NYP) Cops shut down Union Square and kicked out a large crowd of Occupy Wall Street protesters last night, arresting nine demonstrators last night and this morning, just days after larger clashes at the group's former encampment downtown. I love lava lamp (Politico) Another amusing exchange as Mitt Romney walked past a Chicago Google employee with a big blue lava lamp (turned off) on his desk: "That's a big lava lamp, congratulations," Romney said. Wilbur Ross: Long-Term Bond Bubble Getting Ready To Burst (CNBC) "I think the greatest bubble that is about to burst is the 10-year and longer Treasury, because the idea that inflation is gone forever and for all time, and therefore these artificially low rates can last, is silly," the president of W.H. Ross & Co. said in an interview. Bernanke: Fed Is Ready To Act If Europe Falters (Reuters) "In the past few months, financial stresses in Europe have lessened, which has contributed to an improved tone of financial markets around the world, including in the United States," Bernanke said in testimony prepared for a House hearing Wednesday. Bernanke stresses, however, that a full resolution of the crisis "will require a further strengthening of the European banking system; a significant expansion of financial backstops, or “firewalls,” to guard against contagion in sovereign debt markets." Greece Names New Finance Minister (WSJ) Greek Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sachinidis will be the country's new finance minister, replacing Evangelos Venizelos, the prime minister's office said Wednesday.

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Opening Bell: 11.16.17

Nelson Peltz wins recount (maybe); Wilbur Ross sued by former partners; Stephen Feinberg is gunning for Deutsche Bank; hot cop-on-cop action in Detroit; and more.