Opening Bell: 12.5.17

Mueller is poking around at Deutsche Bank; bankers might be a little too accommodating to hedge fund clients; actual mining company mines bitcoin; Irish villagers face erection epidemic; and more.
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Deutsche Bank receives subpoena from Mueller on Trump accounts (Reuters)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank to share data on accounts held by U.S. President Donald Trump and his family, a person close to the matter said on Tuesday. Germany’s largest bank received a subpoena from Mueller several weeks ago to provide information on certain money and credit transactions, the person added, confirming a report by German daily Handelsblatt published on Tuesday.

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Record Earnings Boost Confidence in Global Markets Rally (WSJ)
The earnings-per-share of a FactSet index of over 20,000 listed companies from around the world has now reached an average of $9.69, increasing nearly 19% in the last year. That is the fastest year-over-year rise since 2011, surpassing the late-2014 high of $9.55. While the FactSet data only stretch back to 2001, increased earnings in emerging markets like China, among other factors, mean that the per-share level has likely never been higher.

SEC Is Said to Probe If Banks Helped Hedge Funds Inflate Returns (BBG)
Wall Street banks are known to fiercely compete for hedge-fund clients because of the lucrative trading profits they provide. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating whether some banks crossed the line to win business by offering hedge funds bogus price quotes on hard-to-value bonds, said two people familiar with the matter. The SEC’s concern: As a reward for helping hedge funds make money -- by submitting quotes at requested levels -- banks got trades steered their way.

Does Anything Back This Mysterious $814 Million Cryptocurrency? (BBG)
Tether’s website makes a claim that’s unusual among cryptocurrencies: “every tether is always backed 1-to-1 by traditional currency held in our reserves.” The site also says each tether can be redeemed for $1. But its terms of service say: “There is no contractual right or other right or legal claim against us to redeem or exchange your tethers for money. We do not guarantee any right of redemption or exchange of tethers by us for money.” ALSO: This Mining Company Soared 159% After Saying It’s Buying a Crypto Firm

Where Silicon Valley Is Going to Get in Touch With Its Soul (NYT)
Mr. Tauber was a surprising pick to head a retreat center. He had previously founded a real-time celebrity geo-stalking service called JustSpotted when Google hired him and his team in 2011. Soon after, he vacationed in Big Sur and decided his work was causing harm, he said. “I realized I was addicting people to their phones,” Mr. Tauber said. “It’s a crisis that everyone’s in the culture of killing it, and inside they’re dying.”

Aggregate productivity and the rise of mark-ups (VoxEU)
Our results show that this reallocation of market share from low- to high-mark-up firms has considerably improved the allocative efficiency of the US economy over the last 20 years. In fact, improvements in allocative efficiency account for about 50% of the cumulated growth in aggregate productivity during this period. This suggests that ‘true’ technological productivity growth has been even slower than previously imagined.

There’s (STILL) Deflation in Hyperinflation Forecasts (PragCap)
It’s crazy. If there was high inflation then there would almost certainly be rising demand for hyperinflation services. But the exact opposite has happened. The price has deflated despite a rise of 25% in the CPI since 2006 when the first screenshots are available. In other words, the best indicator of low inflation comes from the very people who sell services based on hyperinflation happening.

Irish villagers complain Viagra plant fumes have men and dogs walking around with ‘hard-ons’ (Irish Post)
Villagers claim that Ringaskiddy’s proximity to the plant and its “love fumes” has been giving local men – and even their canine friends – enormous sexual powers. Barmaid Debbie O’Grady told the Sunday Times: “One whiff and you’re stiff. We’ve been getting the love fumes for years now for free.” Ms O’Grady’s mother, Sadie, said that living in Ringaskiddy is a blessing for men who suffer “problems in that department,” adding that there is “something in the air.” The widower added: “I’m a flirtatious woman, a lot of us are. You just have to have a spark, that’s all. There’s a lovely man waiting down the road for me.”

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Bernanke Returns to Academic Roots to Justify Fed’s Existence (Bloomberg) Bernanke will lecture to about 30 undergraduate students at George Washington University in the first of four hour-long talks on the history of the Fed as part of what public relations specialist Richard Dukas called a “P.R. offensive” to buff the central bank’s tarnished image. The Fed is being attacked from both the left and the right, with liberals criticizing it for not doing enough to bring down unemployment, and conservatives blaming it for doing too much and risking faster inflation...The lecture series -- the brainchild of the Fed and the first by a sitting chairman -- will be streamed live on the central-bank’s website and on ustream.tv. Afterwards, it will be posted on the Fed’s YouTube page. The central bank said transcripts also will be available. “I understand he’s excited about coming back and being in the classroom,” said Tim Fort, the professor in charge of the half-semester class. Mets owners could actually make money in Madoff settlement (NYP) Under the deal, Mets owners have agreed to pay back $162 million in phantom profits that they withdrew from their Madoff accounts between 2002 and 2008 — the year the Ponzi pyramid collapsed. Picard also dropped his claim that the owners were “willfully blind” to the scheme — allowing them to claim up to $178 million as victims of the fraud. Goldman Sachs Cuts Staff in Annual Review Process (Reuters) Goldman Sachs has begun a new round of staff cuts in its trading and investment banking divisions, three sources familiar with the matter said, a sign of continued cutbacks on Wall Street...The latest round of cuts is part of Goldman's annual employee review process. It's unclear how many people will be affected by the job eliminations, which began two weeks ago, because different divisions have received different targets, sources said. While management has formulated an overall plan for cost-cutting, all of the job cuts may not be completed for months, said a source familiar with the matter. Deutsche Bank Cuts Board’s Pay 19% as Profit Goal Missed (Bloomberg) Jain earned 5.81 million euros ($7.67 million) in salary and bonuses for last year, down from 7.55 million euros, Deutsche Bank said today in its financial report. Jain and the board’s other six members received 26.4 million euros compared with 32.4 million euros in 2010, when there were eight members. Jefferies Net Down 12%; Revenue Tops Forecasts (WSJ) Fixed-income trading revenue came in at $339.1 million in the quarter ended Feb. 29, up 6.6% from a year earlier and more than double what the firm booked in the prior quarter. Investment-banking revenue rose to $285.8 million, up 20% from a year earlier and 9.4% from the previous quarter. Overall, Jefferies reported a profit of $77.1 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $87.3 million, or 42 cents a share. Revenue increased 2.2% to $758.1 million. Analysts expected a per-share profit of 29 cents on $699 million in revenue, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters. The Banker And The Cabbie: When Two Worlds Collide (Reuters) The day, December 21, 2011, had started out normally as Jennings left the kind of home - sweeping curved staircase, perfectly plumped chintz pillows, backyard swimming pool and a Ferrari in the garage - that makes many New Yorkers deeply jealous, and headed to the steel-and-glass tower in midtown Manhattan where he directed the firm's bond business...Morgan Stanley has already placed him on leave. The firm's spokesman declined to comment, other than to say no decision has been made regarding Jennings' longer-term status at the firm. One top-ranking Morgan Stanley executive, though, said he "does not stand a chance of getting his job back." Deutsche Bank Sued In US Over Libor (CNBC) Deutsche Bank said it received subpoenas and requests for information from U.S. and European Union agencies as part of a global probe into interbank offered rates and that it was also being sued over alleged dollar interbank rate manipulation...The inquiries relate to periods between 2005 and 2011, the bank said, adding it was cooperating with the investigations. Geithner Warns Europe Against Draconian Austerity (Reuters) "Economic growth is likely to be weak for some time. The path of fiscal consolidation should be gradual with a multiyear phase-in of reforms," Geithner said in remarks prepared for delivery to the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. "If every time economic growth disappoints, governments are forced to cut spending or raise taxes immediately to make up for the impact of weaker growth on deficits, this would risk a self-reinforcing negative spiral of growth-killing austerity," he said. Wall Street Can Learn From The Goldman Flap (WSJ) Rather than extolling Goldman's "client-driven" culture, as they did in their response to Mr Smith last week, Mr Blankfein and his No. 2 Gary Cohn should have seized the opportunity to explain how the business of finance really works. Jobseekers Get Asked For Facebook Passwords (AP) Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn't see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information. Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn't want to work for a company that would seek such personal information. Jon Hamm sticks to his guns in calling Kim Kardashian an 'idiot (NYDN) NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer asked the AMC retro-series actor to clarify the earlier comments he made to Elle UK about Kardashian being a famous-for-being-famous “idiot,” which the reality starlet called “careless.” “I don’t think it was careless. I think it was accurate,” he told Lauer.

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Opening Bell: 12.8.17

Wells Fargo gets a mulligan or three from the Trump administration; making Credit Suisse Swiss again; Deutsche Bank is worried about a bitcoin crash; a congressman asked to borrow a staffer's uterus; and more.

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Opening Bell: 11.13.17

Bitcoin is doing the opposite of going up; Goldman bankers hit the hinterlands; Bill Miller wants you to know he's not senile; angry people smash Keurigs; and more.

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Opening Bell: 7.6.17

Add Janet Yellen to the list of people concerned about the VIX; Deutsche Bank still eyeing Frankfurt; bomb found in Manhattan actually a nightclub's time capsule; and more.