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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Opening Bell: 1.25.18

Trump to meet with Mueller; Mnuchin knows what he said about the dollar; 50 Cent is a Bitcoin millionaire; Man explodes cell batter by biting it; and more!

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Opening Bell: 5.15.17

JPMorgan bets on the luck of the Irish; Snap underwriters actually less bullish?; Trump lawyer Michael Cohen really (really) loves his daughter; and more.

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Opening Bell: 11.29.17

Barclays doesn't want to burden everyone with bonuses this time around; Goldman thinks stocks too high; have you heard of this bitcoin thing?; Tufts ditches Mooch; and more.

Opening Bell: 10.15.12

Global Finance Chiefs At Odds (WSJ) At the annual meetings here of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, European officials bickered about the damage caused by austerity; this week they head into a major euro-zone summit with no clear rescue plan for Greece. A territorial row between China and Japan, the world's second- and third-largest economies, bled into the conference with no sign of resolution, highlighting a new risk to growth. And many top finance officials pointed fingers at the U.S. for casting a new cloud over global markets by failing to make progress on the budget mess in the world's largest economy. Thousands March In Spain To Protest Austerity (Reuters) Several thousand anti-austerity protesters in Spain marched down a major street in the capital banging pots and pans Saturday. Many protesters also blew whistles as they blocked part of the Castellana boulevard Saturday carrying placards saying "We don't owe, we won't pay." "None of us pushed the banks to lend huge sums of money to greedy property speculators, yet we are being asked to pay for other's mistakes," 34-year-old civil servant Maria Costa, who was banging an old pot along with her two children, said. Bernanke Defends Fed From Claims It Is Being Selfish (NYT) Critics say the Fed’s unorthodox policies weaken the dollar and bolster the currencies of developing countries, hurting their ability to export. “It is not at all clear that accommodative policies in advanced economies impose net costs on emerging market economies,” Mr. Bernanke said at an event sponsored by the Bank of Japan and the International Monetary Fund. The Fed last month announced a program of open-ended bond purchases that will be continued until there is substantial improvement in labor market conditions, barring a sustained and unexpected spike in inflation. To start off, the central bank will buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month. “This policy not only helps strengthen the U.S. economic recovery, but by boosting U.S. spending and growth, it has the effect of helping support the global economy as well,” Mr. Bernanke said. Fischer Backs Fed QE3 as World ‘Awfully Close’ to Recession (Bloomberg) While there has been “a lot of progress made” to improve the global economy, its impact hasn’t materialized, Fischer said in an interview in Tokyo with Bloomberg Television airing Sunday. He signaled that by deciding not to set an end date or total amount to its third program of bond buying, the Fed is easing worries it will run out of ammunition before achieving its goals. Can Morgan Stanley's Gorman Save Wall Street? (BV) Gorman’s strategic moves are enough to convince one natural born skeptic, Mike Mayo, a financial-industry research analyst at Credit Agricole SA (ACA), to recommend Morgan Stanley’s stock for the first time in years. “The stock is valued as if it is a Greek or Spanish bank but its risk is far less,” he wrote in an e-mail to me. For Morgan Stanley to return to its glory days, he said, margins need to be improved in asset management, fixed-income trading needs to be further slimmed down and the core investment-banking franchise needs to be maintained and reinvigorated. Good advice. A firm built around lower risk-taking and lower overall pay while still providing clients with the advice and capital they need to innovate and expand is what we need on Wall Street. It’s the vision of one man taking seriously his responsibility to make the capital markets safe and productive for economies all over the world, instead of just some casino gone haywire where the house absorbs the losses and the profits go to the gamblers. The question is whether other leaders on Wall Street will follow Gorman’s example. Sex Life Was ‘Out of Step,’ Strauss-Kahn Says, but Not Illegal (NYT) More than a year after resigning in disgrace as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is seeking redemption with a new consulting company, the lecture circuit and a uniquely French legal defense to settle a criminal inquiry that exposed his hidden life as a libertine...In France, “Libertinage” has a long history in the culture, dating from a 16th-century religious sect of libertines. But the most perplexing question in the Strauss-Kahn affair is how a career politician with ambition to lead one of Europe’s most powerful nations was blinded to the possibility that his zest for sex parties could present a liability, or risk blackmail. The exclusive orgies called “parties fines” — lavish Champagne affairs costing around $13,000 each — were organized as a roving international circuit from Paris to Washington by businessmen seeking to ingratiate themselves with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. Some of that money, according to a lawyer for the main host, ultimately paid for prostitutes because of a shortage of women at the mixed soirees orchestrated largely for the benefit of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who sometimes sought sex with three or four women. German finance chief Wolfgang Schaeuble says Greece won't default or exit (Telegraph) "Greece has to take a lot of very serious reforms" and "everyone is trusting that the Greek government is doing what is necessary", he said at a meeting with business leaders in Singapore on Sunday. Mr Schaeuble said an increasing majority of Greeks understand that being in the euro "is in the best interest of Greece" and said did not think there would be a ‘staatsbankrott’ - or state bankruptcy. He said he did not see “any sense to speculate on Greece leaving the euro” because it would be very damaging for both the country and the region. High-Speed Trading No Longer Hurtling Forward (NYT) Profits from high-speed trading in American stocks are on track to be, at most, $1.25 billion this year, down 35 percent from last year and 74 percent lower than the peak of about $4.9 billion in 2009, according to estimates from the brokerage firm Rosenblatt Securities. By comparison, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase each earned more in the last quarter than the high-speed trading industry will earn this year. Titanic Tycoon Plans Stake Sale Talks for $8 Billion Gas Project (Bloomberg) Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer, who’s planning to build a modern replica of the Titanic, aims to start talks next year to sell stakes in a potential $8 billion natural gas project in Papua New Guinea. “We’ve had interest from major petrochemical companies who want to joint venture” including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chinese companies, Palmer said in an interview. “We will talk to them at the appropriate time,” likely mid-2013 when field work is scheduled to be completed, he said. Occupy Supporters Stage Protest in London (AP) Several supporters of the anti-corporate Occupy movement chained themselves to the pulpit of St. Paul’s Cathedral during a service on Sunday in an action for the anniversary of its now-dismantled protest camp outside the London landmark. The dean of St. Paul’s, David Ison, said he was conducting an evening prayer service when “four young women dressed in white” chained themselves to the structure. Dutch make massive cocaine bust in fruit shipment headed for zoo, arrest five (AP) A major cocaine seizure in Europe turned out to be good news for the animals at Rotterdam’s zoo. The drugs were hidden among boxes of bananas, and the fruit went to the monkeys and other creatures at the Blijdorp zoo. Dutch prosecutors said Friday more than eight tons of cocaine was hidden among the bananas on a ship from Ecuador. The drugs were seized Monday in the Belgian port of Antwerp, while the bananas were allowed to continue on to Rotterdam – the shipment’s final destination. Dutch police arrested a Belgian truck driver and four Dutch men on Tuesday.

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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.

YellenMeteor

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.