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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Wells Fargo sanctions are on ice under Trump official (Reuters)
The CFPB had been investigating the mortgage issue since early this year, said one current and two former officials. The agency accepted an internal review from Wells Fargo and set settlement terms in early November, said the sources. But that matter and roughly a dozen others are in question now that Mick Mulvaney, the agency chief tapped by President Donald Trump, has said he is reviewing the CFPB’s prior work.

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Making Credit Suisse Swiss Again Drives Its Turnaround (WSJ)
Looking ahead, much depends on whether Credit Suisse can pivot from what Mr. Thiam dubbed the “Greek tragedy” of 2016, when the bank was beset by heavy losses and internal strife, to a “virtuous circle” whereby wealth management and investment banking generate fees from rich clients. A promising trend: Asia is producing one new billionaire—or potential client—every other day.

JPMorgan's Dimon taking customer pricing hints from Amazon (Reuters)
“You are going to see more relationship pricing,” Dimon said on a Wells Fargo & Co webcast for its clients. “We give you more if you are at different levels and tiers,” he said - for example, some free stock trades. “We may test different types of things.”

'Bitcoin crash’ among significant market risks in 2018, says Deutsche Bank (CNBC)
At this juncture, as the cryptocurrency has advanced quadruple digits this year, Slok said the markets have not correctly priced in the broader impact bitcoin could potentially have. "It is something that I think financial markets so far have been discounting as a small issue," the economist said Thursday. He said he worries about whether bitcoin and its wild price swings could become "more systemic" next year if the current trends continue.

Arizona Congressman Resigns for — Wait, What Was That Again? (NYMag)
When Franks finally made his official announcement (after being surrounded on the House floor in a “prayer circle” by some of his fellow hard-core cultural conservatives), the case left the world of humdrum sex charges and entered something of a twilight zone: “I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.”

What Happens When the Government Uses Facebook as a Weapon? (Businessweek)
Ressa recalled that she started as a journalist in the Philippines in 1986, the year of the People Power Revolution, an uprising that ultimately led to the departure of Ferdinand Marcos and the move from authoritarian rule to democracy. Now she’s worried that the pendulum is swinging back and that Facebook is hastening the trend. “They haven’t done anything to deal with the fundamental problem, which is they’re allowing lies to be treated the same way as truth and spreading it,” she says. “Either they’re negligent or they’re complicit in state-sponsored hate.”

Bitcoin Futures Coming From Team That Rebounded From Epic Snafu (BBG)
Cboe Global Markets Inc. is preparing to release bitcoin futures into a bitcoin-obsessed world. Its tech staff knows how badly these things can go. Cboe bought exchange operator Bats Global Markets Inc. earlier this year. Back in 2012, Bats made Wall Street’s history books after it failed to complete a fundamental task of exchanges: getting a stock trading after an initial public offering. It wasn’t just any IPO -- it was the company’s own debut.

Google Is Giving Away AI That Can Build Your Genome Sequence (Wired)
On Monday, Google released a tool called DeepVariant that uses deep learning—the machine learning technique that now dominates AI—to assemble full human genomes. Modeled loosely on the networks of neurons in the human brain, these massive mathematical models have learned how to do things like identify faces posted to your Facebook news feed, transcribe your inane requests to Siri, and even fight internet trolls. And now, engineers at Google Brain and Verily (Alphabet’s life sciences spin-off) have taught one to take raw sequencing data and line up the billions of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs that make you you.

Firefighters free YouTube prankster who cemented head into microwave (Guardian)
Five firefighters spent an hour working to release a YouTube prankster who had cemented his head inside a microwave oven. The 22-year-old and a group of friends mixed seven bags of Polyfilla before pouring it around his head, which was protected by a plastic bag inside the appliance. Their intention was to use the microwave as a mould. By the time emergency services were called, the group had already been trying to free him for 90 minutes.

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Opening Bell: 11.28.17

Wells Fargo forex bankers not quite as honest as you'd expect; Tesla semi still slightly fantastical; the big boys are coming back to private equity; bitcoin is a gateway drug; and more.

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Credit Suisse Chief Takes Sharp Pay Cut (WSJ) Mr. Dougan's compensation more than halved to 5.8 million Swiss francs ($6.3 million) from 12.8 million francs a year earlier. Like all of Credit Suisse's top managers, he didn't get a cash bonus. While Mr. Dougan's base salary remained unchanged, his bonus, awarded in the form of deferred stocks, fell 69% to reflect the sharp drop in profits last year and the 41% drop in Credit Suisse's share price in 2011. SEC Probes Rapid Trading (WSJ) Federal securities regulators are examining whether some sophisticated, rapid-fire trading firms have used their close links to computerized stock exchanges to gain an unfair advantage over other investors, people familiar with the matter say. The wide-ranging probe, being handled by the enforcement staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is focusing on the computer-driven trading platforms of exchanges, including BATS Global Markets Inc., the people said. Fed’s Bullard Sees Price Threat From G-7 Delaying Tighter Policy (Bloomberg) U.S. monetary policy may be at a “turning point” and the Fed’s first interest-rate increase since the global financial crisis could come as soon as late 2013, Bullard said in a speech earlier today. That view contrasts with a debate among Fed policy makers on whether more stimulus is needed even after the U.S. economy accelerated and the unemployment rate fell. Bales Had Troubled Broker Career Before Allegations (Bloomberg) Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier suspected of shooting Afghan civilians, started selling community-bank stocks in 1996 as a 23-year-old driving a Chevy Cavalier. That may have been the peak of his financial career. Before Bales enlisted in the Army in 2001 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he worked at five firms in five years. After he left the industry, he was hit with a $1.5 million settlement for his role in swindling a couple out of more than $600,000 from their retirement account. “He wanted to be an investment adviser, and he had a plan as to how he was going to accomplish that,” said Robert K. Cargin, who hired Bales in September 2000 at Quantum Securities Corp. in Westerville, Ohio. “It just didn’t work out.” BofA Tests An Option To Foreclosure (WSJ) Borrowers would agree to a what is known as a "deed-in-lieu" of foreclosure, where they essentially sign over ownership of the property to the lender. This is less costly to the bank and also does less damage to a borrower's credit than a foreclosure. In exchange, former owners would be offered one-year leases with options to renew the leases in each of the following two years at rents that the bank determines are at or below the current market price. Borrowers would have to demonstrate an ability to pay the market rent. ‘Linsanity’ pot nipped in bud (NYP) The Knicks’ new superstar point guard’s legal eagles threw cease-and-desist orders at three California medical-marijuana dispensaries that were offering customers “Linsanity” weed...Two of the dispensaries discontinued the names and the other simply rebranded its grass “Insanity.” Skowron plans to appeal court’s ruling on $10.2M (NYP) Joseph “Chip” Skowron, the former FrontPoint fund manager now jailed for insider trading, plans to fight a judge’s ruling that he pay $10.2 million to his former employer, Morgan Stanley. Skowron’s attorney intends to appeal the ruling handed down Tuesday by Manhattan federal judge Denise Cote, Skowron’s spokesman, Montieth Illingworth, said. Illingworth also blasted Morgan Stanley’s plans to pursue another $33 million, which Cote denied in her decision. The bank, which owned FrontPoint when the scandal hit and clients fled, wanted a total of $45 million in victim’s compensation. UBS Sees ‘Earlier’ Fed Move; Barclays Sees Rates on Hold (Bloomberg) “We regard the trend toward higher yields as a healthy development,” Andrew Cates in Singapore and Larry Hatheway and Christine Li in London wrote in a UBS report yesterday. “It reflects a healing process in the U.S. economy and recognition that the Fed will be able to normalize monetary policy earlier than many envisage.” Investors should buy two-year Treasuries, Ajay Rajadhyaksha and Dean Maki, New York-based analysts at Barclays, wrote in a report yesterday. “We consider the recent rise in Fed hike expectations premature,” they wrote Obama To Tap Kim For World Bank Post (AP) President Barack Obama will nominate Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim to head the World Bank, a surprise pick for the international financial institution's top job, senior administration officials said.

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Opening Bell: 9.20.17

Guggenheim is in hot water; bitcoin's split could split again; quit your hedge fund and run for governor; a "Mad Pooper" is terrorizing Colorado; and more.