Opening Bell: 2.1.18

J-Yellz says farewell by keeping it real; Facebook results are existential; Elon sold out of flamethrowers; Villanova student becomes millionaire by selling beer shelves in mens rooms; and more!
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Yellen era ends with Fed set for March rate rise [WSJ]
The Federal Open Market Committee held its target range for the federal funds rate unchanged at 1.25 to 1.5 per cent, as widely expected, while giving an upbeat assessment of the economy’s recent performance and stressing “further” rate rises lie ahead.
The committee upgraded its near-term outlook for inflation, saying it expected year-on-year readings to “move up this year” before stabilising around its 2 per cent goal in the medium term. Expectations for inflation in financial markets have risen in recent months, even if they remain low, the central bank said.

Facebook Aims to Soothe Wall Street Over News Feed Changes [NYT]
On Wednesday, Facebook sought to soothe Wall Street’s worries over those questions. No, people will not spend as much time on the site, the company said as it reported quarterly financial results. But don’t worry, Facebook added, because the changes will ultimately benefit its business.
With the adjustments to what it shows on its site, “I believe that the time spent on Facebook will be more valuable,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a conference call with analysts. “If people interact more, it should lead to stronger community. When you care about something, you’re willing to see ads to experience it.”

Bitcoin Sinks Below $10k Following $133 Billion January Loss [CoinDesk]
The downward move follows a month for bitcoin when its market capitalization has tumbled from a high of $296 billion on Jan. 5 to $163 billion today – a $133 billion loss.
Having failed to hold above the $10,000 mark for the third time in last 48 hours, prices on CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) dropped to $9,480. The BPI was last seen this low on Jan. 17, when prices fell to $9,199.59.
On a 24-hour basis, bitcoin (BTC) is down 6.16 percent, according to data source CoinMarketCap. Further, the price action in the last 48 hours has established the former support zone of $10,000–$10,313 (50 percent Fibonacci retracement of 2017 low–high) as a strong resistance.

EU cannot guarantee Britain's rights vs. third states after Brexit [Reuters]
The European Union cannot guarantee third countries will grant Britain the same benefits it currently enjoys from trade pacts and other agreements during the 21-month transition period after it quits the bloc.
Diplomats in Brussels said the EU would still expect Britain to be bound by such deals during the transition, from March 30, 2019 until the end of 2020.
“But we can’t guarantee that some third country, for political or other reasons, wouldn’t want to bug the UK and argue that it is out of the EU and perhaps shouldn’t have the benefits from an agreement during transition,” one diplomat said.

Elon Musk’s Boring Company sells all of its flamethrowers in less than a week [CNBC]
By Monday, the company had sold $3.5 million worth of flamethrowers. Musk's idea to start selling them followed The Boring Company's unusually successful run selling hats. He said last month that, if the company sold 50,000 hats, it would start selling flamethrowers.
The Boring Company's new product officially sold out Thursday, Musk said on Twitter. That means Musk's infrastructure firm has now sold $10 million worth of the devices.

Ex-Morgan Stanley advisers used clients’ cash to fund wind farm project: feds [NYPost]
Federal prosecutors in Boston said James Polese, 51, and Cornelius Peterson, 28, without permission used $500,000 from the accounts of two clients to invest in and support the wind farm project.
Prosecutors said Peterson was personally involved in the project and Polese was an investor but that it needed additional funding. It was also not an investment opportunity that Morgan Stanley authorized for clients, prosecutors said.

High-Interest Lenders Benefit From Trump’s Deregulatory Stance [WSJ]
Under its new Trump-appointed leadership, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently called off a four-year investigation into World Acceptance Corp., a South Carolina-based lender that targets subprime borrowers with short-term, small-dollar loans carrying annual interest rates of as much as 100%.
The company’s shares have nearly tripled since President Donald Trump’s election victory in November 2016. Other high-interest lenders, including Enova International Inc. and EZCorp Inc., have also seen their stocks jump.

A college kid invented a bathroom shelf for your beer—now he sells $2 million worth a year [CNBC]
He noticed every other guy in the bathroom was also trying to balance a beer on the urinal, on the floor, in a pocket or holding it between his teeth.
"I walk out, and I see a line by the bathroom," he says. "Everyone in line is carrying beer, the women are carrying purses walking in, and I'm like, 'This is crazy. Why isn't there a functional piece in the bathroom?'"
Williams imagined a simple shelf next to toilets or urinals that could hold a beer, phone or pocketbook.

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(Wikimedia Commons)

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Before Scandal, Class Over Control Of Libor (WSJ) At an April 25, 2008, meeting with officials at the Bank of England, Angela Knight, head of the British Bankers' Association, argued that the London interbank offered rate had become too big for her organization to manage, according to minutes of the meeting and a person who was there. Her suggestion went nowhere. Even as Libor's deep flaws became apparent, regulators resisted a greater oversight role, the BBA's member banks clung to control of Libor, and BBA executives bickered with one another over whether to hang onto the lucrative business, according to people who were involved and a Wall Street Journal review of hundreds of pages of emails, meeting minutes and other documents. Treasury Sells Big Chunk Of AIG Stock (WSJ) The Treasury sold about 554 million shares to the public at $32.50 apiece for a total of $18 billion in one of the biggest global follow-on stock offerings since the financial crisis. The offering was the Treasury's fifth sale of AIG stock since early last year and reduced the government's stake in the company to about 22% from 92% in early 2011. The price set Monday was above the government's cost basis of $28.73 a share, meaning taxpayers will earn a profit on the sale. New iPhone could boost U.S. GDP by up to 0.5 percent, JP Morgan says (Reuters) "Calculated using the so-called retail control method, sales of iPhone 5 could boost annualized GDP growth by $3.2 billion, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate," Feroli wrote. That 0.33 percentage-point boost, he added, "would limit the downside risk to our Q4 GDP growth protection, which remains 2.0 percent." Feroli laid out his math. J.P. Morgan's analysts expect Apple to sell around 8 million iPhone 5s in the fourth quarter. They expect the sales price to be about $600. With about $200 in discounted import component costs, the government can factor in $400 per phone into its measure of gross domestic product for the fourth quarter. Feroli said the estimate of between a quarter to a half point of annualized GDP "seems fairly large, and for that reason should be treated skeptically." But, he added, "we think the recent evidence is consistent with this projection." Geithner Holds His Own on Triathlon Front (Dealbook) Geithner participated in the 7th annual Nation’s Triathlon to Benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Sunday, swimming, biking and running his way through the nation’s capital. The race involved a 1.5-kilometer swim in the Potomac River, a 40-kilometer bike ride through the city and a 10-kilometer run. And Mr. Geithner, 51, can boast of a pretty good finish to his race, completing the course in 2:33:07. He placed ninth in his division, men aged 50 to 54, according to the race’s Web site. Individually, he completed the swim in 29:10, the bike ride in 1:13:52 and the run in 45:51. New Yorker Cartoon Dept Temporarily Banned From Facebook For Violating ‘Nudity And Sex’ Standards (Mediaite) In a post entitled “Nipplegate,” the New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, Robert Mankoff, detailed how the magazine’s cartoon department became temporarily banned on Facebook: a particular Mick Stevens cartoon violated the social networking site’s community standards on “Nudity and Sex.” Stevens redrew the cartoon, he said, “but the gain in clothes caused too great a loss in humor.” He then noted that Facebook has different standards when it comes to males and females. As “the guidelines say, ‘male nipples are ok.’ It’s the ‘female nipple bulges’ that are the problem.” Big Banks Hide Risk Transforming Collateral for Traders (Bloomberg) JPMorgan and Bank of America are helping clients find an extra $2.6 trillion to back derivatives trades amid signs that a shortage of quality collateral will erode efforts to safeguard the financial system. Starting next year, new rules designed to prevent another meltdown will force traders to post U.S. Treasury bonds or other top-rated holdings to guarantee more of their bets. The change takes effect as the $10.8 trillion market for Treasuries is already stretched thin by banks rebuilding balance sheets and investors seeking safety, leaving fewer bonds available to backstop the $648 trillion derivatives market. The solution: At least seven banks plan to let customers swap lower-rated securities that don’t meet standards in return for a loan of Treasuries or similar holdings that do qualify, a process dubbed “collateral transformation.” That’s raising concerns among investors, bank executives and academics that measures intended to avert risk are hiding it instead. Soros: Germany going into depression in 6 months (MarketWatch) The recession in Europe will spread to Germany, the euro-zone's largest economy, within six months, said George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management. "The policy of fiscal retrenchment in the midst of rising unemployment is pro-cyclical and pushing Europe into a deeper and longer depression," Soros said in prepared remarks for a speech in Berlin Monday. "That is no longer a forecast; it is an observation. The German public doesn't yet feel it and doesn't quite believe it. But it is all too real in the periphery and it will reach Germany in the next six months or so." Lindsay Lohan encourages President Obama to slash taxes for 'Forbes millionaires' (DM) In a tweet fired off on Friday, the 26-year-old actress encouraged President Barack Obama to consider lowering taxes for the one-percenters listed on the Forbes Magazine’ millionaires’ list. Lohan, who has been very active on Twitter recently, was responding to a message posted by the Obama campaign following his Thursday speech at the Democratic National Convention. ‘I’ve cut taxes for those who need it: middle-class families, small businesses,’ the tweet read. About 10 minutes later, the star of the upcoming Elizabeth Taylor biopic ‘Liz and Dick’ put in her two cents on the issue of tax cuts: ‘We also need to cut them for those that are listed on Forbes as "millionaires" if they are not, you must consider that as well,’ her late-night message read. Gross Says Age of Credit Expansion Led Fund Returns Over (Bloomberg) Gross’s outlook follows his commentary last month, which sparked debate among investors and analysts after he declared that the “cult of equity” was dying. In his August comments, he compared long-term returns from equities to a “Ponzi scheme” and said returns of 6.6 percent above inflation, known as the Siegel Constant, won’t be seen again. “Our credit-based financial system is burdened by excessive fat and interest rates that are too low,” Gross wrote. “Central banks are agog in disbelief that the endless stream of” liquidity pumped into the banking sector has not stimulated lending, Gross wrote. Queen's Corgi Buried At Balmor (TDB) The dog, Monty was involved in a fight recently when he was one of a number of dogs which attacked Princess Beatrice's terrier Max over the summer, but it appears the fight - Max came off worst and nearly lost an ear in the fracas - was not a contributory cause of death. Buckingham Palace is not officially revealing how or when the corgi, named Monty (after the American horse whisperer Monty Roberts who has advised the queen on dogs and horses) met his end, but palace sources told the Royalist the animal passed away of old age over the summer. The animal died at the Royal Scottish residence of Balmoral, where, in accordance with tradition, he has been buried in the Royal pet cemetery opened by Queen Victoria when her beloved Collie, Noble, died there in 1887...the Queen is known to take the deaths of her pets hard: Lady Pamela Hicks, the mother of India Hicks once wrote a note when one of the Queen’s corgis died and received a six-page letter back.

By Alex Guibord [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 10.1.18

NAFTA lives!; John Flannery does not!; Elon does both!; Breast pump ad goes awry; and more!

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Opening Bell: 9.7.18

Elon gets high on a podcast; Opioid heir patents addiction cure; Paul Singer kicking at Hyundai; and more!

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Opening Bell: 10.25.18

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Opening Bell: 8.8.18

China fires back; Elon spouts off; Crypto goes down; Arsenal FC still crap; Broken vagina woman shares all;' and more!