Opening Bell: 2.15.18

Markets ignoring stagflation; Soros is a crypto bro now; Steve Schwarzman is in a bubble of his own; Olympic dick statues are popular; and more!
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World stocks steam higher as inflation fears suddenly fizzle [Reuters]
Economists were struggling to explain the turnaround except for the argument that historically it’s not unusual for stocks and bond market borrowing costs to rise in tandem with a rapidly expanding economy.
Some just blamed the weather and time of year. They speculated that strong U.S. inflation data on Wednesday that many had predicted could reignite the rout was probably distorted. They also said the looming Chinese New Year may have caused Asian traders to square up.
Whatever the reason, the animal spirits were back.

Bitcoin Trembles at $10,000 Level, Paring Gains With Rival Coins [Bloomberg]
Bitcoin edged lower rather than break above $10,000, triggering a selloff in other large digital coins.
The largest cryptocurrency was up 3.1 percent to $9,573 as of 11:43 a.m. in London, after halting a march higher when it came within 0.3 percent of the resistance level. Ripple erased its increase, while Ethereum and Litecoin retreated from advances of as much as 15 percent.

Soros' fund buys shares of cryptocurrency play Overstock.com, while dumping Facebook [CNBC]
Soros Fund Management held 2,472,188 shares in Overstock at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, making it the third-largest shareholder, according to regulatory filings released late Wednesday.
These were worth $157.97 million at the end of the last trading day in December and $146.72 million at the close of trade Wednesday.

Here’s an Idea for Goldman: Buy Bank of New York Mellon [DealBook]
There’s a potentially ideal merger partner for the $104 billion Goldman Sachs. The Wall Street firm’s chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, told shareholders on Tuesday that it was already having some success turning around its stumbling fixed-income, currency and commodities trading unit. But buying $56 billion Bank of New York Mellon could be a better fix — if only the asset-management and custody specialist weren’t in a different league.
If the two were to combine, Goldman would get hold of more than $33 trillion in assets under custody and supervision — think clearing, cash management, global payments and the like. Goldman may be able to sweet-talk Bank of New York Mellon clients into sending more trades its way.

Billionaire Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman: Inflation fears should not overshadow benefits of a stronger economy [CNBC]
With inflation on the rise after years of historically low levels, bond yields have been spiking and putting pressure on the stock market.
But Schwarzman encouraged investors not to lose sight of the big picture: "We have to look at what's going on in the world; the real world, not the markets. Markets get ahead of things and markets get behind things."
He added, "The real world looks like it's in fine shape at the moment."

It’s Really Hard Not To Notice All The Penises At The Olympic Ski Jump Center [HuffPo]
The latest meme to emerge from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, has nothing to do with the athletes or the sports. It’s about a group of statues outside the Alpensia Ski Jump Center.
Called the “Bullet Men,” the statues have phallic heads and, well, actual phalluses. Needless to say, they’re getting plenty of attention on social media, especially in Japan where the images were shared under the hashtag #モルゲッソヨ, which is based on the Korean phrase for “I don’t know.” Tokyo Sports reported that someone asked a volunteer in Pyeongchang about the statues, and that was the reply.

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Opening Bell: 01.25.13

Ex-Barclays CEO Diamond Is Named on Latest Libor-Lawsuit List (Bloomberg) Ex-Barclays Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond and Former Chief Operating Officer Jerry Del Missier were among 25 bank employees anonymously referred to by regulators when the lender was fined for attempted interest rate rigging. Diamond and Del Missier were included on a second list released in a London court case linking Barclays staff to the London interbank offered rate. Judge Julian Flaux refused a request by some employees to prevent their names being published in connection to the case. Deutsche Bank Trader Fired Over Rate-Rigging Loses $53 Million (Bloomberg) Deutsche Bank's Christian Bittar, one of the firm’s best-paid traders, lost about 40 million euros ($53 million) in bonuses after he was fired for trying to rig interest rates, three people with knowledge of the move said. The lender dismissed Bittar in December 2011, claiming he colluded with a Barclays Plc (BARC) trader to manipulate rates and boost the value of his trades in 2006 and 2007, said the people, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. His attempts to rig the euro interbank offered rate and similar efforts by derivatives trader Guillaume Adolph over yen Libor are the focus of the bank’s probe, the people said. Both traders declined to comment for this story. “Upon discovering that a limited number of employees acted inappropriately, we sanctioned or dismissed those involved and clawed back all of their unvested compensation,” Deutsche Bank spokesman Michael Golden said in a statement. “To date we have found no link between the inappropriate conduct of a limited number of employees and the profits generated by these trades.” Aleksey Vayner may have died of drug overdose (DM) The Yale student who catapulted to Internet infamy with a disastrous video resume he sent to a prospective employer died at his home in Queens, New York. Vayner passed away at the age of 29, according to the New York City Medical Examiner - and reports from relatives suggest that he may have experienced a drug overdose...In the video, titled 'Impossible is Nothing,' a gravely serious Vayner attempts to prove his mental and physical fitness by talking about the meaning of success while lifting 495-pound weights, smacking tennis balls faster than 140 miles per hour, ball-dancing with a scantily-clad woman and breaking seven bricks with his hand. 'Ignore the losers, bring your A-game, your determination and your drive to the field, and the success will follow you,' he says in the video. JPMorgan to Block Shareholder Vote on Bank Break-Up (Reuters) A federation of U.S. labor unions is looking to force JPMorgan Chase's board to consider breaking up the company after the disastrous "London Whale" affair, but the bank is trying to ensure that its shareholders do not get to vote on the union's proposal. The largest U.S. bank is seeking permission from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to omit the proposal from the measures that shareholders vote on this spring,according to a letter sent to the agency on January 14. The proposal, from the AFL-CIO's Reserve Fund, a union fund that owns JPMorgan shares, calls on bank directors to form a committee that would explore "extraordinary transactions that could enhance stockholder value," including breaking off one or more of the company's businesses. As Cohen parties in Davos, legal eagles circle at home (NYP) Hedge-fund titan Steve Cohen took a break from battlinginvestor redemptions to hob-knob with other heavyweights at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. But Cohen, who runs $14 billion Stamford, Conn., hedge-fund giant SAC Capital, could be facing more trouble when he gets home. At least one class-action law firm is trying to rustle up investors to sue SAC for its ties to an alleged insider-trading scheme that led to the arrest of a former portfolio manager. Wilmington, Del.-based Chimicles & Tikellis posted a notice on its website saying it is seeking SAC investors and limited partners and is “actively investigating a proposed investor lawsuit against SAC Capital.” Any resulting lawsuit would be pegged to SAC’s “mismanagement of the limited partnership and certain hedge funds.” Wisconsin Man Wearing "Breathalyzer" T-Shirt Arrested For Sixth Time For Drunk Driving (TSG) The 30-year-old was arrested early Saturday morning for drunk driving after he was found passed out at the wheel of a Chevrolet Cavalier that was parked with its engine running in the middle of a Wisconsin road. Wendler, who reeked of intoxicants, failed a series of field sobriety tests and appeared “dazed and confused,” according to a Marathon County Sheriff’s Department report, which noted that a deputy spotted an unopened six-pack of beer on the vehicle’s passenger seat. A breath sample recorded Wendler’s blood alcohol content as .19, more than twice the legal limit. As a result, he was charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated--the sixth time he has been busted for drunk driving. Wendler’s extensive DWI history, of course, makes his t-shirt choice a strange one. As seen in his mug shot, Wandler was nabbed while wearing a shirt referencing drinking and a “free Breathalyzer test.” The shirt also includes an arrow (beneath the words “blow here”) pointing downward toward Wendler’s crotch. Financial Job Losses Near Four-Year High as Europe Leads (Bloomberg) Financial-services firms are on track to cut the most jobs in January since the start of 2009 as Europe struggles to emerge from the debt crisis and regulators impose tougher capital rules. The 16,040 announced and expected reductions in the past three weeks are just short of the 16,389 cuts made in the industry during January 2009 after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bankers and consultants expect the cuts to accelerate in coming months even as financial stocks gained 26 percent last year. Credit Bubble Seen in Davos as Cohn Warns of Repricing (Bloomberg) Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn warned of a potential drop in fixed-income prices as bankers and policy makers in Davos celebrated surging demand for financial assets. Debt markets that have seen junk-bond yields drop to record lows may face a “substantial repricing” if interest rates spike or investors begin pulling money out of fixed income, Cohn, 52, said in an interview yesterday with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Morgan Stanley CEO To Take Pay Cut (WSJ) Morgan Stanley disclosed Thursday that Mr. Gorman would receive about $2.6 million in stock options for 2012. All told, he will receive $6 million in salary, cash and stock for the year, said a person familiar with the company's compensation plans, plus participation in an incentive plan whose value wasn't disclosed. His full pay package won't be disclosed until this spring's proxy statement. Thousands of crocodiles on loose after floods hit South African farm (The Guardian) Around 15,000 crocodiles made the great escape from the Rakwena crocodile farm near the border with Botswana on Sunday, according to the newspaper Beeld. Although "a few thousand" have since been recaptured, including one at a school rugby ground 75 miles away, more than half of the reptiles are still at large.