JPMorgan fires several employees who took Covid relief funds [FT]
The individuals who allegedly fraudulently obtained EIDL loans had not been acting in their capacity as JPMorgan employees, but that breaking the law was a violation of the bank’s code of conduct and some people were fired as a result of their improper EIDL applications…. JPMorgan, which employs more than 160,000 people in the US, found that some of its own staff had deposited suspicious EIDL funds in their Chase checking accounts. Those cases accounted for a “very small” percentage of the total suspicious activity uncovered by JPMorgan, the person said.

Mall owners Simon, Brookfield set to rescue JC Penney from bankruptcy in $800 million deal [CNBC]
Wells Fargo has also agreed to give Penney $2 billion in revolving credit once the transaction is completed, leaving the retailer with $1 billion in cash, he said…. The hedge funds and private equity firms that have financed Penney’s bankruptcy are set to take ownership of some stores and the retailer’s distribution centers, in exchange for forgiving some of Penney’s $5 billion debt load….
Describing the ongoing tensions, Sussberg said Wednesday, “We’ve had a few screaming matches, including earlier today, but we got there.”

TikTok, U.S. Discuss Ways to Avoid Sale [WSJ]
Even if there isn’t a full sale, the outcome would likely involve some sort of restructuring of TikTok, one of the people said. That could involve a deal in which TikTok takes on a U.S. technology partner that helps secure its data and potentially takes a minority stake…. Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that he wants an American company to buy the operations, and it isn’t clear whether any alternative would satisfy his concerns. Where China stands is also a mystery.

Successful With Chinese Startups, Sequoia China Launches a Hedge Fund [WSJ]
In August the firm launched the U.S.-dollar-denominated Sequoia Capital Equity Partners fund with initial capital of more than $300 million from investors…. Sequoia China has lately broadened its horizon beyond early and growth-stage investing to buy stakes in companies at later stages of development or close to going public.

Elliott Seeks to Break Up Chevron’s Takeover of Noble [Bloomberg]
The New York-based hedge fund, which is run by billionaire Paul Singer, believes the takeover was done at the wrong time for the wrong reasons…. Elliott believes the company is better positioned to benefit from a recovery in oil prices on a standalone basis, and should consider selling its Mediterranean assets when that happens, they said….
Elliott believes members of Noble’s management stand to make about $88 million in various forms of compensation from the deal, including $60 million for senior managers, the people said. The investor also believes that Noble investors received a poor ratio of Chevron shares and so won’t benefit from a recovery in oil prices as they would if the company was a standalone entity.

Forbes Releases 39th Annual Forbes 400 Ranking Of The Richest Americans [Forbes]
Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, remains in the top spot on the 2020 Forbes 400 list for the third consecutive year. Bezos’ fortune of $179 billion, as of July 24, 2020, is up 57% from last year…. Donald Trump’s ranking dropped to No. 352 from 275 in 2019, and his net worth dropped to $2.5 billion from last year’s $3.1 billion, as the value of office buildings, hotels and resorts have taken a hit amid the pandemic.

What Milton Friedman Missed About Social Inequality [DealBook]
Fifty years ago, the economist Milton Friedman warned in his seminal essay, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” that corporate executives would undermine the “basis of a free society” if they acted as if “business has a ‘social conscience’ and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the watchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers….”
The concerns Mr. Friedman lampooned as obsessions of the “contemporary crop of reformers” in 1970 remain urgent problems…. In the past 50 years, instead of gains for stockholders and top management tracking gains for workers — as characterized by the period when Mr. Friedman wrote — the returns of our capitalist system have become skewed toward the haves….
There is a rueful irony in this anniversary. Mr. Friedman wrote the influential essay at a time when economic security was strong, as the New Deal’s principles produced widespread prosperity, reduced poverty and helped Black Americans take their first real strides toward economic inclusion. Since then, the United States has gone backward in economic equality and security — a situation that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed for all to see.

Source: Mets sale to Steve Cohen going 'smoothly' [Newsday]
Close to two weeks after he entered exclusive negotiations to buy the Mets, hedge-fund multibillionaire Steve Cohen’s talks with the Wilpon and Katz families are progressing “smoothly” with “no obstacles,” a source said Wednesday.
The deal is expected to become official within the next week or two, according to the source. If and when that happens, Cohen still will need to be vetted by MLB and approved by 23 of the other 29 club owners, a process that could take more than a month.

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(Getty Images)

Opening Bell: 12.15.17

JPMorgan likes the look of that there stock market; Deutsche Bank misses having the dirtiest bank in the world as its customer; maybe low wages lead to slow productivity, not vice versa?; finance bros dig crystals now; and more.

Opening Bell: 03.07.13

Fed's Fisher Pins Slow Growth on Politicians (WSJ) Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher on Wednesday blamed both major U.S. political parties for a "horrid" political climate in Washington, and said monetary policy alone can't drive the economy. "We provided the fuel for economic recovery," Mr. Fisher said of the central bank, describing the Fed's stimulus as "very high-octane, dirt-cheap gasoline." But he said that neither Republican nor Democratic politicians in Washington have done their part by putting policies in place that spur the private sector "to take the cheap fuel that we have provided and step on the accelerator." Banks Said to Weigh Defying Fed With Dividend Disclosures (Bloomberg) The largest U.S. banks are weighing whether to disregard a Federal Reserve request and announce their dividend plans shortly after the central bank’s stress tests are released, people with knowledge of the process said. The Fed has asked 18 firms, including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, to wait until next week, even though the lenders will get preliminary word today about whether their capital plans were approved. Bank executives are concerned that investors could be confused and are considering whether securities laws may require prompt disclosure of their plans for dividends and share repurchases, the people said. Paulson Gold Fund Down 18% as Metal’s Slump Foils Rebound (Bloomberg) John Paulson posted an 18 percent decline in his Gold Fund last month as a slump in the metal, after more than a decade of gains, undermined efforts by the billionaire hedge-fund manager to rebound from two years of losses in some strategies. The $900 million Gold Fund, which invests in bullion- related equities and derivatives, is down 26 percent this year, Paulson & Co. said yesterday in a client update obtained by Bloomberg News. The firm’s Advantage funds also fell in February after the metal and related stocks weakened as signs of economic optimism curbed gold demand. “Despite the volatility and drawdown of our gold equity positions, we believe in the long-term outlook for these positions as quantitative easing programs continue around the world, credit expands in the United States, and gold equities continue to trade at a significant discount” to historical average valuations, the hedge fund said in a letter sent yesterday to investors, which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Carl Icahn Rachets Up Dell Fight (WSJ) In a letter released by Dell Thursday, Mr. Icahn said he has a "substantial" position in the company, and asked Dell to pay a per-share dividend of $9 if the deal is voted down by shareholders. He said that by his calculations, that transaction would be superior to the current going-private offer, citing a "stub" value of $13.81 a share which, combined with the special dividend, represents a 67% premium to the current $13.65 per-share offer price. Dell 'Welcomes' Carl Icahn to Go-Shop Process (CNBC) Dell on Thursday said it welcomed Carl Icahn, who has built up a 100 million share stake in the company, and other interested parties as the computer maker seeks to go private. The special committee appointed by the board said it was conducting a "robust go-shop process" and was looking at other alternatives after a $24.4 billion buyout led by founder Michael Dell faced opposition from some shareholders. Bad-News Bears Crash The Party (WSJ) For all their conviction, the bears realize it may be awhile before their dark predictions come true. "Unfortunately, I am bearish and I have been wrong," said Samer Nsouli, chief investment officer at Lyford Group International, a hedge fund, who argues that recent weakness in copper and oil is a portent of a global slowdown. "Make no mistake, it will end in tears. The eternal question is when." Lions Maul Two To Death In Kariba (Herald) Two people were yesterday mauled to death by lions in Mahombekombe suburb in the resort town of Kariba. Sources say the man only identified as Musinje and the woman Sharai Mawera, were attacked while spending time in a bushy area with the man managing to escape, leaving the woman behind. The man went on to report the case to police who, with the assistance of officers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, went in search of the lions. During the search they found an arm belonging to a man with investigations pointing to the lions having made a kill the previous night. That, the sources say, could have been the reason the lions did not completely eat the woman. BofA Times An Options Trade Well (WSJ) Bank of America's trading desk last June purchased options to buy 150,000 shares of Constellation Brands, an aggressive wager that the wine-and-beer seller's shares would rise, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of options-market data and of quarterly regulatory filings made by institutional investors. The trade helped push the volume in thinly traded Constellation options that day to more than 13 times the previous 30 days' daily average, the options data show. A week later, Constellation announced a pact to buy a Mexican beer maker out of a joint venture that imports Corona Extra and other beers into the U.S. market. Bank of America led a duo of banks that financed the $1.85 billion deal. Constellation shares soared 24% on June 29, the day the deal was made public, and Bank of America generated an estimated paper profit of more than $1 million from the options trading, the options-market data indicate. China Imitates Singer (NYP) Paul Singer’s battle with Argentina over defaulted debt is beginning to ripple through the bond world. Creditors looking to force deadbeat countries to pay up are turning to the controversial legal argument Singer used to press his case against the South American country in the US courts. On Monday, China’s Ex-Im Bank, which has an unpaid judgment worth $32 million against Grenada, sued the tiny Caribbean country in New York federal court to get its money back. China wheeled out the same “equal treatment” argument that Singer’s Elliott Management used against Argentina, and which was recently upheld at the appeals level for the first time in the US. China’s move marks the first time a creditor other than Singer and his cohorts have tested the maneuver in the US. Obama Tries Charm Offensive to Woo Republicans on Deficit (Bloomberg) The president broke bread last night with a dozen Republican senators, hosting a dinner at a luxury Washington hotel near the White House. Next week, he’ll visit Capitol Hill to meet separately with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. Obama has also spoken by telephone with at least a half- dozen Republican lawmakers over the past few days about the budget and other priorities of his second term, including a rewrite of immigration laws and controlling gun violence. “There have been some problems, but we’re all adults and you just have to put the country ahead of party and you’ll be fine,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped organize the dinner, said before the meal. The increased outreach marks a shift in strategy for the White House, amid signs the president’s poll numbers are falling after he and Republicans were unable to avert the across-the- board spending cuts that took effect March 1. Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Fall to a Six-Week Low (Bloomberg) First-time jobless claims unexpectedly fell by 7,000 to 340,000 in the week ended March 2, the lowest since the period ended Jan. 19, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 355,000. The four-week average dropped to a five-year low. JC Penney Board Can’t Be 'Delusional': Ex-CEO (CNBC) Former JC Penney CEO Allen Questrom told CNBC on Wednesday that the company's board of directors is wrong in thinking the struggling retailer can change its fortunes under current boss Ron Johnson. "The board has to take action. They can't be delusional like Ron Johnson is," Questrom said on "Fast Money Halftime Report." "This has been going on long enough. You can't say you're going to make your numbers for the year and then drop a billion dollars." Questrom, who has watched from afar as Penney's sales and stock have suffered, told CNBC that directors needed to act quickly. "If they think if it all of a sudden going to turn itself around, there is no way they can have reliable information – because Ron is not a source for that," he said. "The sooner they act, the better." 1 in 10 Yale students have engaged in prostitution, 3% have had sex with an animal (NYDN) Sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt hosted the sex workshop session where around 55 students used their cellphones to answer questions about sex. The results were then published in real time on a screen. McDevitt, who also owns the Feminique sex store in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said the results showed "you can't have assumptions about people's backgrounds." Student Giuliana Berry, who hosted the event, told Campus Reform the workshop - part of Yale's Sex Weekend - aimed to increase understanding and compassion for people who indulged in "fringe sexual practices."

powell

Opening Bell: 5.13.20

More money, (for) more (pandemic) problems; more negative oil prices; more power to Paul Singer; more steps for Tesla; more strip club bailouts; and more generally!