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Airbnb Rebuffs Approach From Bill Ackman’s SPAC [Bloomberg]
Airbnb hasn’t completely ruled out a merger with Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd., although no discussions are currently underway, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. Early stage discussions broke off when Airbnb filed confidentially for an IPO last month…. “Uncertainty is the enemy of the IPO and the friend of a $5 billion SPAC with the largest amount of committed capital,” [Ackman] said.

U.S. Debt Is Set to Exceed Size of the Economy Next Year, a First Since World War II [WSJ]
The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that federal debt held by the public is projected to reach or exceed 100% of U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of U.S. economic output, in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. That would put the U.S. in the company of a handful of nations with debt loads that exceed their economies, including Japan, Italy and Greece…. The surge in borrowing so far isn’t creating angst among investors or hampering the U.S.’s ability to borrow more.

Tesla shares fall as largest outside shareholder cuts holding, citing portfolio restrictions [CNBC]
A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday showed that the U.K.-based fund group now owns less than 5% of Tesla, down from 6.32%, according to data from FactSet…. “The substantial increase in Tesla’s share price means that we needed to reduce our holding in order to reflect concentration guidelines which restrict the weight of a single stock in clients’ portfolios,” Baillie Gifford’s James Anderson said in a statement.

Big Gains in Black-Owned Businesses From Juneteenth Investments Prove Fleeting [WSJ]
Some of the biggest advances were in shares of two Black banks: Broadway Financial Corp. and Carver Bancorp Inc. In the week of June 15, prices of the two banks soared 151% and 513%, respectively. Trading became so volatile shares in the two banks were halted briefly by Nasdaq on Juneteenth, which is celebrated June 19.
The surge didn’t last…. “We’re in a climate where we’re beginning to recognize our influence and valuation of the Black dollar,” he said. “Only makes sense to see a Black-owned bank rise as well.”

Vanguard opposes this Wall Street tax its founder John Bogle favored — and that says a lot about mutual funds today [MarketWatch]
It now assumes the impact of the FTT on an active equity fund will be not 1.09%, but 0.075% — about 1/15th as much as Vanguard’s previous assumption. In other words, Vanguard revised its estimate of the annual cost of the tax to the average investor downward by a factor of 15….
Why does Vanguard persist in exaggerating the impact of a proposed financial transaction tax on the average (“Main Street”) investor?... With a FTT in place, most high-frequency trading is likely to be eliminated; and the cost to Main Street investors in mutual funds and pension funds will be mitigated. But Vanguard’s compatriots in this fight (not Bogle’s, when he was still alive) stand to lose from the FTT — even if Vanguard itself does not.

Anthony Scaramucci hired Trump’s former body man for political consulting as feud with president grew [CNBC]
John McEntee, the former personal assistant who was let go in 2018 after reportedly being denied a security clearance, went to work for SkyBridge, the vocal Trump critic’s hedge fund, during his hiatus from the White House, according to a financial disclosure report and people with direct knowledge of the matter…. McEntee returned to the White House this year and later became head of the Office of Presidential Personnel…. Scaramucci, who was previously a staunch Trump supporter, began to blast the president in August 2019, while McEntee was working for the firm. 

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Opening Bell: 6.12.20

The roller coaster rolls on; Ackman, Loeb raising money; M&A and IPOs; and more!

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Opening Bell: 11.19.20

A SPAC-tacular scam; funding for Christmas; AQR’s crash diet; negative rates in China; and more!

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Opening Bell: 5.11.20

No negative rates; no joy for private equity in retail; no PPP money for restaurants that don’t exist; no privacy at work anymore; no ice cream for you; and more!

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Opening Bell: 1.6.21

Trump tries again; Hank Paulson’s back; Jack Ma never went away; Bill Ackman tweets “genocide;” and more!

By World Economic Forum (Flickr: The Global Financial Context: James Dimon) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Opening Bell: 10.13.21

JPMorgan jumps; Biden bears down on bitcoin; fintech’s colorblind—bankers, not so much; Jack Ma’s not-so-triumphant return to Hong Kong; and more!

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Opening Bell: 6.27.17

More on the Biden-Ackman affair: “If I could, I’d punch you in the face”; Europe demands Google pony up $2.4 billion; Uber for poop; and more.

Opening Bell: 04.23.12

IMF And World Bank Meetings End With Little Agreement (NYT) To be sure, the additional $430 billion in lending capacity contributed by developed economies like Japan, Britain, Saudi Arabia and South Korea was seen as a major achievement. The contributions came after I.M.F. economists determined that countries around the world might require up to $1 trillion in new loans because of the combined effects of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and sluggish global economic growth. The I.M.F. agreed to raise about half that amount if Europe would raise the other half. But finance ministers are still at odds over the effect of debt reduction on economic growth. Geithner urges 'aggressive' action to fight financial crisis (DowJones) US Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner said Saturday that the eurozone needed stronger action from authorities, including the European Central Bank, to tame a potential deterioration in the debt crisis. "The success of the next phase of the crisis response will hinge on Europe's willingness and ability, together with the European Central Bank, to apply its tools and processes creatively, flexibly and aggressively to support countries as they implement reforms and stay ahead of markets," Geithner told the International Monetary Fund's policy steering committee. Hedge Fund Short-Sellers to Target Wal-Mart Mexico (Reuters) Hedge fund managers are bracing for selling pressure in shares of Wal-Mart Stores on Monday, but market experts said it is the retail giant's less visible Mexican unit that could be the more attractive target for short sellers. The New York Times reported on Saturday that Wal-Mart de Mexico, which is 69 percent owned by Wal-Mart Stories, had orchestrated a widespread bribery campaign in 2005 to win market dominance. The investigative article alleged that senior Wal-Mart executives knew about the matter and tried to cover it up. "I would not consider Wal-Mart shares expensive, but I definitely would not be a buyer at these levels in the 60s. I'm more interested in shorting the Mexico traded 'pure play,'" said private activist investor Daniel Yu, who has presciently shorted such stocks including Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Sino-Forest. Wal-Mart said in a statement on Saturday that it was "deeply concerned" about the allegations in the Times report and began an investigation into its compliance with anti-bribery laws last autumn. MF Global Customers Press JPMorgan For Funds (WSJ) In a letter set to be sent to regulators and lawmakers on Monday, an MF Global customer group calls for J.P. Morgan to "return hundreds of millions of dollars in MF Global customer funds transferred" to J.P. Morgan in late October. The group, called the Commodity Customer Coalition, urged U.S. officials to "demand" that the New York bank "disgorge all MF Global customer property immediately." J.P. Morgan is cooperating with the ongoing investigation, has said it did nothing wrong and lost some of its own money in the Oct. 31 bankruptcy because it was a creditor of MF Global. Vietnam Funds Beat India, China in Attracting Investors (Bloomberg) Vietnam-focused stock funds became the only emerging market equity assets in Asia to lure investors every week this year as the nation’s benchmark index rose to an 11-month high, Emerging Portfolio Fund Research said. Table Hockey, on Ice Since Heyday in 1970s, Makes a Comeback (WSJ) Carter Campbell leaned over the stick-figure hockey players, loosening up his wrists and hopping from one foot to the other. The 14-year-old's cap was turned around. His iPod blared tunes from the classic-rock band Rush. Across from him, 35-year-old, No. 1 ranked table hockey champ Mark Sokolski hunched over his own players. "I'm gonna stomp this kid," Mr. Sokolski said. At stake was a slot in the elite eight of this year's Canadian Table Hockey Championships, the best-attended North American tournament that the game has seen in decades. Across the U.S. and Canada, a resurgence of table hockey is under way, drawing younger players and women to a sport that has long been the domain of older men in their basements reliving a game that hasn't been popular since they were kids. Global Crisis Not Over, China Reforms to Go On: Wen (Reuters) The global financial crisis is not over and technical innovation and investment will be key to sustaining what remains a "tortuous" recovery, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Sunday during a visit to Germany. Wen also said China, the world's biggest exporter and second largest economy, would press on with reforms aimed at creating better legal protection for foreign investors — a major concern for the growing number of German firms active in the country. Buffett Joined by 12 Families Pledging Wealth to Charity (Bloomberg) Twelve families promised to donate most of their wealth to philanthropy, joining the Giving Pledge initiative started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. The families include hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman and his wife Karen, Tesla Motors Inc.’s billionaire owner Elon Musk and film producer Steve Bing, according to an e-mailed statement from the initiative. Arthur M. Blank, Edgar M. Bronfman, Glenn and Eva Dubin, Red and Charline McCombs, Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman, John and Ginger Sall, Henry and Susan Samueli, John A. and Susan Sobrato, John Michael Sobrato, and Ted and Vada Stanley also signed the pledge. Aiming for Clarity, Fed Still Falls Short in Some Eyes (NYT) But as Mr. Bernanke prepares to meet the press for the fifth time Wednesday afternoon, after a scheduled meeting of the Fed’s policy-making committee on Tuesday and Wednesday, there are reasons to doubt that the efforts are increasing public understanding of monetary policy. Experts and investors have continued to disagree about the plain meaning of the Fed’s recent policy statements. Some say the increased volume of communication is creating cacophony rather than clarity. Political criticism of the Fed has continued unabated. Man's nightmare since NYPD labeled him ‘Gentleman Groper’ (NYP) A citywide manhunt ensued after four Manhattan women were fondled in tony neighborhoods in a 35-day stretch. On April 13, authorities paraded their main suspect past snapping cameras. He defied the conventional image of a creepy perv. He was young, handsome, well-dressed, affluent, educated, a churchgoer. A gentleman groper. That suspect, Karl Vanderwoude, says if the scene seemed implausible — that’s because it was. “I didn’t do it. I wasn’t even in the vicinity of these incidents,” he said in his first interview since his arrest. “It’s a case of mistaken identity.” The 26-year-old Bible-study leader’s nightmare began 10 days ago, when he left early from his job as an operations coordinator at a Flatiron District private equity firm because he felt sick. He was in his Park Slope apartment for about an hour when the doorbell rang. “I thought it was my roommate who had been locked out and forgot his keys, which has happened, so I go to answer the door,” he recalled. Instead, two NYPD detectives were standing in the threshold. “They’re like, ‘Are you Karl? May we speak with you?’"

Opening Bell: 2.1.16

Hedge funds vs Yuan; IPO market on ice; Activists hit the skids; 'Couple marries seconds after meeting for the first time in airport, started dating a year ago on social media'; and more.