Tag Archive | "Politics"

George Bush Tells Hedge Fund Community What He Was Eating When He Got The Call About Osama

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“I was eating souffle at Rise Restaurant with Laura and two buddies,” Bush said on Wednesday at the SALT Conference in Vegas, when asked what he was doing when he received the call from President Obama. “I excused myself and went home to take the call,” Bush said. “Obama simply said ‘Osama Bin Laden is dead.’” [ABC]



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Opening Bell: 05.13.11

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SEC Eyes Charges For Bond Players (WSJ)
Securities and Exchange Commission officials are pushing hard as part of their ongoing probe of collateralized debt obligations and other mortgage-related products developed by Wall Street to bring charges against individuals, such as executives involved in selling the deals or outsiders who managed the assets, these people said. While the situation remains fluid, the agency also could file civil charges against hedge-fund managers who helped structure certain mortgage-bond deals but then bet against them.

U.S. bank failure costs to exceed estimates by $2 billion (Reuters)
The FDIC’s 2010 loss estimate for bank failures rose to $24.18 billion at year’s end, up from initial estimates of $22.17 billion. The bank regulator increased the loss estimate for 102 out of 157 banks that failed in 2010, according to SNL Financial.

Brevan Howard, Jamison Hedge Funds Said to Advance During Commodities Rout (Bloomberg)
The Brevan Howard Commodities Strategies Master Fund Ltd., which managed $368 million as of March 31, gained 1.1 percent in the first week of May, an investor report obtained by Bloomberg showed. Jamison’s Koppenberg Macro Commodity Fund Ltd., which manages more than $600 million, advanced about 4 percent, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter, declining to be identified because the information is private.

Germany and France Surprise With Strong Growth (NYT)
The euro area’s two largest economies, Germany and France, showed surprising strength in the first quarter of the year, helping lift the entire continent’s performance despite sharp pain along the edges. As a result, the European Commission said in its spring forecast, released Friday, that prospects for 2011 looked “slightly better” than six months ago.

Greece Default Anticipated by 85% in Investor Poll (Bloomberg)
Eighty-five percent of those surveyed this week said Greece probably will default, with majorities predicting the same fate for Portugal and Ireland, which followed Greece in seeking European Union-led bailouts, a new Bloomberg Global Poll shows. The outlook for all three countries deteriorated since January.

Goldman’s O’Neill Says ‘Black Swan’ Concern Overblown, Stocks Set to Rally (Bloomberg)
The view that “the West is in trouble” is wrong when nations including Germany, Sweden, Australia and Canada are performing strongly, O’Neill said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Hong Kong, recorded yesterday and broadcast today. Investors should “stop worrying so much,” said O’Neill, known for coining the BRIC acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China…“Every little problem that crops up somewhere in the world is not going to create another black swan,” he said, adding that “there’s far too much conservatism,” in terms of investors holding cash.

Rajaratnam Loss Raises Questions Over Defense Strategy (WSJ)
Mr. Dowd’s closing argument was one of many components of Mr. Rajaratnam’s ultimately failed defense strategy. Many moves by the defense team and Mr. Rajaratnam are now likely to be evaluated, including the selection of a largely working-class jury in a case involving a billionaire, his choice not to take the stand, Mr. Dowd’s often-combative style, and the overarching attempt to convince jurors that the hedge-fund titan only relied on publicly available information in the face of recordings to the contrary.

Rand Paul says people who support universal healthcare ‘believe in slavery’ (LA Times)
Rand Paul, the freshman senator from Kentucky, was speaking recently about healthcare, specifically the new healthcare law some refer to as “Obamacare.”  Like many Republicans, Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), doesn’t like it. Unlike many conservatives, the “tea party” darling doesn’t like the law  because it reminds him of slavery.

China Fund Confident of Getting More Cash (WSJ)
China Investment Corp. is making progress toward getting fresh funds, one of its top officials said, addressing uncertainty about the future of the sovereign-wealth fund, which faces critical scrutiny over its performance after investing all of its initial $200 billion.

Crédit Agricole doubles profits to €1bn (FT)
Crédit Agricole’s quarterly net profit rose to €1.0bn ($1.42bn) from €470m a year ago, which was higher than average analyst expectations of about €992.5m, according to a Reuters poll.

I.R.S. Moves to Tax Gifts to Groups Active in Politics (NYT)
Invoking a provision that had rarely, if ever, been enforced, the Internal Revenue Service said it had sent letters to five donors, who were not identified, informing them that their contributions may be subject to gift taxes depending on whether the donations exceeded limits under the tax laws.

1 in 3 young NYers plans to leave state (AP via NYP)
A recent poll finds that 1 in 3 New Yorkers under age 30 plans to move to another state at some point…The poll finds that most of those who plan to move will do so because of economic reasons including jobs, the cost of living, and taxes.

‘Fair Value’ Accounting Guidelines Tweaked (WSJ)
Perhaps the most significant changes affect companies’ disclosures about their “Level 3″ assets, which are the risky, illiquid securities valued using a company’s own estimates and models rather than market prices. Companies will have to disclose more about the processes and assumptions they use in their Level 3 valuations. They will also have to discuss what might happen to the company’s valuations if the factors they are using were to change.

Ashton Kutcher Will Join ‘Two and a Half Men’ (Hollywood Reporter)
Two sources close to the deal-making tell The Hollywood Reporter that the actor is putting the final touches on a deal to replace Charlie Sheen as the star of TV’s No. 1 comedy.



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Matt Taibbi Now Resorting To Calling Goldman Sachs Fat

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Defenders of Goldman have been quick to insist that while the bank may have had a few ethical slips here and there, its only real offense was being too good at making money. We now know, unequivocally, that this is bullshit. Goldman isn’t a pudgy housewife who broke her diet with a few Nilla Wafers between meals — it’s an advanced-stage, 1,100-pound medical emergency who hasn’t left his apartment in six years, and is found by paramedics buried up to his eyes in cupcake wrappers and pizza boxes. [Rolling Stone]



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Eavesdropping In: Thai Lesbian Chic; L.A. Cracks Down On Unpaid Parking Tickets; White House Releases Obama’s Long-Form Birth Certificate, Donald…

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  • Holy Lilith Fair, Lesbian Chic is all the rage in Thailand. [HuffPo]
  • Hey scofflaws, L.A. is “cracking down” on all of you with unpaid parking tickets after realizing it is missing $15 million in potential revenue from your unpaid fines. [KTLA]
  • In a move to appease birthers, the White House releases President Obama’s long-form birth certificate and lo and behold, he is in fact a native-born citizen. [LATimes]
  • Donald Trump wants you to know that he is honored to have “played such a big role” in the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate. [TMZ]
  • 50 Cent expands his empire, launches his own comedy site that will feature his own comedy show. Tyler Perry, you’ve been warned. [PE]

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Now That He Singlehandedly Got Obama To Release His Birth Certificate, Donald Trump Wants To Get Back To The Real Issues

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“I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue,” Trump told reporters, his helicopter sitting behind him. He said he still wants to see the birth certificate, released while he was en route to New Hampshire, but now wants to talk about weightier issues such as oil prices. [ABC]



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To The Untrained Eye, Donald Trump Might Appear To Be Good With Money, But Wall Street Insiders Are On To Him

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Earlier this evening, I had the opportunity to get the unvarnished thoughts of a former Deutsche Bank employee familiar with Trump from this $640-million deal gone awry on the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. Trump was sued to collect on a $40-million personal guarantee that was part of the deal. Suffice it to say, the banker held a dim view of the Donald. “[The Chicago deal] was pretty minor given all the other things going on at the time. Real estate developers do default from time to time,” he said. “But this guy has been doing it for 20 years, failing. Remember the Trump Shuttle? That’s why he’ll never run. His finances just won’t hold up to scrutiny. It’s pretty well known in financial circles that this guy is a deadbeat.” [The Atlantic]



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Would Matt Taibbi Have Been Less Angry About John Mack’s Wife’s TALF Fund If The Former Morgan Stanley CEO Waxed His Eyebrows?

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A passage from his latest screed implies as much.

The Macks make for an interesting couple. John, a Lebanese-American nicknamed “Mack the Knife” for his legendary passion for firing people, has one of the most recognizable faces on Wall Street, physically resembling a crumpled, half-burned baked potato with a pair of overturned furry horseshoes for eyebrows. Christy is thin, blond and rich — a sort of still-awake Sunny von Bulow with hobbies. Her major philanthropic passion is endowments for alternative medicine, and she has attained the level of master at Reiki, the Japanese practice of “palm healing.” The only other notable fact on her public résumé is that her sister was married to Charlie Rose. It’s hard to imagine a pair of people you would less want to hand a giant welfare check to — yet that’s exactly what the Fed did.

Real Housewives Of Wall Street [Rolling Stone via BI]

Earlier: John Mack Not The Only Money Maker In The Fam



Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 03.25.11

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Rajaratnam’s Wiretapped Call With Brother Bolsters Insider Case (Bloomberg)
And in testimony earlier this week, Goel said that Rajaratnam told him in 2003 that Rajaratnam had given BMW cars to two women in Intel’s sales department who leaked information to him. Lynam asked Goel if he thought Rajaratnam was joking. “I don’t think that was a joke, sir,” he responded. Wasn’t Rajaratnam kidding when he told Goel in a wiretapped conversation that he would kiss Goel on the cheek the next time he saw him? Lynam later asked. “I hope he was,” said Goel, to laughter in the courtroom. “If not, I had him figured out all wrong.”

Economy Grows 3.1%, Aided By Surge in Corporate Profits (Reuters)
Gross domestic product growth was revised up to an annualized rate of 3.1 percent, the Commerce Department said in its final estimate, close to its initial estimate of 3.2 percent published two months ago and up from its tally of 2.8 percent made in February.

Barclays Said to Be Investigated by Regulators in Libor Probe (Bloomberg)
U.S. and U.K. regulators are examining if communications between Barclays’s traders and its treasury broke regulations that stop information being shared across the bank.

S&P Warns Big Banks About ‘Excessive’ Dividends (NYT)
The credit rating agency said in a report that it “remains wary of banks aggressively increasing capital returns to shareholders at this juncture of the economic recovery.” S.&.P. indicated it might downgrade credit ratings at banks that made “excessive” payouts to investors.

Goldman Slides to 10th Spot in US M&A Rankings (Reuters)
Goldman advised on $71 billion worth of U.S. deals in the first quarter, far less than JPMorgan’s chart-topping $170 billion, and even lower than much smaller banks such as Rothschild, Evercore Partners and Lazard.

China-Focused Hedge Fund Assets Rise Despite Laggard Performance (DJ)
China funds added $3.5 billion in assets in 2010 to a total $18.68 billion, even as their 6.11% gains were short of the global industry average of 10.55%.

Warren Says Consumer Bureau Foes Should Look at Bank ‘Behemoths’ (Bloomberg)
“If we’re going to go out there and spill ink on accountability, we should also ask about how to hold powerful financial institutions accountable,” Warren said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “The idea that we should be worried that some agency that will speak up for consumers might get a little too loud is looking in the wrong direction.”

Bernanke To Hold Press Conferences 4 Times A Year (WSJ)
“The introduction of regular press briefings is intended to further enhance the clarity and timeliness of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy communication,” the Fed said.

Spain’s Bank Rescue Hits Headwinds (WSJ)
Eight of Spain’s cajas must present their capital-raising plans to regulators by April 10. That has caused a flurry of activity in recent weeks as savings banks sounded out hedge funds and private-equity funds and others pursued initial public offerings. But the exercise has stirred questions from investors about the level of reserves that the banks hold against real-estate risk in their portfolios. The banks also have faced questions over whether their executives have distanced themselves sufficiently from local politics; in some cases, they have even been quizzed about managements’ own understanding of what is on their books. In general, “people don’t understand what they are buying,” said a Spanish banker who has tried to get investors interested in the cajas.

Reactor Core May Be Breached at Damaged Fukushima Plant (Bloomberg)
“It’s very possible that there has been some kind of leak at the No. 3 reactor,” Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman at the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said in Tokyo today. While radioactive water at the unit most likely escaped from the reactor core, it also could have originated from spent fuel pools stored atop the reactor, he said.

Fed Mulls Auction For AIG Bonds (WSJ)
The Federal Reserve is considering an auction for a large portfolio of subprime-mortgage bonds and is consulting with BlackRock Inc. about the process, according to people familiar with the matter.



Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

AOL: UBS Says Buy, Ad CPMs Looking Strong

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Following reports yesterday that AOL (AOL) will be consolidating several media properties, UBS Securities analyst Brian Pitz this morning raised his rating on the shares to Buy from Neutral, with a $25 price target, arguing that the company stands to gain from “stabilization” and “monetization.”

AOL shares today are up 64 cents, or 3.4%, at $19.61.

AOL’s effort on display ads, dubbed “Project Devil,” appear to be getting higher-than-average CPMs, at about $30, writes Pitz. That should allow the company to show ad revenue growth “in the low teens” on a percentage basis in the second half of this year, about in line with online ad trends broadly, which would off-set continued declines in its dialup subscriber business, he thinks.

Also, he thinks, there’s a chance AOL’s ad formats will become an industry standard, given that they appear to have the blessing of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The current stock price likely reflects little of the advertising and content businesses’ value, Pitz thinks: $14 can be attributed to the subscriber business alone, based on his discounted cash flow model, with another $4 in cash per share.

AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher had previewed the changes to AOL’s content properties in a post yesterday, noting that sites such as Politics Daily will cease to exist as standalone brands.

The content consolidation comes after reports last week AOL intends to cut a fifth of its workforce.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Trump: The US Should Be Renting Land To Gadhafi And Then Reneging On The Deal

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As you may have heard, Donald Trump has been mulling a run for president, which he says he’ll make a final decision on by June. In the meantime, he’s been putting his credentials out there, in case anyone thinks he’s not the right guy for the job. In terms of dealing with foreign leaders and dignitaries, The Don says his experience cannot be beat (and should he turn down the president gig, feel free to offer him Secretary of State, a position for which he’s also eminently qualified). “I sell them real estate for tremendous amounts of money,” he said. “I mean, I’ve dealt with everybody.” To that end, a quick story to illustrate why you should vote Trump.

As he tells it, not too long ago, Trump brokered a deal with a guy who’s been getting a lot of press lately.

“I rented [Gadhafi] a piece of land. He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land,” Trump boasted. “That’s what we should be doing. I don’t want to use the word ‘screwed’, but I screwed him.”

The land in question was some space in Bedford, NY, where Gadhafi wanted to pitch a tent for one night while he was in town giving a speech at the UN. Of course, at the time, Trump apparently didn’t even know Gadhafi was the guy renting the space, but those are just details and of little import. Mr. President!

I ‘Screwed’ Gadhafi [PoliticalTicker via BI]



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