Tag Archive | "house"

Write-Offs: 05.31.11

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$$$ House Prices Fall to New Post-Bubble Low as More Rent (NYT)

$$$ Consumer confidence drops in May (Reuters)

$$$ House Set to Reject Debt Ceiling Hike Democrats Dismiss as “Political Charade” (ABC)

$$$ Bernie Madoff Is Ruining Divorces Now, Too (Daily Intel)

$$$ Obama names Bryson as commerce chief (WaPo)

$$$ Primary Global Shuts Offices, but Says It’s Still Open (Dealbook)

$$$ Spain Cuts Budget Deficit in Half (WSJ)

$$$ Goldman shares climb on JPMorgan upgrade (Reuters)

$$$ Ex-Galleon trader presents no defense at NY trial (Reuters)

$$$ A Securities and Exchange Commission worker gave investors false and misleading information about an alleged Ponzi scheme that could have hindered investigation of a fraud in which he also was a victim, the agency’s watchdog said. The employee, based at SEC headquarters in Washington, shared nonpublic information with several investors during the SEC’s investigation and litigation of the case, SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz said in his semiannual report to Congress released today. The report didn’t identify either the SEC employee or the firm accused of conducting the fraud. Kotz opened his probe in February after a senior official said the employee had contacted fellow investors and told them that the company was legitimate and that investors “would be receiving considerable sums of money,” according to the report. (Bloomberg)

$$$ Falcone Venture Said Weighing Deal With AT&T (Bloomberg)

$$$ RBS moves to tap into Chinese IPO market (FT)

$$$ Muni-Bond Group Bans Dual Adviser-Underwriter Roles (WSJ)

$$$ Asian Markets Draw Private-Equity Sales (WSJ)

$$$ Buyout Firms Morphing Into Asset Managers as Takeovers Dwindle (Bloomberg)

$$$ Lehman Presses Big Banks on Derivatives Settlement (WSJ)

$$$ Is bond trading dying? (Reuters)

$$$ Apple’s Jobs to Unveil iCloud Service (WSJ)

$$$ Japan pensioners volunteer to tackle nuclear crisis (BBC)

$$$ Sarah Palin, Donald Trump To Meet In New York City Tuesday Night (ABC)

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

RIM: WashPo Describes Gov’t Switch To iPads, GMail

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The Washington Post’s Michael Rosenwald this morning pens an interesting piece about how the federal government, under CIO Vivek Kundra, is letting more and more government workers choose their own gadgets of choice, rather than impose on them use of government-specified devices.

Although a number of anecdotes come up in the piece about Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and iPad, and Google’s (GOOG) Gmail, the article is titled, somewhat more pointedly, “Federal government loosens its grip on the BlackBerry,” meaning, of course, the traditional use of Research in Motion (RIMM) messaging devices.

In part, it’s simply the “consumerization of IT,” as many have identified, and as Kundra maintains, but it’s also RIM’s failure to win third-party developers with a “flexible” software platform, Rosenwald writes.

Rosenwald cites several instances of switchover:

At [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms], there are about 50 iPads or iPhones in use, and the number could increase to 100 soon. At the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the 1,000 BlackBerrys used last year have dropped to about 700 as workers picked other smartphones. The State Department is testing iPads. Congress now allows iPads and iPhones on the House floor. And the Department of Veterans Affairs is getting ready to allow its clinicians to choose an iPad or iPhone instead of a BlackBerry.

Update: In a note to clients today, Mike Abramsky with RBC Capital Markets, who maintains a Sector Perform rating on RIMM and a $53.45 price target, argues that RIMM will hold onto some clients who prize security above all. Reflecting on the Wash Po article, he writes,

While these developments offer headline risk to valuation and may continue to pressure RIM’s share in the US, BlackBerries are unlikely to lose favor with higher-risk users, as security remains a high priority following recent high profile security breaches and privacy concerns (Lockheed Martin’s secure VPN network was recently hacked, which could slow Android/Apple deployment in regulated industries like banks and the government. The U.S. Senate recently focused on mobile privacy concerns; House oversight committee chair Darrell Issa raised concerns White House employees could circumvent federal record-keeping laws by using iPhone and iPads.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Geithner: Another Crisis Is Coming But It’s Not Anything You Need Worry About Now

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According to the Treasury Secretary, “There will be another storm…but it’s not going to come for a while.” In fact, in order to calm any fears you might have, TG has come up with a whole bunch of stuff that will happen before the next then including but not limited to: 1) the Geithners will finally sell their house 2) the Treasury will unwind its positions in GM and AIG at a profit 3) Tim will emerge victorious from his rematch with those Chinese school children. [TDB]

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Talk To John Boehner About The Debt Ceiling/Spending Cuts When You’re Ready To Use The ‘T’ Word

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Boehner wants to be “talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.”

Speaker John Boehner will call on Congress to offset a debt ceiling hike with spending cuts of a greater amount, an ambitious proposal that puts House Republicans on a collision course with Democrats who want much more modest spending restrictions attached to the vote. “Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase,” Boehner plans to tell the Economic Club of New York here this evening, according to remarks obtained by POLITICO. “And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given. We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.”

Under Boehner’s vision, for example, Republicans would have to find more than $2 trillion in cuts if they wanted to raise the debt ceiling by that amount through 2012 — which is in line with Treasury’s estimates on the debt limit. But Republicans could also go for a more incremental increase in the debt ceiling, coupling that with a smaller offsetting cut in spending. Boehner’s preference is for immediate cuts, not promises to pare back spending in the future.


Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

What To Expect When You’re Expecting Your Spouse To Get Nailed By The Feds

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Have you been suspecting that your husband or wife may have involved him or herself in some insider trading? Are you worried that the Feds may know too? While there’s not much you can do short of getting out of town or finding a safe house and laying low, you can arm yourself with the knowledge of what’s in store and mentally prepare accordingly.

Today’s tips come from Arlene Drimal, wife of accused insider trader Craig Drimal. Craig, who segued from a job as a bouncer at The Roxy to a gig at Galleon several years back, pleaded guilty to securities fraud yesterday. The FBI used wiretaps to catch him in the act, and while they were there, couldn’t help but listen in on some “deeply personal and intimate discussion about [the Drimal's] marriage,” including “intimate aspects of the relationship.” So, that’s Number 1: Government officials will be listening when you discuss spicing things up with the furry dice.

Number 2: Rudeness and ‘tude:

The FBI officials told Mr. Drimal they “had recorded his conversations for a very long time, that they knew ‘everything’ about him and his family and friends and mentioned other personal factors leaving the distinct impression that our phones were currently tapped,” Ms. Drimal wrote. The agents asked him to cooperate in their investigation and threatened to arrest him if he didn’t, she wrote, adding that they said he could spend 25 years in prison. The couple “went up to our bedroom to discuss how to ensure privacy,” as they discussed how to find a lawyer, Ms. Drimal wrote. “Feeling trapped, I recommended that we go to CVS [a drugstore] in Westport to buy a prepaid phone,” Ms. Drimal wrote. “Immediately after I said that, FBI agent, David Makol, called and asked to speak to my husband. He warned him not to go out and get a prepaid phone,” she wrote. “That terrified us and we felt panicked.”

Number 3: Late night visits:

On Nov. 2, 2009, Mr. Drimal met with agents and prosecutors asking for his cooperation, she wrote, which he declined to give. Three days later, the couple—along with their 11-year-old son, who had crawled into their bed during the night—was awakened by the lights, bullhorn and pounding on the door, Ms. Drimal wrote. “I hurried down to the front door … on which they were impatiently banging as they hollered,” she wrote, holding back their German shepherd and Staffordshire terrier. “As soon as I opened the door, numerous agents filed into the house,” she wrote. “I noticed some of them touched their weapons, eyeing the Staffordshire in particular. I stood there crying silently, barely dressed and attempting to cover my chest with my arms and assured them the dogs were friendly,” she wrote.

Number 4: PTSD and paranoia:

Ms. Drimal wrote that she has been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. She worries about her children, including a daughter who asked recently if her father’s legal troubles would affect her ability to get into law school or gain employment. “Just looking out my window in the morning when I wake up,” she wrote, “reminds me of that arrest and violations of my privacy every day.”

When The Feds Are Watching [WSJ]

Earlier: Federal Agents Couldn’t Help But Listen In On Weight Lifter Turned Accused Insider Trader Craig Drimal’s “Deeply Personal” Conversation With His Wife

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 04.27.11

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Barclays, Credit Suisse Post Lower Profits (BW)
Net income at Credit Suisse fell to 1.14 billion Swiss francs ($1.31 billion) from 2.06 billion francs in the year-earlier period, the Zurich-based bank today. That compares with the 1.32 billion-franc average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg…Barclays said today its first-quarter profit fell 5.2 percent to 1.01 billion pounds ($1.67 billion) as earnings at its Barclays Capital investment banking unit dropped 33 percent. Sales and trading revenue fell 17 percent from the year-earlier period.

Bernanke’s Code: A Guide To The Fed Chairman’s First Q&A (WSJ)
Balance sheet: Look for Mr. Bernanke to affirm that QE2 will end in the summer, as planned. Any deviation from that position would be major news. Listen for what Mr. Bernanke says about the future size of the balance sheet. In this new world of Fed policy, how many securities the central bank holds is the primary signal of how much support it is providing the economy; the Fed has injected more than $2 trillion into the economy since the financial crisis. It is considered unlikely, but if Mr. Bernanke hints the Fed may stop reinvesting the proceeds from its mortgage holdings, it will be seen as the first step toward actual monetary tightening. If Mr. Bernanke drops such a hint, expect the dollar to rally.

Fed’s ‘Extended Period’ May End In May 2011, Economists Say (Bloomberg)
Thirty-three of 44 economists surveyed said the central bank will remove the two-word phrase from its post-meeting statement in 2011, with 18 betting it will move by September. The Fed may wait until 2012 to announce sales of mortgage or Treasury securities it bought to reduce borrowing costs, with 26 respondents expecting a plan next year, according to the survey, conducted from April 20 to April 25.

Hedge Fund Pot Farmer Pleads Guilty (TB)
Tara A. Bryson, executive of Ridgefield-based New Stream Capital has plead guilty to drug possession charges. She was sentenced to one year in jail, which was suspended, and a year of probation. Bryson copped a last minute plea deal with the State of Connecticut. In return she had felony charges of conspiracy to cultivate a pot farm reduced to a misdemeanor–possession of a controlled substance under four ounces and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bryson’s arrest report shows Connecticut State police found over 203 marijuana plants in her million dollar Newtown home so the charges being subbed out from cultivation of marijuana to only possession less than four ounces appears to be a lucky break.

Banks Warn Obama On Soaring Debt (FT)
“Any delay in making an interest or principal payment by Treasury even for a very short period of time would put the US Treasury and overall financial markets in uncharted territory and could trigger another catastrophic financial crisis,” said Matthew Zames, a JPMorgan executive, in a letter to Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, this week.

Robot Stock Picker Beats Human Managers After Japan Quake (Bloomberg)
Six computer programs, making all the investment decisions for T&D Asset Management’s Kabu-Robo Fund, generated returns of 1.9 percent in March. The average actively traded fund that invests in Japan lost 6.9 percent during the month, according to Tokyo-based Rating and Investment Information Inc. The benchmark Nikkei 225 (NKY) Stock Average dropped 8.2 percent in the period. “People tend to go with the herd when there’s a panic,” said Kazuhiro Kunisada, chief executive officer of Trade Science Corp., which designed the programs for T&D’s Kabu-Robo Fund. “Robots just follow the rules.”

NYPD Admits It Provided Diddy With A Police Escort (NYP)
The NYPD admitted today that it provided Sean “Diddy” Combs with a police escort following a concert last week, a decision slammed by Mayor Bloomberg. “The bottom line is the police department should treat everybody exactly the same. If you don’t get a police escort, P. Diddy shouldn’t,” Bloomberg said.

Does Corporate America Kowtow To China? (Reuters)
“I don’t blame the Chinese, they’re just pursuing their national interest,” said Patrick Mulloy, a member of the Congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “I blame us for not realizing what’s happening to us and for doing nothing about it.”

White House Distributes Copies Of Obama’s Birth Certificate (BW)
Today’s release was made because “the president believes it was becoming a distraction,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said.

S&P’s Japan Outlook Goes Negative (WSJ)
In a statement Wednesday, the credit-rating firm said it estimated reconstruction costs owing to the quake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster at ¥20 trillion to ¥50 trillion ($245 billion to $613 billion), with a central forecast of ¥30 trillion.

PIMCO Says Greece Needs To Restructure Its Debt (Reuters)
“So far none of the solutions for the Greek debt crisis have worked. And a lot of people – including me – don’t believe that they will work in the future,” Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of PIMCO, wrote. Greece will need “a preferably voluntary and orderly restructuring” to relieve itself of its debt burden, the PIMCO CEO said.

I handed over £6.2m to gigolo out of love for him: Heiress tells how conman turned blackmailer (Daily Mail)
Married mother of three Ms Klatten, who is said to be worth more than £6 billion through holdings in car giants BMW and chemical firm Altana, fell for conman Helg Sgarbi, 46, after meeting him in a luxury hotel. The Swiss born former investment banker had told her he was a ‘special adviser for the Swiss government’ and fed her a string of lies, winning her over and within weeks they had become lovers. He wooed her with his charm but it later emerged that it was all part of an elaborate plot hatched by mystical faith healer Ernani Barretta, 63, whose trial began in Pescara today.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Former Goldman President John Thornton’s Greatest Motivational Hits

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For his new book about Goldman Sachs, Money and Power, William Cohan goes inside to figure out the Masters of the Universe’s secrets to success. Speaking to FINS recently, Cohan noted that the firm subscribes to a “work hard, work hard” mantra (as opposed to “work hard, play hard”) and that it goes to great lengths to nail the idea into employees’ heads that failure is not tolerated. For instance, former president John Thornton once mentioned, while pitching a potential client, “If we do not get this mandate, I will personally slit the throats of all my team and drink their blood.” This of course got us nostalgic enough to break into the GS archives for some other motivational quotes by Thornton, all of which, as was the case on the throat slitting deal, got the job done.

* May 12, 1986: “If we do not get this mandate, I will personally take a piss in the mouths of everyone on my team.”

* January 16, 1989: “This pitchbook looks like you took a crap or a dump in the printer. I should fire you and burn down your house. I am thisclose to raping you.”

* March 4, 1992: “[To no one in particular] I am a strong man! Anyone in this office take a run at me!”

* February 14, 1995: “If we do not get this mandate, I will make you dress up in your most expensive suit, lock you in a dark padded room and play Cher’s ‘Believe In Life After Love’ for 18 straight hours.”

* June 22, 1996 “[To a group of incoming analysts] If you so much as even entertain the though to taking a lunch break I will make you reenact the climactic scene from Jerry McGuire with your co workers- and no one leaves until it’s perfect!”

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Opening Bell: 04.13.11

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JPMorgan Profit Up 67% on Lower Credit Costs, Tops Estimate (Bloomberg)
First-quarter net income climbed to $5.56 billion, or $1.28 a share, from $3.33 billion, or 74 cents, in the same period a year earlier and from $4.83 billion, or $1.12, in the fourth quarter, the New York-based company said today in a statement. The results beat the average per-share estimate for adjusted earnings of $1.15 by 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Impatience Over Recovery At Morgan Stanley (Dealbook)
“You can only take so much pain,” said David P. Foley, an investment manager at Estabrook Capital Management, which as of Dec. 31 owned roughly 661,000 shares in Morgan Stanley, valued at almost $18 million. “We have to go to our clients and defend the stock, and invariably someone says, ‘Why do you still own this thing?’ Eventually, I am sure Morgan Stanley will turn around, but the firm has become harder and harder to defend because it still hasn’t turned the corner.”

Bernanke Urges Republicans To ‘Deal With Debt’ (Bloomberg)
“He said we have to deal with the debt,” Representative Steve Pearce, a Republican from New Mexico, said in an interview after leaving the session with the central bank chief on Capitol Hill. “So far the market seems to be forgiving of the fact that we haven’t,” Pearce said, adding that Bernanke told lawmakers that “we need to deal with it.”

Obama to Lay Out Deficit Plan, Focus on Tax, Spending (Reuters)
Obama will explain his vision for tackling the long-term U.S. deficit and debt in a speech in Washington at 1:35 p.m. He will try to regain control of the spending debate by drawing a sharp contrast with a Republican proposal unveiled last week to lower the deficit by $4.4 trillion over the next 10 years.

IMF Warns US on Debts, Wants Austerity (FT)
The US lacks a “credible strategy” to stabilize its mounting public debt posing a small but significant risk of a new global economic crisis, says the International Monetary Fund.

The Battle Of The Office Candy Jar (WSJ)
“The proximity and visibility of a food can consistently increase an adult’s consumption,” says the study, led by Brian Wansink, a professor of marketing and human behavior at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and author of “Mindless Eating.” He adds, “Even for a person with the greatest resolve, every time they look at a candy dish they say, ‘Do I want that Hershey’s Kiss, or don’t I?’ At the 24th time, maybe I’m kind of hungry, and I just got this terrible email, and my boss is complaining—and gradually my resolve is worn down.”

Tyco Gets Takeover Offer Of $30 Billion (WSJ)
France’s Schneider Electric SA has made a preliminary bid for approximately $30 billion for Tyco International Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter, hoping to draw the Swiss-based conglomerate to the negotiating table. “The board is studying the proposal,” said one person familiar with the matter. The tentative bid “was a surprise,” this person added. As a result, Tyco officials believe “it’s going to take awhile to sort it out,” this person said. It seems highly unlikely that Tyco will accept a $30 billion offer, and directors “would undoubtedly want it to go higher,” this person said.

China Banks Said to Need $131 Billion of Equity Over Six Years (Bloomberg)
“Capital erosion is a long-term issue facing Chinese banks because they don’t really have the motivation to reduce reliance on loan expansion,” said Wen Chunling, a Beijing-based analyst at Fitch. “The focus of China’s rules is to ensure that banks arm themselves with abundant capital to be well-prepared for a crisis, so that the cost of any government bailout would be minimized.”

GOP Spooked On Debt Limit? (PMM)
House Speaker John Boehner has been reaching out to top Wall Street players asking how close Congress can get to the May 16th deadline (or July 8th drop-dead date) for raising the debt limit without seriously unnerving financial markets. The questioning is not going over well. “They don’t seem to understand that you can’t put everything back in the box. Once that fear of default is in the markets, it doesn’t just go away. We’ll be paying the price for years in higher rates,” said one executive.

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Jamie Dimon: 1, Tim Geithner: 0

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When one is the chief executive of a bank or otherwise important person whose skills are in high demand, he or she needs to be available to pick up and move out of state at a moment’s notice, whether or not the the house is sold or the water is still running. This hasn’t posed a problem in time’s past, what with the most magnificent housing bubble the world had ever seen, but with the market having its teeth kicked in and left naked and bound in an alleyway with the words “Big Al” was here written in Sharpie across its chest, thing have been slightly more difficult of late. Tim Geithner, for instance, hasn’t been able to sell his Westchester house since taking the job of Treausury Secretary, despite cutting the price and retiling the bathroom, ultimately being forced to rent it out by the hour. Jamie Dimon too went through a similar problem unloading his Chicago home (where he lived as CEO of Bank One and held on to til his daughters graduated high school), despite fantastic art gracing the walls. Luckily for JD, the long wait is over. He reportedly sold his manse for $6.8 million (after having bought it for $4.7 million) and JPMorgan apparently picked up the relator tab.

JPMorgan covered $421,458 in real estate commissions and related costs in selling Dimon’s Gold Coast mansion. In the company’s proxy, it said the payment of commissions, appraisals, inspections, title search and other ordinary costs of selling a home was “in accordance with the firm’s general policy on relocation expenses, applicable to all eligible employees who relocate at the request of the firm.”

Meanwhile, Geithner has to take calls during meetings with the Chinese that the toilet is clogged again and he needs to fix it; don’t even get him started on the fact that even though the lease agreement prohibits smoking, he sees that damn hookah out every time he stops by.

[CRD via BI]

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Goldman Sachs PR Maven/Executioner To Dig Out His Cattle Gun Tonight

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Let one fool’s impression that you’re free to discuss family business once released into the wild, or that the rules don’t apply in perpetuity, be a lesson to you all.

“Not that they would come to my house and beat me up or something or kill my children,” a former Goldman trader says. “But certainly they would drag you through court or do something to screw up your life. If you did anything to hurt that firm in any way, all bets were off.”


Article courtesy of Dealbreaker