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Thursday, April 19, 2012 – Say on Pay Just Says No to Citigroup, BofA Loses by Winning, and the Risky World of Derivatives

DOW – 68 = 12,964SPX – 8 = 1376NAS – 23 = 300710 YR YLD -.03 = 1.95%OIL -.01 = 102.66GOLD +.60 = 1643.60SILV + .17 = 31.90PLAT + 3.00 = 1587.00 Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citigroup was “this close” to a $15 million dollar payday. And then shareholders slammed on the brakes and demanded the amount be toned down. It might be a trend. Wells Fargo and Bank of America will ask shareholders to vote on executive pay in coming weeks, and the results at Citi might influence the voting at Wells and BofA. Yesterday, shareholders rejected the compensation plan of regional bank FirstMerit Corp., of Akron, Ohio. The bank gave its CEO a pay raise to $6.4 million last year from $5.5 million, while its stock fell 20 percent. “Say-on-Pay” votes by shareholders were a requirement of the Dodd-Frank financial reform Act, and it looks like 90% of the compensation packages are winning approval, but the margin is slim. The Occupy movement plans to protest at 36 shareholder meetings this spring and the investment community seems to be waking up from a long nap of disengagement. The California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, voted no on the Citigroup pay measure because Citi “has not anchored rewards to performance.” Unfortunately, the only reason CalPERS voted against the pay package was because Pandit’s performance was beyond incompetent. What is the appropriate role for CalPERS? Shouldn’t they stand up for their members? Chief executives at some of the nation’s …

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

DOW – 14 = 13,060 SPX – 0.88 = 1398NAS + 12 = 308010 YR YLD – .07 = 2.17%OIL + 1.78 = 103.25GOLD + 10.90 = 1632.30SILV +.38 = 31.84PLAT + 7.00 = 1609.00 The big jobs report is due out tomorrow morning 5:30 AM pacific time. The nonfarm payroll report is typically the biggest economic report of the month. And tomorrow’s report will be unique because the stock market will be closed for Good Friday. Today we saw a report that initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000, the lowest level since April 2008. New claims have fallen sharply in recent months, boosting expectations the end of a long cycle of heavy layoffs will lead to more hiring. The weekly report does not have a direct relationship with the March employment report due on tomorrow morning. In Europe, Spanish bond yields moved higher, renewing concerns about the euro zone’s financial health. Prices for U.S. government debt rose while the euro weakened against the dollar. The European Central Bank’s emergency lending program launched last December was supposed to give Europe’s troubled banks and sovereigns three years of relief. But just months later, the medicine is already wearing off. That’s the problem with trying to fix a solvency problem with liquidity—it doesn’t last. Spain is the new epicenter. Demand for the nation’s debt slumped this week, forcing the government to pay 4.3 percent on five-year bonds, nearly a percentage point more than in March; …

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