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Meredith Whitney Eyes Goldman After Stock Drop

• Sharp-tongued analysts Meredith Whitney and Mike Mayo are ganging up on Goldman Sachs now, after their stock dropped 4 percent this morning: “In short, Goldman is no longer as much in the right place at the right time, at least compared to the past year,” Mayo wrote. [Reuters]
UBS gave into shareholder pressure and agreed to separate its investment bank from its wealth-management arm — but it insists it’s not going to sell off parts of the business. [Reuters]
• Meanwhile, Lehman Brothers could bank between $6.5 billion and $13 billion if it spins off its Neuberger Berman asset-management unit, a cash infusion that could boost the firm’s balance sheet as it dumps mortgage-backed securities at a discount. The only problem? If Lehman sells off the entire unit, “then they’d run out of bullets,” one analyst says. “How do you know you won’t need more cash four to five months from now?” [Bloomberg]
• Oh, also? Pretty much everyone has lost faith in our banks: 60 percent of institutional investors think there’ll be another major financial-firm failure within six months; 15 percent more think the failure will be within six to twelve months. And, as you know, if enough people believe it, it starts to come true. [FT]

• Wrap-dress designer Diane Von Furstenberg is set to pen a column for Departures magazine. [WWD]
• Speaking of! Is her husband, Barry Diller’s nemesis and Liberty Media Group chairman, John Malone, interested in purchasing AOL? [Reuters]
• Here’s a new revenue model for bloggers: tipping. Salon’s “Open Salon” allows members to tip one another with real money. [CNET]

• The New York Police Department plans to make the new World Trade Center site super-secure. [Curbed]
• The Spider-Man who climbed the New York Times’ building last month says it was “the biggest mistake” of his life. He says he didn’t think his climb would cause a big stir, even though he hung an Al Qaeda banner from the building. [NYDN]
• TriBeach, a 37-story hotel and apartment project on Eight Avenue that was originally fast-tracked, has been put on the back burner. [NYP]

• JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, and Wachovia are now in Andrew Cuomo’s line of fire. The attorney general plans to begin “immediate” settlement talks with the banks regarding the never-ending auction-rate-securities mess. [NYP]
• Countrywide gets called out by the Justice Department. [NYT]
• George Clooney might be returning to the big screen as a lawyer: His production company, Smokehouse, bought the rights to the book about the Salim Hamdan trial, and Clooney is believed to be interested in playing the role of Hamdan’s attorney, Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift. [WSJ]

Meredith Whitney Eyes Goldman After Stock Drop