Bernanke Faces Possible Fed Split On Maintaining Stimulus (Bloomberg)
A “few” among the central bank’s 17 governors and regional bank presidents said tighter credit may be warranted this year, while a “few others noted that exceptional policy accommodation could be appropriate beyond 2011,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in the minutes, released yesterday in Washington.
Buffett’s Policies Went Unheeded (WSJ)
An independent committee of the conglomerate’s board will be reviewing the transaction and Mr. Sokol’s trades to determine whether there was a violation of the trading policy, a person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Buffett didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on his directive and whether Mr. Sokol’s actions violated it. Berkshire CFO Marc Hamburg said Mr. Buffett intends to field questions on the matter at the April 30 annual meeting in Omaha and isn’t expected to comment publicly before then.
SEC Unveils Plan To Reign In Market Volatility (Reuters)
The so-called “limit up-limit down” proposal, announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, would require trades in U.S.-listed stocks to be executed within a range tied to recent prices. If approved, it would replace existing single-stock circuit breakers that were implemented through a pilot program shortly after the flash crash.
Contrarian Adding Bets In Mideast (NYT)
“The Middle East is printing money and it’s used to operating in chaos,” said Mr. Barrack, who runs Colony Capital, which controls $36 billion in private equity and real estate investments around the globe, including more than $200 million in the Arab world. “In fact, it tends to do better in times of chaos than it does in times of peace. Regime changes are just a fact of life.” While other private equity investors back away from the area, Mr. Barrack said he was “looking hard” at adding to his holdings there, which include hotels in Cairo and Bahrain, and grocery stores in Syria.
US Closes In On Trade Deal With Colombia (WSJ)
The U.S. and Colombia will likely announce an agreement Wednesday on a free-trade deal after several weeks of intensive talks on labor issues, a senior Obama administration official confirmed Tuesday.
SEC Fannie Mae Probe Said to Examine CEO’s Testimony to Congress (Bloomberg)
As the housing market deteriorated in April 2007, Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mudd reported to Congress on his company’s health. The firm’s exposure to subprime loans, he told lawmakers, “remains minimal, less than 2.5 percent of our book.” Within 18 months, U.S. regulators seized the government- sponsored mortgage firm and its smaller sibling, Freddie Mac, after losses on soured loans pushed them to the brink of insolvency. The two firms have drawn more than $150 billion in life support from the Treasury since then. Mudd’s statements to Congress are being scrutinized as part of a Securities and Exchange Commission probe, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Portugal Borrowing Costs Surge at T-bill Auction (Reuters)
“A bailout was very highly likely even before the auction, and it is now even more so,” said Orlando Green, debt strategist at Credit Agricole.
German Banks May Add To Capital (WSJ)
Deutsche Bank in the invitation to its May shareholder meeting that it would seek approval to raise as much as €18 billion ($26 billion) in fresh capital. Commerzbank, meanwhile, outlined plans Wednesday for a capital increase of up to €11 billion as the bank looks to emerge from a multibillion-euro government bailout it received during the financial crisis.
Fed’s Biggest Foreign-Bank Bailout Saved U.S. Muni Bonds (Bloomberg)
Details of Fed lending released last week show that Dexia SA (DEXB), based in Brussels and Paris, borrowed as much as $37 billion, with an average daily loan amount of $12.3 billion in the 18 months after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed in September 2008. The House subcommittee that oversees the Fed plans hearings on the central bank’s discount window lending to offshore financial institutions next month. By lending to Dexia, the Fed kept money flowing into local government projects throughout the U.S. as well as the money market funds that invested in them. Dexia guaranteed bonds issued by entities as varied as the Texas State Veterans Land Board in Austin and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Commodities Analysts Backing Gold All The Way To $1,500 (CNBC)
Market watchers are calling for gold prices to hit $1,500 an ounce in the next three months, as the precious metal continues chugging ahead on a two-and-a-half-year run that has coincided with the beginning of the financial crisis.
Former Russian Spy Anna Chapman Hits The Catwalk (NYP)
Chapman first sashayed out solo at fashion house Shiyan & Rudkovskaya’s show dressed in sexy, skintight black pants, a plunging, chocolate-colored corset and feminine, bomber-style jacket with a shearling collar. She gripped the gun in her right hand. But while she might have been smooth enough to fake out the British and Americans while leading a double life as a KGB agent, the would-be assassin wasn’t as graceful on the stage of the Moscow Fashion Week show during the event. As she started strutting down the catwalk, the red-faced, red-haired vixen accidentally dropped her weapon on the floor. Quickly moving to cover her tracks, she picked it up, winked at audience members — and coolly blew on the end of the gun as if she’d just fired off a shot. She then continued prancing in her mustard-colored boots down the stage, where she was joined by hunky Russian pop star Dima Bilan. Bilan then sidled up to her — and Chapman stuck the gun into his neck.