Leaders In Europe Seek New Pact (WSJ)
The proposal, which hasn’t yet been agreed to, would make budget discipline legally binding and enforceable by European authorities. Officials regard the moves as a first step toward closer fiscal and economic coordination within the currency area. That would mark a seminal shift in the governance of the 17-nation euro zone. European officials hope a new agreement, which would aim to shrink the excessive public debt that helped spark the crisis, would persuade the European Central Bank to undertake more drastic action to reverse the recent selloff in euro-zone debt markets.
Merkel Favors Fast-Track EU Treaty Change (Bloomberg)
Germany spurned investor calls to maximise financial firepower to calm markets, saying its fast- track proposals for European Union treaty change to enforce budget discipline are key to solving the euro-area debt crisis. Germany is working with “an ambitious timeline because we believe that Europe can’t wait for this forever, but that it should also be possible to put such limited change into effect in what for some is a surprisingly short time,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters in Berlin today.
Moody’s: Mounting Pressure on All EU Sovereign Ratings (Reuters)
“While Moody’s central scenario remains that the euro area will be preserved without further widespread defaults, even this `positive’ scenario carries very negative rating implications in the interim period,” the agency said in a report.
Dealers See Fed Buying $545B Mortgage Bonds (Bloomberg)
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his fellow policy makers, who bought $2.3 trillion of Treasury and mortgage-related bonds between 2008 and June, will start another program next quarter, 16 of the 21 primary dealers of U.S. government securities that trade with the central bank said in a Bloomberg News survey last week. The Fed may buy about $545 billion in home-loan debt, based on the median of the 10 firms that provided estimates.
Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks Undisclosed $13B (Bloomberg)
The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.
Schwarzman Backs Romney as Wall Street Turns (Bloomberg)
Schwarzman, chairman of the world’s largest private-equity firm, will host a fundraiser for Mitt Romney at his Park Avenue apartment next month, in a sign that Romney is closing the sale with Wall Street’s wealthiest donors. The fundraiser marks Schwarzman’s inaugural step to help Romney secure the Republican presidential nomination, according to a person familiar with Schwarzman’s plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He will follow up with efforts to persuade colleagues in the financial industry to get behind Romney’s presidential bid, the person said.
California Black Friday pepper spray suspect surrenders, is released pending investigation (WaPo)
A woman suspected of showering Black Friday shoppers with pepper spray surrendered to authorities but was released pending further investigation after she refused to discuss the incident, police said Saturday. The woman, whose name was not released, is suspected of firing pepper spray into a crowd in order to clear a path to a crate of Xbox video game players that were being unwrapped late Thanksgiving night at a Walmart in the upscale Porter Ranch section of the San Fernando Valley.
Greece’s Statistics Chief Faces Criminal Investigation (FT)
The head of Elstat, Greece’s new independent statistics agency, faces an official criminal investigation for allegedly inflating the scale of the country’s fiscal crisis and acting against the Greek national interest. Andreas Georgiou, who worked at the International Monetary Fund for 20 years, was appointed in 2010 by agreement with the fund and the European Commission to clean up Greek statistics after years of official fudging by the finance ministry. “I am being prosecuted for not cooking the books,” Mr Georgiou told the Financial Times. “We would like to be a good, boring institution doing its job. Unfortunately, in Greece statistics is a combat sport.”
Occupy Deadlines Pass (AP)
Deadlines for Wall Street protesters to leave their encampments came and went in Philadelphia and a festive, party-like atmosphere as protesters in Los Angeles defied the order clear out early Monday, leading to three arrests. Protesters defied the mayor’s deadline to vacate their encampment near City Hall in Los Angeles, with about 1,000 flooding into the area as hundreds of tents remained standing as they have for nearly two months. Police arrested three people after ordering Occupy Los Angeles protesters to leave a downtown intersection. Officers on loudspeakers declared an unlawful assembly just before 5 a.m., and protesters were told to get out of the street within five minutes. Commanders corralled demonstrations back to City Hall park, telling them they won’t be arrested there.
Two Wall Street Titans, and a Seven-Year Tiff (NYT)
These ultrarich men battled for seven years in multiple courts, over a relatively paltry $4.5 million. That might be real money to mere mortals, but to these two, it’s barely a rounding error. So why bother? This battle, it turns out, was more about big egos than big money — and it has left both men spitting expletives. The scrape finally ended this month, with Mr. Ackman victorious. But, before it was over, the affair occupied a Who’s Who of powerful lawyers and ran up millions of dollars in legal fees, all because of an otherwise forgettable deal the pair cut back in 2004. “The guy is a shakedown artist,” Mr. Ackman sneers. “His word is worthless.” Mr. Icahn says: “He’s now the young gunfighter who wants to show he beat the older gunfighter with a big reputation. He just likes pounding himself on the chest.”
Arizona woman tries to rob store with toy penguin, police say (AZC)
A Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office statement late Friday said the woman entered a Chevron on Wednesday evening and claimed she had a bomb in a hand concealed under her sweater. She demanded cash from the clerk and threatened to blow up the store. The clerk explained that because the gas station was closing, the register was empty. The woman pressed on, but the clerk continued to refuse until she left the store, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said. The clerk spotted the license plate of the getaway car, and the car’s registered owner, Andri Lynn Jeffers, 26, matched the clerk’s description and appeared to be the woman captured on surveillance footage, D’Evelyn said. Jeffers confessed to the attempt and said she used a toy penguin, not a bomb, D’Evelyn said.