Perkins Apologizes for Comparing Attacks on Rich to Holocaust (Bloomberg, earlier)
Venture capital pioneer Tom Perkins apologized for comparing today’s treatment of wealthy Americans to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany, though he said he stood by his message around class warfare. “I’d deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-Semitism,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “This is not the case.” Perkins, 82, was addressing a firestorm he had created with a letter to the editor in the Jan. 25 edition of the Wall Street Journal, in which he compared resentment of the very rich in the U.S. to a “progressive war on the American 1 percent,” akin to attacks on Jews in the 1930s. In the wake of the letter, the venture capital firm he co-founded, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, distanced itself from him, saying Perkins hadn’t been involved in the firm in years. Other venture investors including Marc Andreessen also criticized Perkins for his remarks. Perkins told Bloomberg Television that he made the analogy between wealthy Americans and Jews because the rich are a minority, like the Jews who made up just 1 percent of the German population before the Holocaust. He said he regretted using the word Kristallnacht, a night in 1938 when Nazis coordinated attacks against Jews, in his letter. “It was a terrible misjudgement,” he said, adding that he has written a letter of apology to the Anti-Defamation League. “I do not regret the message at all. Any time the majority starts to demonize any minority, no matter what it is, it is wrong and dangerous.” … Of the venture firm that he co-founded, Perkins said “they chose to throw me under the bus.” He said that as he has distanced himself from Kleiner Perkins, “there has been a corresponding decline in the firm.”
Two Charged in Alleged Bitcoin-Laundering Scheme (WSJ)
Mr. Shrem, a self-proclaimed “bitcoin millionaire” according to prosecutors, appeared before a magistrate judge in Manhattan federal court Monday. His attorney, Keith Miller, said that his client was “presumed innocent” and asked the judge to release him on a $1 million bond. Prosecutors, who said the evidence against him is “overwhelming,” opposed the request and played a 2012 YouTube interview with Mr. Shrem during which he discussed his plans if he were arrested. “We have contingency plans, I have a plane ticket ready to take me to Singapore with another corporation already set up,” Mr. Shrem said in the interview. “A lot of us core bitcoiners are ready to go to jail for bitcoin.”
A Fed Policy Maker, Changing His Mind, Urges More Stimulus (NYT)
The Fed’s policy-making committee, which meets Tuesday and Wednesday, is widely expected to announce another $10 billion cut in monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities. But Mr. Kocherlakota (pronounced COACH-er-la-ko-tah) spent recent months crisscrossing the Midwestern region served by the Minneapolis Fed, telling audiences in Minnesota and Montana and Michigan that persistent unemployment has created “a time of testing” for the Fed comparable to the rise of inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. So far, he says, the Fed is falling short. “As this goes on, there’s a temptation to think of this problem as being beyond what we as monetary policy makers can address,” Mr. Kocherlakota said in an interview in mid-January in his office overlooking the Mississippi River. “We shouldn’t let the persistence of the problem lead us to the conclusion that we shouldn’t do more.” Mr. Kocherlakota’s outspoken advocacy for stronger action is particularly striking because he spent his first three years at the Minneapolis Fed, after his appointment in 2009, loudly arguing that the Fed should do less.
Prices for Super Bowl Cheap Seats Are Falling Fast (BusinessWeek)
According to ticket search engine SeatGeek, the average sale price on Saturday and Sunday was $2,056, down 40 percent from a week ago—a more precipitous drop than the normal decline in the two weeks before the big game. The last three Super Bowls have had higher average prices during the same time frame: $2,512 last year in New Orleans, $3,127 in 2012 in Indianapolis, and $3,513 in 2011 in Arlington, Tex.
Sen. Cory Booker unhappy with lack of attention Super Bowl is netting New Jersey (NYDN)
“I passed miffed a while ago. I mean this is ridiculous,” Booker said Monday on FOX 5’s “Good Day New York.” “Every time they talk about the Super Bowl, (you hear) ‘we’ll see you in New York.’ Well they’re not playing in New York, they’re playing in New Jersey.” Sunday’s Super Bowl will take place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., where both New York football teams — the Giants and the Jets — play their home games during the regular season. But the popular Democrat said he couldn’t bear that his state was failing to garner attention for the momentous event. “It’s about time people start to recognize the integral part that New Jersey is playing in the Super Bowl,” Booker said. “Now look, I think it is a joint event … We’re a united economy in this area, but we’re getting the short shrift when it comes to what’s going on.”
Request to SEC for AIG Files Nets Heavily Redacted Documents (WSJ)
SEC officials blacked out information more than 800 separate times in one transcript of a witness interview that lasted less than three hours. On one page, redactions left just four words remaining: “okay,” “by,” “in” and “did.” On another page, “um hmm” is one of three short phrases left untouched. Among the blacked-out details: the names of witnesses, their lawyers, the SEC enforcement officials and even the proofreaders who checked the transcripts. The SEC released the documents in response to a public-records request by The Wall Street Journal that sought copies of interviews conducted under oath by the agency during its probe into the events leading up to the public bailout of AIG.
Insurers Push Back Against Stricter Regulation (WSJ)
Some of the nation’s largest insurance companies are mounting a coordinated behind-the-scenes push to thwart stricter federal regulation in the wake of the financial crisis. Seven insurance companies have begun working together to persuade top lawmakers, Federal Reserve officials and other regulators that insurance companies aren’t risky like big banks and shouldn’t be subject to the same rules for determining capital levels, according to people familiar with the meetings.
Distressed Debt Hedge Fund Commits $530 Million to Europe (Dealbook)
Marathon Asset Management has gained a reputation for being a rag-and-bone picker, finding opportunities in the aftermath of financial disaster. Marathon, a $11 billion hedge fund, is going scavenging in Europe with a new fund dedicated to distressed debt on the Continent, hoping to profit from improving economic prospects in the region. The $530 million fund was opened on Jan. 15 and will start with investments in Spain, Germany and Ireland, according to someone familiar with the fund’s strategy.
76,000 pounds of beef ribs burn in Ludlow big rig fire (The Sun)
A semi-truck’s trailer containing 76,000 pounds of beef ribs caught fire Saturday night, causing westbound lanes of the 40 Freeway to be shut down for about two hours, authorities said. The fire occurred when the rear wheels of a trailer ignited around 6 p.m., according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department. By the time firefighters arrived, the truck was disconnected from the trailer, which was fully engulfed in flames, spokesman Al Franco said in a written report. Firefighters said it was a typical truck fire but it had a “wonderful BBQ beef rib odor to it,” according to Franco’s report.