ECB set to act against low inflation, hold fire on bolder steps (Reuters)
The ECB currently “sterilizes” money it puts into the system though bond purchases by withdrawing other money to offset the effect. Stopping this would mean more money available for lending. The step is easier to swallow for the Bundesbank, Germany’s conservative central bank, and meets market expectations for some action by the ECB signaling its resolve to maintain its accommodative policy stance for an extended period of time. “This could be the compromise solution,” said Nick Matthews, economist at Nomura.
EBay CEO says top shareholders agree PayPal should stay put (Reuters)
EBay Inc CEO John Donahoe said on Wednesday that several of the online retailer’s most active shareholders have assured him they support his efforts to resist demands by activist investor Carl Icahn for a spin-off of the PayPal unit. Donahoe told Reuters on Wednesday he has spoken with as many as 16 of the 20 most-active shareholders in eBay, and most favored hanging on to the fast-growing PayPal payments unit. He did not say what percentage of the company’s shares were held by the investors who agreed with his resistance to Icahn.
After a Dazzling Early Career, a Star Trader Settles Down (Dealbook)
Over the last decade, Mr. Jones’s trading results have dimmed. His investors say the reasons include a deliberate move to trade more conservatively, fewer big interest-rate and currency moves as central banks kept short-term rates near zero and more competition as the hedge fund universe has mushroomed. While Mr. Jones can still claim long-term annual returns of close to 19.5 percent in his $10.3 billion flagship fund, Tudor BVI Global, it has been 11 years since he last hit that level, according to material provided to potential investors late last year. From 2010 to 2012, he had his worst three-year stretch ever, averaging just 5 percent annually. Last year, gains hit 14.3 percent, investors say, helped by winning bets on Japan’s stock market and against its currency. But two smaller funds managed by other traders have been unprofitable since 2011. One of them, Tudor Tensor, which had a 35 percent gain in 2008, has shrunk to $700 million from $1.4 billion in 2010.
For Bitcoin, Secure Future Might Need Oversight (NYT)
To save their nascent currency, Bitcoin’s backers may be forced to alter their philosophy and embrace the same messy humans — auditors, insurers and even regulators — that the currency’s most ardent supporters have long abhorred. This raises two difficult questions: Can human oversight integrate into Bitcoin’s free-for-all ethos quickly enough to render Bitcoin safe? And, can Bitcoin be made safer without tamping down on the very openness that proponents say makes Bitcoin such a cheap, efficient and innovative financial platform? At the moment, the answers are still very much up in the air.
Army commander bans sandwiches in attack on ‘barbaric habits’ (Telegraph)
Sandwiches have been banned from an officers’ mess after a commander noticed many soldiers were eating them with their hands as he insisted “a gentleman or a lady uses a knife and fork.” Major General James Cowan issued the note after he noticed officers were eating sandwiches with their hands and failing to stand when commanders entered the room. His three-page letter criticised standards at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire where he said he had seen many “frankly barbaric” techniques and habits displayed by soldiers and officers. The note, addressed to ‘Chaps’, said: “Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands. The practice of serving rolls and sandwiches must stop,” the Sun reported. The letter penned by Maj Gen Cowan, who is in charge of 20,000 soldiers and 2,500 officers in 3 UK Division, mostly based at Bulford, also criticised poor grammar and writing, advising against the “wanton use of capitals, abbreviations and acronyms” because they can leave the reader exhausted.
Fisher warns Fed’s bond buying could be distorting U.S. financial markets (Reuters)
In a speech in Mexico City, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher amplified some lingering concerns that the central bank’s policy stimulus is stoking asset-price bubbles that “may result in tears” for investors acting on bad incentives. “There are increasing signs quantitative easing has overstayed its welcome: Market distortions and acting on bad incentives are becoming more pervasive,” he said of the asset purchases, which are sometimes called QE. “I fear that we are feeding imbalances similar to those that played a role in the run-up to the financial crisis,” he said in prepared remarks to the Association of Mexican Banks.
Sbarro Preparing to File for Bankruptcy Protection (WSJ)
Sbarro LLC is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as next week as it continues to struggle with flagging sales after an earlier Chapter 11 restructuring, people familiar with the matter said. The pizza chain is soliciting votes due by the end of this week for a so-called prepackaged restructuring plan that could streamline its trip through bankruptcy court, these people said. If it gets enough votes, Sbarro could file for Chapter 11 protection as early as Sunday, they said.
Singapore to Overtake Tokyo as Asia’s Wealthy Hub in 2023 (Bloomberg)
Singapore will have 4,878 people with $30 million or more in assets excluding their principal residence by 2023, a 55 percent gain from last year, and trailing only London globally, according to a report from Knight Frank LLP yesterday. The number of these millionaires in Tokyo will climb 8 percent to 3,818, ranking the city fourth worldwide after New York.
Gambler Sues, Says He Lost $500,000 Playing Drunk (AP)
Southern California gambler Mark Johnston, 52, is suing the Downtown Grand for loaning him money and serving him drinks when he was visibly intoxicated. Nevada law bars casinos from allowing obviously drunk patrons to gamble and from serving them comped drinks. Johnston’s attorney, Sean Lyttle, says the Grand, which opened last November in the old part of Las Vegas, intends to pursue Johnston for trying to shirk his gambling debts. Johnston put a stop-payment order on the markers, or casino credits, the Grand issued, and is also seeking damages from the Grand for sullying his name. Johnston says he was thoroughly drunk during the hours he spent playing pai gow and blackjack at the Grand. His legal team plans to rely on eyewitness testimony and surveillance video to prove that he was visibly intoxicated. Johnston lives in Ventura and made his fortune in car dealership and real estate ventures…Johnston arrived in Las Vegas with the woman he was dating on the Thursday before the Super Bowl. He drank in the limousine from the Las Vegas airport to the Grand, drank more during dinner with friends, and then says he blacked out. The suit alleges that the Grand comped him dozens of drinks while he gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars, finally sleeping off his drunkenness on that Saturday, which was Feb, 1. Johnston says he didn’t learn how much he had lost until the next day.