G-20 Delays Imbalance Deal (WSJ)
The U.S. and G-20 host South Korea ran into strong opposition from such exporting powers as China and Germany to a proposal to quantify limits on current-account surpluses and deficits. At the heart of the controversy are fundamental issues of how countries would need to restructure their economies. "These are not going to be easy issues to resolve," said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "But I think we've got everyone talking the same language, everyone understanding longer-term what has to be done."
Morgan Stanley May Shed Quantitative Trading Unit (NYT)
For nearly two decades, the mathematical whiz Peter Muller and his secretive band of traders have helped power Morgan Stanley to bigger profits. But now Morgan Stanley and Mr.Muller are in advanced talks about splitting up. Under the plan being discussed, Morgan Stanley would spin off Mr. Muller’s unit, called Process Driven Trading, and keep a minority stake. The Process Driven Trading unit generated an estimated $4 billion in profits in the 10 years through 2006, according to Scott Patterson’s book, “The Quants." [Since 1992] Mr.Muller stocked the group with Ph.D.’s and housed them on their own floor, away from the hurly-burly excitement of Morgan Stanley’s mammoth stock trading floor. To stimulate productivity and cerebral thinking, he had ceiling lights installed that changed color every 15 seconds.
Even though he and his unit were minting money, Mr.Muller quit working full-time for Morgan Stanley in 2001, saying, according to a short biography on his Web site, that he realized he “can no longer find happiness in the corporate world.” Over the next several years, he traveled to Bhutan, New Zealand and Hawaii, hiking and kayaking, with his five-pound keyboard in tow. He took up yoga and began writing crossword puzzles, many of which appeared in The New York Times and other newspapers. He indulged his love of music, writing songs, releasing two albums under his own label and playing his guitar on the streets of Barcelona and in New York City subways. He also pursued his passion for poker, a favorite pastime of quantitative traders. He played in a few tournaments on the World Poker Tour. In his first tournament he came in fourth and took home nearly $100,000. In late 2006, Muller returned full time to Morgan Stanley.
Obama Assails China on Trade, Monetary Policy (AP)
"It wasn't any easier to talk about currency when I was first elected and my poll numbers were at 65 percent," Obama argued at the close of the G20 summit, after bluntly accusing Beijing of undervaluing its currency.
Exotic Cars Go 'Green' At $100,000 And Up (WSJ)
Next year, Volkswagen AG's Bentley will sell its Continental GT Coupe with an optional V8 engine it says will emit up to 40% less carbon dioxide than the coupe's standard 12-cylinder motor. Bentley already is in the midst of making all of its new models able to use ethanol fuel by 2012. Porsche AG plans to sell a plug-in hybrid car called the 918 Spyder that it says will yield up to 78 miles per gallon. Expected to arrive as early as 2013, it could carry a price tag close to €500,000 ($682,260), executives at the German car maker estimate. Porsche said it has already received roughly 2,300 informal order pledges from would-be customers.
Mizuho To Buy $500 Million BlackRock Stake (WSJ)
Mizuho Financial Group Inc. said Friday it will pay $500 million for a 2% stake in BlackRock, a deal designed to help Japan's second-largest bank by assets ramp up its asset-management operations.
Private banks keep hiring as rich get richer (Reuters)
Hiring sprees this year have taken some firms beyond their pre-crisis staffing levels, as banks believe growth in Asia, and robust revenues elsewhere, will support the expansion. Citi for instance plans to add between 100 and 200 senior staff to its private bank over the next few years, Dena Brumpton, chief operating officer at its private bank, told Reuters.
Seeking Guidance on Dodd-Frank’s Diversity Clause (Dealbook)
As Wall Street scrambles to comply with the regulations of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, one little-noticed provision has executives scratching their heads. The statute, included in Section 342 of the bill, creates 20 Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at the various regulatory agencies, including the Treasury, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the 12 Federal Reserve banks and the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Once established, the offices are charged with monitoring the diversity at the agencies as well as at any contractors or subcontractors, including law firms, accounting firms and investment banks. These contracts, totaling in the billions a year, are typically awarded to private firms for services like debt issuances and sales of government assets, as well as more general advisory services. Section 342 was proposed by Representative Maxine Waters.
Barclays to Reimburse Gay Workers for Taxes on U.S. Benefits (Bloomberg)
The aim is to offset the tax on benefits for same-sex partners that doesn’t apply to spouses in heterosexual marriages because same-sex partnerships aren’t recognized as marriages under U.S. law, the London-based bank said today in a statement.
Moscow vows revenge on top double agent (FT)
A Russian official said: “We know who he is and where he is. Do not doubt that a Mercader has been sent after him already.” The comment was an apparent reference to Ramón Mercader, the Soviet-picked assassin who in 1940 murdered Leon Trotsky, the exiled communist leader, with an ice pick in Mexico. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, had alluded to the existence of a mole within the SVR espionage agency after a meeting with the 10 returned spies, who were traded in July for four accused US and British agents in Russia. “This was the result of treason and traitors always meet a bad end,” Mr Putin said. “The special services live by their own laws and everyone knows what these laws are.”