S&P Makes Downgrade Inquiries (FT)
The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to disclose who within its ranks knew of its decision to downgrade US debt before it was announced last week, as part of a preliminary look into potential insider trading, people familiar with the matter say.
BofA Chief Sees Top US Officials (WSJ)
Embattled Bank of America Corp. boss Brian Moynihan met privately this week with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve governor Daniel Tarullo amid the bank's campaign to calm investors and employees about the bank's dramatic share slump. The separate meetings took place on Wednesday in Washington, said people familiar with the situation. Earlier that day, Mr. Moynihan participated in an unusual public conference call arranged by one of the bank's largest shareholders, where he offered assurances about the bank's strategy, financial strength and ability to withstand market volatility.
Short Selling Of Stocks Banned In France, Spain (Bloomberg)
European regulators are divided over how to respond after a rout that sent the region’s bank stocks to their lowest in almost 2 1/2 years this week. Germany and the Netherlands have said they don’t plan further restrictions on short sales, while British regulators said they don’t plan to limit the practice. “In contrast to the regulators’ hopes, the overall evidence indicates that short-selling bans at best left stock prices unaffected and at worst may have contributed to their decline,” said Alessandro Beber, a professor at Cass Business School in London who’s studied short-sales bans in 30 countries.
Analysts: Short Selling Ban Will Not Deter Bears (CNBC)
"There is absolutely no evidence that it will achieve what they want it to achieve," Nick Carn, founder of Carn Macro Advisors, told CNBC on Friday. "It's a gesture to try and indicate that the problems are due to some kind of evil conspiracy of one type or another, part of the process that says that speculators are driving down the price of Greek debt or Italian debt. It's trying to create the same class of person to whom you can then attribute your problems," he said.
Raters Fail To See Defaults Coming (WSJ)
Out of the 15 government defaults S&P has tracked since 1975, for instance, the firm rated 12 of the countries single-B or higher one year before the event. Yet S&P says historically a single-B rating has had just a 2% average chance of default within a year. Put another way, S&P drastically underestimated one-year default risk in 80% of those cases. Similarly, of the 13 governments rated by Moody's Investors Service within one year of a default, 11 were rated B or higher. Three of those were rated Ba, Moody's parlance for double-B, which carries a 0.77% one-year default rate.
Treasury Saves $647 Million In Bond Sales (Bloomberg)
“One would be remiss to try and conclude that anyone is worried about that one-tick downgrade,” said Ian Lyngen, a government bond strategist at CRT Capital Group LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “What is the yield differential in the market for that one tick? Apparently it’s nothing. If anything, it’s a bullish event for Treasuries.”
DSK: Did the IMF Look the Other Way? (BusinessWeek)
It is not immediately obvious, upon laying eyes on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, what the source of his attraction to women is. White-haired and burly, with hooded eyes and a face often set in a sort of glowering smirk, he speaks English with a heavy French accent that gives him an almost retiring air. And yet when it came to women he was interested in, he could be unnervingly direct. While head of the International Monetary Fund, Strauss-Kahn pursued a female colleague with whom he later had an affair by repeatedly calling her into his office with the same query, as if he hadn’t listened to the answer the first time, according to a person familiar with her version of events. He proffered dinner invitations and suggestive comments along the lines of, “I don’t know why, but I like you … ” She eventually gave in but came to regret it, and later wrote to a lawyer investigating the matter: “I fear that he is a man with a problem that may make him ill-equipped to lead an institution where women work under his command.”
Feds Now More Likely To Do Third Round Of Easing (CNBC)
"There is no doubt that over the last week the odds of seeing another round of asset purchases has risen significantly ," says Tom Porcelli, chief US economist at RBC Capital Markets. "This doesn’t mean we think it will have any more success than QE2. What this simply reflects is a Fed with few remaining options. "
Angry Birds Maker Seeks Funds At $1.2 Billion Valuation (Bloomberg)
Rovio may use any new funds to fuel its expansion. The company plans to make an “Angry Birds” movie and open offices outside of Finland, and is seeking to capitalize on the popularity of its brand in countries such as China, where it aims to sell stuffed animals and clothing in 200 retail stores.
Chinese Authorities Find 22 More Fake Apple Stores (Reuters)
China's Administration for Industry and Commerce in the Yunnan provincial capital said the stores have been ordered to stop using Apple's logo after Apple China accused them of unfair competition and violating its registered trademark, state media said on Thursday. The market watchdog agency said it would set up a complaint hotline and boost monitoring
Our addiction to technology trumps caffeine, chocolate and alcohol (LATimes)
More than half of Americans would rather give up chocolate, alcohol and caffeine for a week before parting temporarily with their phones, according to a recent survey by technology firm TeleNav. One-third would give up sex, 22% would give up their toothbrushes (versus 40% of iPhone users, who evidently love their phone more than clean teeth) and 21% would rather go shoeless before separating from a mobile phone. Sixty-six percent sleep with their smartphones by their side. Our addiction is so severe that people described going 24 hours without Internet akin to quitting an alcohol or cigarette habit, according to a report from British company Intersperience. About 40% of those surveyed reported feeling lonely without the Internet, and 53% felt upset at being deprived. One person described unplugging to "having my hand chopped off."