Koch Brothers Flout Laws With Secret Iran Sales (Bloomberg)
In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts. “I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”...What many people don’t know is how the Kochs’ anti- regulation political ideology has influenced the way they conduct business. A Bloomberg Markets investigation has found that Koch Industries -- in addition to being involved in improper payments to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East -- has sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, a country the U.S. identifies as a sponsor of global terrorism.
Buffett: ultra-rich tax may generate $20 billion per year (Bloomberg)
“It’s to have the ultra-rich who are paying very low tax rates pay more taxes. There’s all kinds of ultra-rich who pay normal taxes, but there’s a small segment who pay very low taxes including me. People who make money with money only pay very low taxes at very high levels of income. People with jobs like yours or all those around us pay perfectly normal taxes. What I am talking about would apply to 50,000 people out of 310 million in the country. It would simply mean that if you make tens of millions of dollars and your tax rate was 16% or 17%, you would start paying like the person who made $100,000 or $10 million who paid normal tax rates. An athlete making $10 million would not have a change in his tax rate at all. Somebody who buys a stock index future and sells it 10 seconds later and gets 60% by long-term gains, he would have a different world to live in.”
Wall Street Protestors Dress As Zombies In NYC (AP)
Patrick Bruner, a spokesman for the group, says Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are being urged to dress in business wear with white faces and blood, and will march while eating monopoly money. He says financial workers should see them "reflecting the metaphor of their actions."
Anti-Wall Street Protesters Reach 'Prime Time'Goal as Arrests Surpass 700 (Bloomberg)
The rallies, which began 16 days ago with a goal of occupying Wall Street for months, spread to cities including Los Angeles and Boston, where 25 people were arrested Sept. 30 after police said they refused to leave the lobby of a Bank of America Corp. building. The next day, New York City police halted a march over the Brooklyn Bridge and took hundreds of activists into custody for blocking traffic. Some people arrested claimed officers had tricked them into leaving the pedestrian walkway.
Pimco's Total Return Fund Has 16% in Treasuries (Bloomberg)
Eight months ago Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, said Treasuries “may need to be exorcised” and cleaned them out of his $245 billion Total Return Fund. The company then used derivatives to bet against the debt in March. Now the Pacific Investment Management Co. fund has 16 percent of its assets in U.S. government securities as the debt posted the highest quarterly returns in almost three years.
Profits, But No Joy, For Merrill (NYT)
Nearly three years later, taxpayers have been repaid, with interest, and what is now Bank of America Merrill Lynch is doing surprisingly well. But the company as a whole is groaning under the weight of many billions of dollars in bad home mortgages, most of them inherited from Countrywide Financial, which it acquired in 2008. Bank of America’s stock, down 54 percent this year, is the biggest loser in the Dow Jones industrial average. The irony is not lost on bankers, brokers and traders at One Bryant Park. The billions of dollars that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is earning from its businesses on Wall Street are being wiped out by the red ink flowing out of Countrywide. Bonuses are on the line. So are jobs. “It’s debilitating and depressing,” says one Merrill veteran, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “People are very angry. How could we not be?”
Arrested Development creator plans new series as prelude to movie (The Guardian)
Hurwitz told an Arrested Development session at the New Yorker Festival on Sunday that he and the show's cast were "trying to do a limited-run series into the movie", the New York Times reported. "We're basically hoping to do nine or 10 episodes, with almost one character per episode," he said.
Others Go, but Buffett Stays on President’s Side (NYT)
On Friday evening, Mr. Buffett was the host of a fund-raiser for President Obama at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, typically a magnet for the who’s who of finance. Democrats had bet that the star power of one of the world’s richest men would draw an overflow crowd of Wall Street’s elite for an affair that ran $10,000 a plate, or $35,800 for one-on-one time with Mr. Buffett...The event — which included on the menu some of Mr. Buffett’s favorites, like Cherry Coke and Dairy Queen ice cream — was considered a sell-out success by the Obama campaign. It easily raised more than $1.5 million for the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Greek Deficit Sharpens Default Fears (WSJ)
If the creditors pull the plug, then Europe's banks–above all Greek ones—could be sitting on over €50 billion of Greek government debt that would be effectively worthless until a restructuring agreement could be put in place. In that case, Moody's Investor Service said banks might need to write off up to 60% of their holdings—almost three times what they were supposed to write off under an agreement hammered out by euro-zone leaders in July.
S&P 500 Valuations Below Recessions Since ‘57 (Bloomberg)
Companies in the benchmark gauge for American equities trade at 10.2 times 2012 forecast earnings, compared with the average in economic contractions since 1957 of 13.7, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At the same time, analysts have cut projections for profits next year by 2.6 percent to $110.78 a share, the biggest eight-week drop since 2009, the data show.
Disputed Trade Pacts Advance (WSJ)
Together, the pacts could boost U.S. exports by $13 billion annually—the Korea pact alone is worth $11 billion—though there would also be more imports and a wider array of foreign services available in the U.S. All three deals are expected to benefit U.S. agriculture by lifting or reducing tariffs on exports of U.S. commodities, machinery and chemicals, even as they present new challenges to the U.S. textile, electronics and floral industries. The U.S.-Korea agreement will double U.S. farm exports to Korea, to $3.8 billion annually, through increased sales of grains, fruits and vegetables, pork products and wine, the U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated.
Fake Batman goes to Christchurch police (TVNewZealand)
A fake Batman has marched into Christchurch central police station demanding to know what emergency had triggered the "bat signal" - white light beaming through the sky. The caped crusader, dressed in full superhero garb of mask, cape and tights, was insisting that the White Lights of Hope, which commemorate the earthquake anniversary, bear an uncanny resemblance to the bat emblem that flashes through the night sky. "First of all he wanted to speak to the commissioner," Sergeant Chris Jones told The Press. "And then he wanted to know what was going on and why he'd been called, because he'd seen the lights in the sky."