Italy Plan Opens Pivotal Week For Euro (WSJ)
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, in his first test since taking office two weeks ago, outlined a three-year plan made up of €30 billion ($40.2 billion) in tax increases, spending cuts, pension overhauls and growth-boosting measures. The package—equivalent to 1.9% of Italy's €1.6 trillion gross domestic product—will likely be followed by Franco-German proposals on Monday to create a new regime for budget policies in the euro zone, which European leaders could adopt at a summit on Dec. 8-9. Leaders hope a deal could pave the way for a massive European Central Bank intervention in government bond markets that is aimed at stopping the exodus of private capital and reversing the rise of countries' borrowing costs to ruinous levels. "On the whole—considering that Monti's cabinet has been in place for 18 days or so—this package amounts to a valid and rapid first step in the right direction," said Vladimir Pillonca, an economist with Société Générale...Under Mr. Monti's plan, the retirement age for women with private-sector jobs would be raised by 2018 to 66 years old, from 60 today, a change that would align the retirement ages of men and women. Labor Minister Elsa Fornero broke into tears during the news conference, saying the pension changes were necessary to avoid "collective impoverishment." [At left, a montage the Journal put together of Fornero in said tears, in what presumably is the first in new series of government officials and private sector executives called "I'm Not Crying, You're Crying."]
Monti’s Austerity Debut Risks Italian Wrath (Bloomberg)
“The huge public debt of Italy isn’t the fault of Europe, it’s the fault of Italians,” Monti, who took over last month after former Premier Silvio Berlusconi resigned, told a news conference as he detailed the package yesterday. “Together, we will make it.”
Merkel Heads to Paris as EU Seeks Debt Strategy (Bloomberg)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will hold talks in Paris today starting at 1:30 p.m. over lunch.
Fed Prepares To Make Itself Perfectly Clear (WSJ)
Federal Reserve officials are close to completing an overhaul of how they signal their policy plans to the public...They are likely to spend much of their Dec. 13 meeting ironing out unresolved pieces of the new communications strategy and seem on pace to unveil it early next year. They have two major objectives: Be more explicit about the Fed's goals for inflation and employment, and articulate more clearly the interest-rate strategy to meet those goals.
Tony Bennett’s Nude Lady Gaga Sketch Could Soon Be In Your Living Room (WSJ)
Eight Ferraris Crash at ‘Gathering of Narcissists’ (Bloomberg)
Eight Ferraris and a Lamborghini were part of a 14-car crash in Japan yesterday that wrecked more than $1 million of vehicles. “The accident occurred when the driver of a red Ferrari was switching from the right lane to the left and skidded,” said Mitsuyoshi Isejima, executive officer for Yamaguchi Prefecture’s Expressway Traffic Police unit. “It was a gathering of narcissists.” The drivers were aged between 37 and 60 years old, he said. The accident, at 10:16 a.m. on the rain-soaked Chugoku Expressway in Yamaguchi Prefecture at the western tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu, also involved three Mercedes Benz (DAI) vehicles and two Toyotas, police said. The convoy was heading from Kyushu to Hiroshima when the accident occurred. No fatalities were reported and 10 people sustained bruising and minor injuries.
Senate Democrats To Offer New Tax Cut Plan (Reuters)
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, a Democrat, said that the offer would be a "serious attempt to move this ball forward," and avoid a Dec. 31 expiration of the popular tax cut.
Chinese Rating Agency Keep Triple Rating For China (Reuters)
Beijing-based Dagong Global Credit Rating has kept its top-notch sovereign rating for China despite hard-landing concerns about the Chinese economy. Dagong kept its AAA rating for China's foreign currency debt and its AA+ rating for the country's local currency debt, noting in a press statement that "the fundamental character of rapid economic growth (in China) has not been changed." Moody's has an Aa3 rating on China's sovereign debt, and Standard and Poor's rates China's long-term sovereign debt as AA-.
Lehman Closes In On Final Board (WSJ)
The new board, made up of seven experts in restructuring, real estate and derivatives who lack Lehman ties, will oversee the liquidation of tens of billions of dollars in assets for the benefit of Lehman creditors, the people said.
Putin's Party Clings To Reduced Majority In Russia (Reuters)
In the biggest electoral setback for Putin since he rose to power in 1999, the Central E lection Commission said United Russia was set to lose 77 seats in the State Duma and end up with 238, a slim majority in the 450-member lower house. Medvedev, who led the party into the election at Putin's behest, said voters had sent "a signal to the authorities" and hinted officials in regions where the party did badly could face dismissal if they do not shape up.
Cash Wad Takes Bullet For Suspect Drug Dealer (NYP)
A New Jersey man’s huge wad of cash kept a bullet from ripping into his thigh. But it wasn’t all good luck for Jaquan Taylor, 21, of Paterson — who had a $3,400 bankroll in his pocket — after cops allegedly found heroin and pot in his jacket, leading to his arrest for possession with intent to distribute. Taylor was shot in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn on Route 46 West in Totowa at 3 a.m. on Saturday.