A Romance With Risk That Brought On a Panic (NYT)
Although Mr. Corzine had been a United States senator, governor of New Jersey, co-head of Goldman Sachs and a confidant of leaders in Washington and Wall Street, he was at heart a trader, willing to gamble for a rich payoff. Dozens of interviews reveal that Mr. Corzine played a much larger, hands-on role in the firm’s high-stakes risk-taking than has previously been known...His obsession with trading was apparent to MF Global insiders over his 19-month tenure. Mr. Corzine compulsively traded for the firm on his BlackBerry during meetings, sometimes dashing out to check on the markets. And unusually for a chief executive, he became a core member of the group that traded using the firm’s money. His profits and losses appeared on a separate line in documents with his initials: JSC.
Moody's: Pressure Remains on Euro Sovereigns Despite Summit Deal (Reuters)
Twenty-six of the 27 European Union leaders on Friday agreed to pursue stricter budget rules for the single currency area and also to have euro zone states and others provide up to 200 billion euros ($267 billion) in bilateral loans to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help tackle the crisis. "In substance, however, the communique offers few new measures, and does not change our view that risks to the cohesion of the euro area continue to rise," Moody's said in its weekly credit report. "As we announced in November, unless credit market conditions stabilize in the near future, our ratings of all EU sovereigns will need to be revisited. The communique does not change that view, and we continue to expect to complete such a repositioning during the first quarter of 2012."
EU Banks Sit In Tangled Web (WSJ)
New data released last week by European banking regulators suggest the risks of banks suffering losses tied to European government bonds could be higher and more widespread than previously realized. The numbers show European banks have sold a total of €178 billion ($238 billion) worth of insurance policies, in the form of financial derivatives known as credit-default swaps, on bonds issued by the financially struggling Greek, Irish, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish governments. If those bonds default, as some investors fear they might, banks could be on the hook for making large payments to the holders of the swaps. The banks have at least partly insulated themselves from such potential losses by buying large quantities—roughly €169 billion worth—of credit-default swaps tied to the same bonds, apparently in large part from other European banks, according to European Banking Authority data.
Report Demands Tougher UK Banks Oversight (WSJ)
Major acquisitions by U.K. banks should be subject to regulatory approval and bank bosses should face penalties if their institution fails, the U.K.'s financial services regulator said Monday in a long-awaited report into the 2008 failure of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC. The Financial Services Authority said RBS managers made "multiple poor decisions" when they pursued an ill-fated takeover of European lender ABN Amro in 2007 that ultimately led to a £45.5 billion ($71.3 billion) bailout by U.K. taxpayers. Adair Turner, chairman of the FSA, said that future major acquisitions by U.K. lenders should require regulators' explicit approval and recommended that bank executives and directors face "personal consequences" in the event of another bank failure.
Occupy Protesters Seek to Shut West Coast Ports (AP)
Anti-Wall Street protesters up and down the West Coast are joining an effort to blockade some of the nation's busiest ports from Anchorage to San Diego. Demonstrators are scheduled to gather at 5:30 a.m. to march on the Port of Oakland, which Occupy protesters successfully shut down in November. The protests being billed as action against "Wall Street on the waterfront" are perhaps the Occupy movement's most dramatic gesture since police raids sent most remaining camps scattering last month. Demonstrators began forming those camps around the country about two months ago to protest what they call corporate greed and economic inequality. Organizers hope to draw thousands Monday to stand in solidarity with longshoremen and port truckers they say are being exploited.
Hey, I'm Not Dead Yet (KWTX)
A Pennsylvania man published an obituary for his still-living mother in an attempt to get paid bereavement time off from work, authorities say. Relatives called The Jeffersonian Democrat newspaper in Brookville, Pa., after the obit appeared to report that the woman was actually alive and well and to underscore that, the woman visited the paper, too. Brookville police charged Scott Bennett, 45, with disorderly conduct on Tuesday. Democrat editor Randy Bartley says he accepted the obituary in good faith after he was unable to confirm the funeral arrangements at press time. He told The Derrick newspaper Friday that the woman was very understanding. Police Chief Ken Dworek says Bennett wrote up the memorial notice because he didn't want to get fired for taking time off.
Euro Crisis Pits Germany and U.S. in Tactical Fight (NYT)
At the heart of the debate is the question of how far governments must bend to the power of markets. Mr. Obama sees retaining the stability of markets and the confidence of investors as a primary goal of government and a prerequisite for achieving any major changes in public policy. Mrs. Merkel views the financial industry with profound skepticism and argues, in almost moralistic fashion, that real change is impossible unless lenders and borrowers pay a high price for their mistakes.
Zynga IPO May Cap Busy Week for U.S. Offerings (Bloomberg)
Zynga, the largest maker of games on Facebook, luxury- clothing designer Kors Holdings and nine other companies are seeking as much as $3.8 billion in IPOs this week, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the most since the five days starting March 7, when HCA Holdings Inc. raised $4.4 billion.
No One Telling Who Took $586B in Fed Swaps (Bloomberg)
As part of a currency-swap plan active from 2007 to 2010 and revived to fight the European debt crisis, the Fed lends dollars to other central banks, which auction them to local commercial banks. Lending peaked at $586 billion in December 2008. While the transactions with other central banks are all disclosed, the Fed doesn’t track where the dollars ultimately end up, and European officials don’t share borrowers’ identities outside the continent.
Roof-riding dog tale still chasing Romney (The Star)
Back in 1983, Romney was struggling to cram the kids and their luggage into the family station wagon for the drive to the Lake Huron shores, where his family still owns a cottage at Beach O’ Pines, a mostly American enclave. “Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family’s hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack,” the Globe wrote of Romney, then a 36-year-old management consultant with Boston-based Bain and Company...“If you wouldn’t strap your child to the roof of your car, you have no business doing that to the family dog,” said Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “I don’t know who would find that acceptable.”