European Ministers Seek $261 Billion In IMF Crisis Funds (Bloomberg)
Euro-area finance ministers will hold a conference call at 3:30 p.m. Brussels time to discuss 200 billion euros ($261 billion) in additional funding through the International Monetary Fund and the mechanics of a so-called fiscal compact that was negotiated at a Dec. 9 European Union summit, according to two people familiar with the planning. “They’ll try to get as much done as they can before Christmas, but it’s doubtful they’ll put markets in a Christmas mood,” Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING Group in Brussels, said in an interview. “There is still so much uncertainty.”
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Is Dead (WSJ)
Mr. Kim died on Saturday of a heart attack while on a train, North Korea's state media said. A television news announcer, dressed in black and her voice quivering with emotion, said Monday the nation would unite behind Kim Jong Il's third son, Kim Jong Eun, as North Korea's new leader.
ECB President Draghi Warns on Euro Zone Break-Up (FT)
In his first interview since becoming ECB president on November 1, Mr Draghi said struggling eurozone countries that quit the currency bloc would face still greater economic pain. For remaining members, European Union law would have been broken and “you never know how it ends really,” he said. Countries that left and devalued their currency would create “a big inflation” and fail to escape from structural reforms that would still have to be implemented “but in a much weaker position,” Mr Draghi told the Financial Times.
Prince Alwaleed Invests $300M in Twitter (Bloomberg)
Alwaleed, ranked the richest Arab businessman this year by Arabian Business magazine, and his investment company agreed to buy a “strategic stake,” Kingdom Holding said today. Alwaleed is the largest individual investor in Citigroup Inc. (C) and his other investments include holdings in Apple Inc. and General Motors Co. Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding jumped as much as 8.9 percent on the local exchange.
RBS Considering Closure Of Equities Business (Bloomberg, earlier)
Shutting or selling the division, including U.K. stockbroker Hoare Govett, are among the options being considered by the bank’s board, though no final decision has been made yet, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions aren’t complete. An announcement is expected by the time the bank reports full-year earnings at the end of February, the people said. The equities unit employs about 1,000 people.
'Occupy' guys, including bishop, arrested in new anniversary protest (NYP)
Cops busted at least 35 protesters yesterday after they broke into a private park in Manhattan to mark the three-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. The marchers also shattered the window of a Starbucks on the corner of Varick and Spring Streets with a brick as they marched uptown...Among those arrested were Bishop George Packard, a former chaplain for the armed services and decorated Vietnam veteran who has acted as the liaison in negotiations between Trinity Church and protesters as the movement had sought permission to use the church owned property as a new base of operations.
S&P Cut Proves Absurd as Investors Prefer U.S. (Bloomberg)
Four months after Standard & Poor’s stripped the U.S. of its AAA credit rating and said the world’s biggest economy was no longer the safest of borrowers, dollar- denominated financial assets are doing nothing but appreciating. Government bonds have returned 4.4 percent, the dollar has gained 8.6 percent relative to a basket of currencies, and the S&P 500 Index of stocks has rallied 1.7 percent since the U.S. was cut to AA+ from AAA on Aug. 5. The cost for the nation to borrow has fallen to record lows since S&P said the U.S. was no longer risk-free, with the average monthly yield in November on 10-year notes below 2 percent for the first time since 1950.
Strategist: Economy 'Hostage' To Politicians In 2012 (CNBC)
The year ahead will see slow global economic growth combined with political uncertainty to create to a similar outlook for stock markets to 2011 with a significant chance of continued stock market volatility, according to a research note published by HSBC’s global head of equity strategy, Gary Evans. Evans said uncertainty over the euro zone would persist well into next year and that it would ultimately only come to an end when Germany was forced to change its policy over euro bonds and European Central Bank asset purchases, most likely by a political or economic crisis.
House Balks At Payroll Tax Deal (WSJ)
House Speaker John Boehner flatly ruled out approval of a Senate agreement to temporarily extend the payroll tax cut through February, leaving uncertain both the tax cut and other year-end business as Congress struggled to finish its work for 2011. Mr. Boehner said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that a two-month extension was a sign of congressional dysfunction. "How can you do tax policy for two months?" Mr. Boehner said. "We really do believe it's time for the Senate to work with the House to complete our business for the year. We've got two weeks to get this done."
Voters To Read Recovery Signs (WSJ)
After more than two years of frustrating fits and starts, the U.S. economy shows modest signs of picking up, raising the question of whether such improvements could be lasting or significant enough to affect the 2012 campaign debate. The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits has dropped, consumer spending has shown signs of resilience, and analysts estimate the economy's output in the fourth quarter is growing at its fastest pace since early 2010. On Friday, there was another dash of good economic news. The Labor Department said consumer prices, after surging earlier this year, were unchanged in November, a sign that inflation could be moderating. Car and energy prices dropped. The consumer price index was up 3.4% from a year earlier, down from an inflation rate of 3.5% in October and 3.9% in September. Those improvements are small and tentative, and there are plenty of reasons to think the growth pickup won't last. In any case, the economic situation is crucial for shaping the presidential campaign and President Barack Obama's hopes for re-election, because, though Election Day is 11 months off, history suggests it takes many months for voters' views of the economy to change.
Buyout Profits Keep Flowing to Romney (NYT)
An examination of Mr. Romney’s public financial disclosures, as well as interviews with former Bain partners, business associates and counselors to his campaign, reveals the extent of his financial relationship with Bain Capital and how it has allowed him to continue amassing a personal fortune while building a political career. Though Mr. Romney left Bain in early 1999, he received a share of the corporate buyout and investment profits enjoyed by partners from all Bain deals through February 2009: four global buyout funds and 18 other funds, more than twice as many over all as Mr. Romney had a share of the year he left. He was also given the right to invest his own money alongside his former partners. Because some of the funds and deals covered by Mr. Romney’s agreement will not fully wind down for several years, Mr. Romney is still entitled to a share of some of Bain’s profits. During his political career, Mr. Romney has promoted his experience as a businessman while deflecting criticism of layoffs caused by private equity deals by noting that he left Bain in 1999. But records and interviews show that in the years since, he has benefited from at least a few Bain deals that resulted in upheaval for companies, workers and communities.
Professor claims NYU fired him after he gave James Franco a 'D' (NYP)
James Franco’s tired James Dean act got an NYU professor booted from the school last year — after the teacher dared to give the overhyped Hollywood hunk a “D” for blowing off class, a lawsuit charges. José Angel Santana said he slapped the “127 Hours’’ star with the bad grade because he missed 12 of his 14 “Directing the Actor II” classes while pursuing a master’s in fine arts. Santana said he then suffered all kinds of drama — first from Franco, who publicly ridiculed him, then from his department, which axed him over the “D.” “The school has bent over backwards to create a Franco-friendly environment, that’s for sure,” Santana, 58, told The Post. “The university has done everything in its power to curry favor with James Franco.”