Facebook's Goal: to Be a Blue Chip (WSJ)
...interviews with Mr. Zuckerberg and others inside Facebook reveal the eight-year-old company is trying to emulate the influence, staying power, and meticulousness of the biggest technology companies. Since last year, Facebook executives have been crafting dummy scripts for quarterly earnings calls, addressing imaginary questions from analysts about the company's revenue and profit, people familiar with the matter say. They have even written a top-secret draft of an IPO prospectus, a role traditionally left to bankers. The company's chief financial officer, David Ebersman, has been professionally auditing Facebook's financial statements each quarter, say people familiar with the matter, and avoiding the accounting approaches that raised questions for Groupon and Zynga...Even the CEO's trademark Adidas flip-flops are growing up. Mr. Zuckerberg, 27, has upgraded to Brooks running shoes and went so far as to wear a dark blue tie and sports coat when President Obama visited in April—a sartorial move he was once loathe to take for the many bankers, lawyers and CEOs he meets.
Jobless Claims in U.S. Decrease to Lowest Since April 2008 (Bloomberg)
Jobless claims fell by 4,000 to 364,000 in the week ended Dec. 17, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected an increase to 380,000. “Claims have been improving pretty rapidly,” said Sam Coffin, an economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, who forecast jobless applications would fall to 365,000. “The labor market is gaining some momentum. The question about the first half of next year is how rapid growth is.”
Fitch Warns US Over AAA Credit Rating Again (Reuters)
Fitch Ratings on Wednesday warned again that the United States' rising debt burden was not consistent with maintaining the country's top AAA credit rating, but said there would likely be no decision on whether to cut the rating before 2013.
Swiss Bankers' Millionaire Dreams Fade (Bloomberg)
When Werner Rueegg managed wealth for clients of Credit Suisse Group AG, Oswald Gruebel, who became chief executive officer at the Zurich-based bank, promised to make him rich. “Ossie Gruebel told us: ‘To serve a millionaire, you have to be a millionaire and I promise you I will make you a millionaire,’” said Rueegg, 48, who has spent the last three years of a 28-year career at Bank Sarasin & Cie. AG. (BSAN). Those days may be over with the average pay of Swiss private bankers declining more than 6 percent to 245,000 Swiss francs ($263,000) this year from 2008, according to data compiled by Boston Consulting Group.
RBS Chairman Predicts 'Small Country' Out of Euro Zone (Reuters)
Royal Bank of Scotland's chairman expects a "small country" to leave the euro zone, telling Sky News this scenario would put more strain on the world's banking system. "I think it is likely that one country, a small country, will drop out," Philip Hampton said in a prerecorded program scheduled to be broadcast on Thursday. "It could be any of them because I think that some of these things will be driven by political events as much as by economic circumstances and social unrest, and all of those sorts of things. But I think there is a very good chance that one country will fall out," he said.
White Castle To Serve Alcohol? (NYDN)
White Castle, the slider shack where drunks go to soak up their suds, now offers beer on its menu. At a Lafayette, Ind., greasy spoon, where a traditional White Castle is fused with a BBQ joint called Blaze Modern BBQ, beer and wine are served with the belly bombers, Jamie Richardson told the Daily News. White Castle isn’t rolling out barrels of booze at all its locations just yet, the company says. “For now, this is a one-restaurant test,” Richardson told the Daily News. “Our thought is to learn as much as we can from customers and our team members to see if this is something that might have merit for other locations.”
Greece’s Creditors Resist Push for More Losses (Bloomberg)
Lenders want the 70 billion euros ($91 billion) of new bonds the government will issue in return for existing securities to carry a coupon of about 5 percent, said the people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private. The IMF is pushing for creditors to accept a smaller coupon in order to reduce Greece’s debt-to-gross domestic product ratio to 120 percent by 2020, a key element of the Oct. 27 agreement by European Union leaders, the people said. National Bank of Greece SA’s Chairman Apostolos Tamvakakis told shareholders in a meeting in Athens today that he hopes talks on the debt swap will end soon.
Collapse in M&A Amid Debt Turbulence (FT)
Fourth-quarter M&A volumes fell 32 percent to $375.3 billion from the previous three months, led by a 41 per cent decline in Europe. The drop, combined with a pullback in equity issuance amid turbulent markets, contributed to an 8 per cent fall in investment banking fees to $72.6bn for 2011, against 2010. In Europe, fees totalled only $2.57 billion across all products, the worst quarter since records began at data-provider Thomson Reuters in 2000.
Italy's Monti Says Country Will Now Turn to Growth (Reuters)
Addressing the upper house of parliament before a confidence vote to seal the 33-billion-euro budget, Monti said his technocrat government had been forced to rush through the package of spending cuts and tax hikes to restore international market confidence in Italy. Now it would turn to reversing Italy's decade of stagnant growth, Monti said.
Europe Banks Rush To Grab Lifeline (WSJ)
Hundreds of euro-zone lenders took out €489.19 billion ($640 billion) in low-interest loans from the European Central Bank on Wednesday, as the currency area extended a massive financial lifeline to its struggling banking industry. The unexpectedly heavy demand from 523 banks for the three-year loans highlighted the severity of Europe's financial crisis, while also stirring some hopes that the action could help defuse it, or at least prevent it from getting worse.
Nets forward Humphries booed by Garden crowd (NYP)
Every time Nets forward Kris Humphries touched the ball during the 5:40 he played during the second quarter of last night’s 88-82 loss to the Knicks at the Garden, he was serenaded with a tidal wave of deafening boos — a reaction normally reserved only for an opposing superstar.