Ex-Countrywide CEO Faces Scrutiny on Loan (WSJ)
Countrywide Financial Corp. co-founder Angelo Mozilo may have directed the lender to extend preferential treatment on a 1998 loan to Republican Rep. Howard McKeon of California, according to a letter released Tuesday by a senior House Democrat. The letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) said that Countrywide records obtained as part of a congressional investigation of its VIP loan program indicate that Mr. McKeon was given "a significant discount on his VIP loan as a direct result of personal intervention" by Mr. Mozilo, who ran the mortgage giant at the time. Mr. McKeon is currently chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Mr. Cummings is the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. Separately, a person familiar with the investigation said another senior House Republican, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, received a $1 million loan in 2007 through the VIP program, which at times offered loans at rates unavailable to the general public. The loan terms aren't known.
Calpers Downsizes Housing Portfolio (WSJ)
In a major step toward winding down a two-decade program as the pension world's biggest player in the U.S. housing market, Calpers is selling a portfolio of 28 housing communities to a partnership between San Diego-based developer Newland Real Estate Group LLC and an affiliate of Japan's largest home-building company, Sekisui House Ltd. The portfolio, which includes 16,300 unbuilt home sites and thousands of acres of additional undeveloped land in 11 states, represents about one-fifth of Calpers' residential land portfolio. People familiar with the terms said the portfolio sold for between $500 million and $600 million.
BNY Mellon Reports Fourth Quarter Earnings of $505 Million or $0.42 Per Share (MarketWatch)
The bank reported fourth quarter net income applicable to common shareholders of $505 million, or $0.42 per common share, compared with $679 million, or $0.54 per common share, in the fourth quarter of 2010 and $651 million, or $0.53 per common share, in the third quarter of 2011.
Co-Founder Yang Resigns From Yahoo (WSJ)
Mr. Yang, 43 years old, said Tuesday he was resigning from Yahoo's board, severing ties to the company he co-founded with David Filo in 1995 while both were Stanford University graduate students. Mr. Yang also said he would leave the boards of Yahoo Japan Corp. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., in which Yahoo owns significant stakes. Mr. Yang has been under pressure for weeks, grappling with criticism over his multiple roles at the Sunnyvale, Calif., company—including co-founder, director, former chief executive and large shareholder. Some investors questioned whether Mr. Yang had conflicts of interest as Yahoo in recent months explored its strategic options, including whether to sell all or part of the company.
Denmark’s AAA to Survive, Fitch, S&P Say (Bloomberg)
“Denmark is not a country we are particularly worried about,” Fitch Managing Director Edward Parker said in an interview in Stockholm yesterday.
S&P Downgrades See Muted European Market Response (Bloomberg)
Investors are again downgrading the decision-making of Standard & Poor’s. Less than a week after the New York-based company cut its ratings of nine countries including France, the French 10-year bond is little changed at 3.08 percent and borrowing costs fell this week at the country’s sale of 8.59 billion euros ($11 billion) in bills. Spain, whose rating was lowered by two levels to A, sold debt at half the interest rate of a month ago.
Greek PM says creditors may have to take losses (MarketWatch)
Lucas Papademos said if Greece doesn't get full participation in a program in which bondholders would voluntarily write down $130 billion from Greece's $450 billion debt, the country may consider passing a law to force through private-sector haircuts.
Romney Says His Effective Tax Rate Is 'Probably Closer To 15%' (WSJ)
Mitt Romney hinted at the details of his personal tax records and took swipes at Republican opponent Rick Santorum in a press conference here Tuesday. Mr. Romney said his effective tax rate is “probably closer to the 15% rate than anything.”
Kim Jong-Il's Eldest Son: New Regime Will Fail (Slate)
What happens to sibling rivalries when one kid gets to be dictator of his own nation? The tell-all book comes out, that's what. Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-il's eldest son and the half-brother of Kim Jong-un, doesn't think his younger sibling will succeed at his new gig as the leader of North Korea, according to a book being published in Japan this week...Kim Jong-nam officially lost his chance to succeed his father when he was caught sneaking into Japan for a trip to Disneyland.
Goldman Sachs Earnings Preview: 4 Themes To Watch (Deal Journal)
The average estimate of analysts calls for Goldman to post $1.24 in earnings per share, on revenue of $6.54 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. Goldman’s revenue from fixed-income trading likely fell to $1.3 billion, off 9% from the third quarter and down 25% from a year earlier, according to analysts at Credit Suisse. Equity sales and trading also continued to deteriorate in the final three months of the year. Credit Suisse estimates that revenue from equity sales and trading dipped 12 % from a year earlier and by 17% from the third quarter.
World Bank Cuts Global Growth Forecast as Euro Region Contracts (Bloomberg)
The world economy will grow 2.5 percent this year, down from a June estimate of 3.6 percent, the Washington-based institution said. The euro area may contract 0.3 percent, compared with a previous estimate of a 1.8 percent gain. The U.S. growth outlook was cut to 2.2 percent from 2.9 percent. “Even achieving these much weaker outturns is very uncertain,” the World Bank said in its Global Economic Prospects report released today in Asia and yesterday in the U.S.
Pandit Feels Citi Heat On Expenses (WSJ)
At Citi, investors were particularly irked by the growth of expenses, which continues to outpace revenue. For much of the past year, Citi has attributed higher expenses to increased investment spending.
May Facebook IPO (NYP)
Facebook’s long-anticipated initial public offering is now likely to come in the third week of May, according to All Things Digital.
Pinkberry co-founder attacked homeless man with tire iron after panhandler had flashed tattoo in his direction, cops say (NYDN)
Ummm...WTF? "The co-founder of Pinkberry frozen yogurt attacked a homeless man with a tire iron after the panhandler flashed a sexually provocative tattoo in his direction, Los Angeles police said Tuesday. Young Lee, 47, was arrested Monday at Los Angeles International Airport on an outstanding felony warrant for aggravated assault related to the June 15 attack, the LAPD said in a release. Lee was arriving at LAX on a flight from South Korea. According to police records, Lee and another man had words with the homeless man, who was panhandling at the off ramp on a Los Angeles freeway. Lee and the other man chased and beat the homeless man, according to witnesses. The homeless man required hospitalization with a broken left forearm and cuts on his head."