Fitch Downgrades Greece (WSJ)
Fitch Ratings downgraded Greece's credit rating to C from triple-C Wednesday after confirmation of the country's second bailout package, which includes a debt exchange that will force bondholders to take a loss on their holdings of Greek debt. "The rating action is in line with Fitch's statement on 6 June 2011, which outlined its rating approach to a sovereign-debt exchange," the ratings company said. Fitch said it will lower its rating on the country's sovereign bonds to "restricted default" upon the completion of the debt exchange aimed at reducing the country's debt burden.
Greek Bailout Wins Two Cheers From Wary Investors (Bloomberg)
“The deal may have removed near-term uncertainty, it won’t immediately change our investment view,” said Helen Roberts, who oversees 27 billion pounds ($43 billion) as head of government bonds at F&C Asset Management in London. “People said the right thing, now they need to do the right thing. It’s a hard environment to implement austerity measures. It’s a worry that the Greek government might not be able to do much even though they are fully committed to the agreement.”
Obama Proposes Tax Revamp (WSJ)
The Obama administration will propose lowering the top income-tax rate for corporations to 28% from 35% but would raise overall tax revenue by eliminating dozens of popular deductions in an effort to restructure the corporate tax code. The proposal, which will be announced Wednesday, would lower the "effective" tax rate on manufacturers to "no more than 25%," according to a senior administration official, down from the current average rate of about 32%. It raises taxes on oil and gas companies that would lose many large deductions and subsidies. The plan would require U.S. companies operating overseas to pay—for the first time—a minimum tax rate on their foreign earnings.
Citigroup ‘Defrauded’ Fannie, Freddie: Whistle-Blower (Bloomberg)
Citigroup, which last week admitted breaking Federal Housing Administration rules and paid a fine, also violated regulations for home loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to a whistle-blower’s complaint. The bank “defrauded, falsified information or misled federal government entities” by selling or securing insurance for mortgages with defects such as improper appraisals and paperwork errors and not reporting them as required, Sherry Hunt, a Citigroup quality-assurance vice president, said in her complaint, which was unsealed yesterday. It was filed under the False Claims Act in federal court in Manhattan in August.
Aimed at banks, Volcker Rule hits unlikely targets (Reuters)
The Volcker Rule was designed to curb the risks that banks take with depositor dollars, a practice known as proprietary trading. But the rule risks ensnaring public agencies ranging from housing agencies to hospital authorities because the way muni bonds are sold and traded results in banks risking their own capital -- the very practice banned under the Volcker Rule. And although the rule, a key component of the Dodd-Frank reform law passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, did include an exemption to ensure that state and local governments would still be able to raise money in the municipal bond market, it left a gaping hole. As a result, state and local authorities are worried that the rule will inhibit banks from underwriting bonds and trading, inadvertently driving up water and sewer bills, delaying public transportation projects and making affordable housing scarcer unless changes are made.
How Waiters Read Your Table (WSJ)
What looks like a convivial scene is a waiter's nightmare: people at a table, chatting away, menus closed with drinks in their hands. Yet when Alex Martin, a 26-year-old waiter at Blue Smoke restaurant in New York, tried to take their order "they didn't even look up," he says. "If you are standing there for more than three seconds it's like an eternity." At such times, Mr. Martin employs his go-to strategy of "the hand on the table." Placing down his palm draws the group's eyes up and out of the conversation, interrupting but without being pushy, he says. A few minutes later the men had ordered and quickly returned to chatting...Even chain restaurants like Denny's, T.G.I. Friday's, and Romano's Macaroni Grill are focusing more on personalized service by training staff to note body language, eye contact and offhand remarks, hoping to make service feel less mechanical. Traditionally, eateries taught waiters to follow a script and push add-ons like desserts and drinks...As part of a recent, two-week training course at the Cheesecake Factory in Burlington, Mass., Lauren McDonagh, 23 years old, sat with four other new employees before the lunch rush. They heard tips on how to interact with tables with children (if a kid says he doesn't like green things, don't use lettuce, even as a garnish), first-time guests (walk them to the restroom, don't point), and celebrations (get at least five employees to sing "Happy Birthday").
Chunks Of Queensboro Bridge Land On Driver (NYP)
Andrew Campbell, 40, of Bergenfield, was heading to an indoor soccer game in Jackson Heights when he said a large screw and a piece of metal shattered the windshield of his white luxury car about 7 p.m. on the bridge's lower level. "I was stunned, it sounded like a gunshot when it hit the windshield," Campbell said. "It was totally unexpected. I was very shocked. I'm grateful I'm okay." Campbell said he was not injured by the glass, and kept driving until he reached Long Island City, where he parked near a nearby footbridge.
HSBC Said to Fund Bankers’ Cash Bonuses by Issuing New Shares (Bloomberg)
The bank will fund cash bonuses exceeding 50,000 pounds ($78,600) by issuing stock rather than eroding capital, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter is private. The plan doesn’t limit cash bonuses, the person said.
The world's most expensive meal? City high-flyer in court battle over a '£1.7m lunch' (DM)
Fahim Imam-Sadeque was head of sales for the UK, Middle East and Australia for BlueBay, one of Europe’s largest specialist managers of fixed-income credit and alternative products, managing assets of more than £24billion. He left the firm last December after agreeing a deal in July 2011 and was entitled to keep fund units worth £1.7million, according to the writ. His gardening leave started on August 23 last year just after he accepted an offer to join Goldbridge Capital Partners as head of sales and marketing from January 3 this year, the court will hear. BlueBay wrote to him on December 22, claiming he was in breach of their agreement by trying to poach his colleague Damian Nixon. Imam-Sadeque says his email exchange with Nixon was innocuous and that he emailed him on August 4 last year saying, ‘Coffee today?’. Nixon replied that he was free between 11am and 4pm and Imam-Sadeque replied, ‘OK, you can take me for lunch’, the writ says.
UBS To Issue More Loss-Obsorbing Capital (CNBC)
"Today's deal marks the beginning of an issuance program as we build our loss-absorbing capital base to meet FINMA and the Basel Committee requirements for systemically important banks well in advance of the regulatory deadlines," UBS's financial head Tom Naratil said.
French police question DSK for second day over prostitution ring (NYP)
Strauss-Kahn presented himself at the Lille police station at 9:00am local time Tuesday. He is being questioned with regard to an investigation for "complicity in a prostitution network" and "aiding and abetting in the misappropriation of company assets," a spokeswoman at the Lille prosecutor's office said.
Man Who Paid Teens to Spit on Him Acquitted of Sex Charges (KTLA)
A Los Angeles man has been found not guilty of paying high school students to spit in his face and yell profanities at him for sexual gratification. Charles Hersel was arrested in 2009 during a sting operation at a Thousand Oaks mall. Westlake High School students said Hersel paid them to yell profanities, spit and slap his face, according to officials. Several students also said he offered them cash to urinate and defecate on him, Ventura County sheriff's detectives said. Hersel was charged with four counts of annoying and molesting a child. During the trial Hersel's lawyer, Ron Bamieh, admitted the 41-year old paid more than a dozen teenagers to do those acts, but said the acts were not for sexual gratification.