RBS Sees Widened Loss (WSJ)
The bank said Thursday that it slumped to a 2011 full-year net loss of nearly £2 billion ($3.13 billion) as the euro-zone crisis continued to weigh on its investment banking division and restructuring costs hammered the U.K. bank's bottom line. RBS which is 83%-owned by the U.K. government, saw full-year revenue tumble 11% to £26.6 billion despite lower impairment charges and a hefty gain on the fair value of its own debt. Despite media and political pressure to lower remuneration, the bank paid out nearly £1 billion in bonuses for the year. Chief Executive Stephen Hester said the results showed that the bank was progressing in the right direction and defended the RBS's bonus pool, saying it was important to incentivize staff. "Our job is to defuse the biggest-ever time bomb put in a banking balance sheet," he told a conference call. "In this respect, we are making progress."
Credit Agricole posts Q4 loss as Greece bites (AP)
Credit Agricole SA reported a euro3.07 billion ($4.06 billion) net loss in the fourth quarter on Thursday, as an intensifying European debt crisis drove down the value of its Greek bonds and shaved billions off the bank's bottom line. Credit Agricole — hit by the Greek debt crisis largely through its ownership of Greek bank Emporiki — said fourth-quarter net profit plunged nearly tenfold from a loss of euro328 million in the last quarter of 2010. It also posted a net loss for 2011 of euro1.47 billion.
SEC May Ticket Speeding Traders (WSJ)
SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said a large portion of equities trading has little to do with "the fundamentals of the company that's being traded." She said it had more to do with "the minuscule aberrational price move" that computer-assisted traders with direct connections to the exchange can "jump on" in fractions of a second. Such activity "worries me," Ms. Schapiro said in a breakfast meeting Wednesday with reporters. One solution would be forcing high-frequency traders to pay for the canceled trades that make up nine-tenths of all orders, she said.
Investigators Probe a Rush at MF Global to Move Cash (WSJ)
Federal regulators at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. bankruptcy trustee for MF Global's brokerage unit are examining two separate transfers from customer accounts, including a previously undisclosed $165 million transaction, said people familiar with the matter. They said some of the investigators are poring over emails and records related to these and other money transfers.
Goldman Sachs experiencing executive exodus (NYP)
Yesterday, Chaim Howard Wietschner, 44, became the latest partner to leave. An internal announcement revealed that the senior hedge fund honcho was set to bolt. Named a partner in November 2002, Wietschner will follow more than 50 partners who have opted to “retire” over the past several months. Indeed, Wietschner’s departure is the third in the past two weeks.
Facebook Insiders Push $100 Billon Value (Bloomberg)
“Facebook is a blue-chip stock and it’s not even public yet,” said Kevin Landis, portfolio manager for the Firsthand Technology Value Fund in San Jose, California. Facebook jumped as high as $44 this month in private trading, valuing the company at $103 billion and leaving it higher than when Landis bought stock at about $30 to $31 in October. He said he aims to add to his holdings.
Prostitution-themed Wódka vodka billboard near Hunts Point is removed (NYDN)
A day after Bronx community leaders blasted a billboard selling vodka with a pitch about prostitution, the sign came down. The ad for Wódka vodka read “Escort Quality, Hooker Pricing” and hung over the Bruckner Expressway leading to Hunts Point, an area still battling an image as a place to buy sex. After learning neighbors were fuming over the sign, the ad’s creators agreed to nix it.
Finance Ministers: UK and Japan Warn Volcker Rule Poses Threat to Recovery (FT)
George Osborne, the British chancellor, has joined forces with Jun Azumi, his Japanese counterpart, in warning in a column in today’s Financial Times that the U.S. banking reforms could make it “more difficult, costlier and riskier for countries to issue and distribute debt”, at a time when many eurozone countries are already under strain.
EU Expects 2012 Recession (WSJ)
JPMorgan Places $72 Billion Bet on Global Homeowners (Bloomberg)
JPMorgan has more than tripled its holdings of mortgage securities without U.S. government guarantees to $72 billion as the nation’s biggest bank bets on borrowers from outside the country it calls home. The investments swelled $8.4 billion in the fourth quarter, climbing from $52.8 billion at the end of 2010 and $19 billion the prior year, according to regulatory data released last week. The bank has primarily been adding debt from outside the U.S., including bonds tied to U.K. and Dutch mortgages, Securities and Exchange Commission filings by New York-based JPMorgan show.
BOJ Head Warns of Risk if JGB Yields Rise (WSJ)
Japan's banks have continued to pour money into government debt, despite near-record low yields and the nation's deteriorating fiscal conditions. But any sudden rise in interest rates could expose the banks to trillions of yen in losses, Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa said in response to a lawmaker's question at a parliamentary committee on the strong yen and deflation.
Tune in and keep Fido happy while you're away? (LA Times)
DOGTV, a new cable channel, may help both of you. The channel, launched recently in San Diego, is designed to provide companionship for dogs and reduce stress caused by an owner’s absence, said Ron Levi, co-founder and chief content creator. Although DOGTV’s content isn’t breed specific, Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior, says visually oriented “sighthounds,” including whippets and greyhounds, may be more inclined to watch than “scenthounds” such as basset hounds, which tend to to keep their nose to the ground as they focus on smells...The three phases of DOGTV’S programming are stimulation (to encourage playfulness), relaxation (to soothe) and exposure (to habituate dogs to daily stimuli that may cause stress such as crowds, a vacuum cleaner or a toddler in their face). Stimulation sequences may feature a dog playing with a toy or blue butterflies flitting across the screen. Relaxation segments feature pastoral settings (often including a dog lying down) and gentle piano music. Exposure segments tend to show dogs dealing with stressors such as a vacuum cleaner.