In Bid for Clarity, Fed Delivers Opacity (WSJ)
As the Fed has tried to explain its thinking, investors have sometimes been caught scratching their heads. Wednesday's stock-market moves put that dynamic into sharp relief. Stock prices soared in the morning when Mr. Bernanke initially sounded reluctant to start reducing the size of the monthly bond purchases, dropped when he sounded like he was entertaining the idea, and then fell further when the Fed's May meeting minutes showed a variety of views on the timing.
The deeper agenda behind "Abenomics" (Reuters)
Abe's unlikely comeback was engineered by a corps of politicians who called themselves the "True Conservatives," many of whom share his commitment to loosening constitutional constraints on the military and restoring traditional values such as group harmony and pride in Japanese culture and history. While the cultural-political agenda is what drove them, Abe and his backers also came to realize that voters cared most about the economy, so this time, they made it the top priority. "Mr. Abe in his first term put more priority on revising the constitution than on the economy," said Yoichi Takahashi, a former finance ministry official who is an adviser to Abe. "Even now, I think that is the case. But I think he realized that in terms of order of priority, he had to work on the economy first."
EU rushes out corporate tax transparency law (FT)
Michel Barnier, EU commissioner for the single market, is working on legislative options for the disclosure rules, including by amending an existing proposal from April on corporate reporting of social and environmental issues. ... Mr Barnier told the Financial Times: “It is necessary that large companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon that we have recently spoken a lot about – but not only these – are obliged to report how much tax they pay to whom and where.”
Bank’s Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills (DealBook)
P&G Says A.G. Lafley Rejoins as Chairman, CEO (Bloomberg)
Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) is replacing Chief Executive Officer Bob McDonald with his predecessor, A.G. Lafley, as the world’s largest consumer products maker struggles to rekindle growth at home and abroad. McDonald embarked on a turnaround plan last year to cut $10 billion in costs through 2016 and renew focus on the company’s leading businesses after losing market share to such rivals as Unilever. Activist investor Bill Ackman bought a stake valued at $1.8 billion last year and pushed to replace McDonald.
NJ investigators say bars used rubbing alcohol and dirty water - and sold it as top-shelf booze (NYDN)
Rubbing alcohol, dirty water or bottom-shelf booze — that’s what investigators say 29 New Jersey bars and restaurants used in lieu of premium liquor. State officials busted the skeevy taverns, including 13 TGI Fridays locations, during a raid Thursday titled “Operation Swill.” From Wycoff south to Marmora, officials said at a Trenton news conference that bar keeps pulled the wool over patrons’ eyes — and poured well booze down their throats — despite orders for high-end premium drinks. ... Investigators didn’t release which bars used the rubbing alcohol or dirty water.
Asia Goes on a Debt Binge as Much of World Sobers Up (WSJ)
Debt loads in Asia's emerging economies—gauged by public and private debt as a percentage of gross domestic product—now exceed what they were in 1997, when Asia went into a financial crisis that lasted for several years. Much of the run-up has come over the last four years. The overall debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 155% in mid-2012, from 133% in 2008, according to the most recent data from McKinsey Global Institute, a unit of consulting firm McKinsey & Co. China, the world's second-largest economy, has led the borrowing binge. China's debt-to-GDP rose to 183% in mid-2012, from 153% in 2008, according to McKinsey. Some economists, including Nomura Holdings Inc.'s 8604.TO -1.14% Zhiwei Zhang, say China's debt-to-GDP ratio has risen higher and faster, to above 200%, based on government data that more fully incorporate nontraditional "shadow" lending institutions such as trust companies, which operate in parallel to the mainstream banking system.
Spain’s banks face €10bn more provisions (FT)
Spanish banks will need to put aside extra provisions of up to €10bn to cover loans that borrowers will struggle to repay, according to an internal estimate by the Bank of Spain. According to recent data, Spanish banks rolled over more than €200bn of loans before they expired – often because corporate borrowers would be unable to repay their debt on time and in full. The €10bn estimate is the first official assessment of the likely impact of the central bank’s new approach towards these refinanced loans.
How Mervyn King Lost the Battle of Britain’s Banks (WSJ / Simon Nixon)
For the past year, the U.K. banking sector has had to contend with a destabilizing campaign of regulatory innuendo. During that time, Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn and his colleagues on the Financial Policy Committee bombarded the public with harum-scarum reports and speeches that claimed U.K. banks were woefully undercapitalized and urged them to raise fresh equity. In November, the capital hole was said to be up to GBP60 billion; by March it had been revised down to GBP12.5 billion. Neither the banks nor the public were ever allowed to know which institutions were hiding these shortfalls or what assumptions underlaid the BOE’s headline-grabbing assertions. But two brief statements on Wednesday by Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland confirmed that this capital hole has now vanished. Neither will be issuing fresh capital. Mr. King and his FPC allies have been comprehensively defeated.
Banker Gladstone Paid Less Than Janitor Rises Arranging Futures (Bloomberg)
[New] rules are accelerating the transformation caused by the financial crisis that began six years ago as well as the mergers and acquisitions among national stock and futures exchanges, most of them member-owned, into publicly held international companies. Those M&A deals have placed a premium on bankers like [Jane] Gladstone, the senior managing director for Evercore’s financial services corporate advisory business in New York, Caroline Silver of Moelis & Co., William Cruger of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Christian Lown of Morgan Stanley. They’ve made their careers by knowing details of how swaps trade or what the requirement to clear transactions means for the industry as well as how to answer the needs of exchange CEOs. ... “It’s not uncommon for Jane to be the single most productive partner in the firm for the year,” said Altman, 66, a U.S. deputy Treasury secretary from 1993 to 1995.
Florida Man Reveals Murder Plans to Police After Butt-Dialing 911 (Gawker)
Law enforcement officials in Florida believe they know who was behind the May 5th shooting death of a Lauderhill man — because the mastermind accidentally butt-dialed 911 and practically confessed to the crime. Scott Simon, 24, was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of 33-year-old Nicholas Walker after Simon phoned 911 by mistake and was recorded telling another person that he intends to follow Walker home and murder him.