SAC’s Steinberg went bad as income plunged: prosecutors (NYP)
As Steinberg’s total pay sank to that level in 2008 from about $5 million the prior year, the 41-year-old hedgie started using illegal insider tips to score some very profitable trades, a federal court jury was told Thursday. Steinberg used illegal tips on Dell in 2008, supplied by his analyst Jon Horvath, to score huge profits, the government has charged. SAC’s CFO Dan Berkowitz told the jury in Manhattan federal court that Steinberg’s total pay took a hit in 2008 as Wall Street reeled from the financial crash.
Draghi Makes Case For Low ECB Rates (WSJ)
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi reinforced his message to a German audience Friday that the central bank's low interest rates help savers by supporting the economy, countering concerns that low rates depress savers' returns. Mr. Draghi and the ECB have both faced some criticism in Germany, a country with an entrenched belief in sound money and a fear of inflation, since the ECB cut its main interest rate to a record low earlier this month. "It is important to understand that interest rates are low because the economy is weak. If we raised rates, we would further depress the economy, people would lose their jobs, and then their savings would be lower for longer," Mr. Draghi said in a speech at the European Banking Congress here.
German Business Confidence Increases as Recovery on Track (Bloomberg)
German companies are becoming more optimistic as they invest to take advantage of domestic unemployment near a two-decade low and the end of the euro area’s longest-ever recession. Investor confidence rose to the highest level in four years in November and the Bundesbank said this week that the nation’s economy remains on a “solid growth path.”
IMF Urges Spanish Banks to Raise Capital (WSJ)
The International Monetary Fund recommended Friday that Spanish banks raise more capital and keep their dividend payments capped in 2014 to facilitate lending to an economy constrained by tight credit. A fragile economic environment and small buffers of excess capital underscore "the need for Spanish banks to continue efforts to maintain recently achieved capital levels in ways that do not rely excessively on credit contraction," the IMF said in a report on the country's progress in cleaning up its banking industry.
Professional chicken catcher fired over his attitude can't get jobless aid, Pa. court says (PennLive)
Professional chicken catcher Joshua Spickler was fired in January over what his ex-employer said was a bad attitude. On Thursday, Commonwealth Court concluded that was enough to deny the Northumberland County man unemployment compensation benefits, too, on grounds that his supposed negativity constituted willful misconduct. The state court turned aside Spickler's arguments that the evidence his attitude had declined to the point where it was negatively affecting co-workers at B&B Catching Services Inc. was nothing but hearsay. According to court filings, Spickler worked at B&B in Dornsife for nearly five years. His former employer claimed his attitude started going downhill after he and co-workers were told in May 2012 that their bonuses would be reduced because of a downturn in business. Spickler's alleged poor attitude resulted first in his demotion from a crew chief post. His employers claimed he started refusing orders, cut up a company gas card and spoke ill of the firm to fellow employees. He was warned that he could be fired if he didn't change his ways, B&B officials claimed.
Critics say Sears CEO aims for liquidation (NYP)
Hedge-fund tycoon Eddie Lampert insisted Thursday that he’s bent on a “transformation” of Sears Holdings as its chairman and CEO, envisioning a high-tech retailer that more deftly serves its shoppers. “We are proactively transforming our business to a member-centric integrated retailer,” he said, as Sears’s third-quarter loss widened to $534 million on a 6.6-percent sales drop. Critics say these strategies are gimmicks to mask Lampert’s plan to milk the company’s cash for as long as he can before finally liquidating the chain. Sears also said it’s still looking to sell stores and spin off assets including Lands’ End and its Auto Centers to shore up fast-dwindling cash reserves. “Sears is going the way of the Titanic, and Eddie is busy selling off the deck chairs,” said Robin Lewis, CEO and managing editor of the Robin Report.
Bank of America Intern’s 5 A.M. E-Mail Before Death Worried Mom (Bloomberg)
“It may be that Moritz had been working so hard that his fatigue was a trigger for the seizure that killed him,” Coroner Mary Hassell said at the inquest today. “But that is only a possibility.” The plight of Erhardt prompted Bank of America to set up a panel of senior managers to “review all aspects of this tragedy,” the bank said following his death. Erhardt was found unconscious at Claredale House, a student residential facility in East London. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:34 p.m. after being treated by paramedics. “Moritz had a natural cause of death, though it’s not so natural that a young man should die like this,” Hassell said. Erhardt’s parents told the coroner that their son contacted them the day before his death in a 5 a.m. e-mail. “My wife noticed in his last week that he didn’t get enough sleep,” Hans-Georg Dieterle, his father, said. “We thought this might be a risk in terms of his epilepsy.”
Party City Planning 2014 IPO (Reuters)
Party City, the largest US party goods retailer acquired just over a year ago by buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners for $2.69 billion, is preparing for an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter. Thomas H. Lee is working with banks including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley on a plan that could see shares of the 800-unit chain begin trading publicly in the first half of 2014, those people said. The full syndicate of underwriters has yet to be finalized so plans are fluid, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified because the discussions between Party City and the banks are confidential.
Miss Italia Finalist Busted In Milan For Drug Trafficking (NYDN)
Samantha Scarlino, 32, was detained in a Milan hotel this week after being accused of delivering cash from Italy to drug cartel bosses in Peru. The stunning Scarlino was part of a gang that allegedly tried to import vast quantities of the narcotic into Europe — and Scarlino reportedly was nose-deep in a 1,100-pound exchange. Scarlino was a finalist in the 1999 edition of the beauty pageant when she was 17. The busty TV star and film actress was among 22 people nabbed in the drug sting. Cops are still hunting a 60-year-old from Milan who they believe is the king-pin, according to the Corriere Del Mezzogiorno.