Diverse Menu of Bonds Is Served Up to Investors (WSJ)
With corporate-debt issuance racing toward a record, some large companies are rolling out unusual offerings in a bid to serve the bond market's every nook and cranny. Recent weeks have brought a $500 million "green bond" from Bank of America Corp., which has pledged to use the proceeds to finance renewable-energy and energy-efficiency projects, and a $1 billion Goldman Sachs Group bond that offers variable interest rates for 10 years, much longer than normal. The sales underscore the robust appetite for debt issued by well-known, highly rated issuers and come at a time when low interest rates have put a premium on income-generating assets and a roaring stock-market rally has prompted some more-conservative investors to diversify.
Bull Market Shows No Sign of Death With Yellen Support (Bloomberg)
“The weakness in jobs is continuing fodder for the Fed to fulfill its most recent and steadfast comments about the support of the economy,” Holland, who oversees more than $4 billion in New York, said in a Nov. 26 phone interview. “Until the labor market gets better, the two parts of dual mandate have to be served,” he said.
No Penalties Planned in Swaps Probe (WSJ)
A four-year-old U.S. Justice Department civil probe into allegations that large banks and others conspired to thwart competition in the $24.3 trillion market for credit-default swaps is winding down and penalties aren't planned, said people familiar with the matter.
Nobel Prize economist warns of U.S. stock market bubble (Reuters)
"I am not yet sounding the alarm. But in many countries stock exchanges are at a high level and prices have risen sharply in some property markets," Shiller told Sunday's Der Spiegel magazine. "That could end badly," he said. "I am most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market. Also because our economy is still weak and vulnerable," he said, describing the financial and technology sectors as overvalued.
My life as a call girl in Love Guv ring (NYP)
"Going full time as an escort with the Emperors Club was a life-enhancing experience. And the sex wasn’t as difficult as people might expect...the one I’ll always remember, my dream client, was a sexy French restaurateur. I knew who he was before we met in his room at the Hudson Hotel — I had Googled him, something I often did with clients. He greeted me at the door with a glass of wine and a gift bag from Victoria’s Secret, a kind gesture that wasn’t expected or required. I tried on the lingerie, and we took full advantage of the mirror against the wall. I didn’t expect I would ever be so turned on by a man who paid me to be with him, but this was a pleasant surprise. I insisted we fit a second round in before our time was up...Another client was an older man, probably 40 years my senior, with a thin upper lip that covered slightly yellowed teeth. And as Southern men are said to be, he was very much a gentleman. He knew me as Ashley because he had selected me from the higher-end “Icon Model” portfolio. He was the first of only two clients to meet Ashley. This meant he paid $5,400 for the two hours as opposed to the $3,000 I would have made as Raquel. Icon Models had interests like classical music and equestrian sports. They hunted pheasant, studied at Oxford, knew the difference between a watch and a timepiece and could participate in a debate over the superiority of Walker Black versus Laphroaig. They had pedigree, or at least the ability to appear like they did. They also had an expensive wardrobe, the ability to sit up straight, speak proper English and pretend for a couple of hours that they were genuinely interested in the hobbies and fineries of the ruling class. I wore my most elegant pieces: diamonds, Gucci dress, Prada heels, a golden silk pashmina and Agent Provocateur underneath. The only thing that wasn’t designer was my clutch, but it matched my shoes and was just big enough to fit a nice stack of cash. I sipped a martini, and he enjoyed a scotch on the rocks. He told me about his family. Unfortunately, his wife didn’t care to be affectionate with him anymore. It was not an unusual story, and I was happy to fill the void. He had children and grandchildren. We cuddled and caressed. He needed the affection. At the end, he told me that I was a wonderful companion and that he would love to meet again. Nobody had ever called me a wonderful companion. I put a lot of love into my visit with him, and I was touched by his compliment. Despite his age and looks, he was a great client. What I didn’t realize was that he would also be my last. The Emperors Club was busted; the FBI showed up at my door, and I had to hire an attorney. I signed a proffer agreement with the feds; they asked me to identify people in photos, but it was clear I had no information they didn’t already have from their surveillance."
Moody's upgrades Greece's debt rating (FT)
Moody's, the international rating agency, has upgraded Greece by two notches, reflecting good progress with fiscal consolidation despite continued recession and fragile political stability. The upgrade from Caa3 to single C with a stable rating still leaves Greek sovereign bonds deep in junk territory, but supports the coalition government's forecast of a primary budget surplus this year before debt repayments, rising to 1.5 per cent of output in 2014.
Krispy Kreme's Doughnuts Aren't the Only Thing Rich (WSJ)
Openings in locales such as Singapore, Seoul, Bogotá and Moscow are creating nearly as much buzz as the 1996 debut in New York that inspired the first Krispy Kreme mania in the early 2000s. Once again, though, it seems things have gone too far. There is no sign of the financial snafus that slammed the company a decade ago, but growth isn't all it seems. Krispy Kreme trades at over 34 times the next 12 months' earnings—rich compared even with also-hot Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. at 28 times. And healthy trends at company-owned stores mask some disturbing signs in the international-franchise part of the business. Same-store sales in the fiscal second quarter in that segment fell by 13% versus a year earlier. Overall they grew by just 0.5% as the store count expanded nearly 15%. What's more, domestic company stores are growing fast but aren't very profitable. An expansion into coffee may help, although it sets up a collision with Dunkin and Starbucks Corp.
Sony seeks ‘at least one new director’ (NYP)
Sony, under pressure to cut costs and shake up its moribund business, is looking for new blood for its board, The Post has learned. The Japanese media and electronics giant is seeking to add at least one new director and has approached several US-based media executives, according to sources familiar with the search. The company has been under attack from activist investor Dan Loeb since May, when his Third Point hedge fund proposed that Sony spin off its entertainment arm. Loeb has been seeking a seat, although it’s unclear if Sony is open to the idea. While Sony rejected Loeb’s proposal in August, CEO Kazuo Hirai has vowed to be more transparent about the company’s entertainment business, which includes Sony Pictures and Sony Music Entertainment.
Italian Banks' Woes Hurt Small Firms (WSJ)
The woes of smaller banks like Banca Marche are washing over the millions of small Italian businesses that depend on them for financing. Moreover, the deep ties the banks have to Italy's small towns mean that the consequent losses in banking jobs, share prices and even charitable donations weigh heavily on some local communities. Small and midtier banks like Banca Marche account for about half of overall lending in the country. In turn, Italian companies rely on banks for about 70% of their funding, more than double the rate in the U.K. or U.S., according to Bank of Italy data.
Moonshine makes a potent comeback in Central Florida bars (Orlando Sentinel)
Moonshine is making a comeback at liquor stores and nightspots across the country, including a pair of Orlando bars that offer the spirit as their signature drink. And makers and retailers are hoping the "bad boy" reputation sticks. "People really, really love it," said Chris Noble, the manager of downtown's Hooch and Shine nightspots. "They had that feeling in their head that it's moonshine, it's the strongest thing, it's going to make you go blind. It's that crazy-strong alcohol." The alcohol's kick appeals to Orlando resident Chance Kirkpatrick. "It'll put hair on your chest," said the 34-year-old radio intern. "It's one of those shots like ouzo [a Greek aperitif], where you've got to breathe out the fumes as soon as you drink it."