Banks Cuts As Mortgage Boom Ends (WSJ)
A sharp slowdown in mortgage refinancing is forcing banks to cut jobs, fight harder for a smaller pool of home-purchase loans and employ new tactics to drum up business. The end of a three-decade period of falling mortgage rates has slammed the brakes on a huge wave of refinancing by U.S. households. The drop-off has deprived lenders of a key source of income at a time when the growth in loans for home purchases remains weak.
Pimco's Gross Bets on Bonds in 2014 (WSJ)
Mr. Gross, who is co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., said in his monthly investment commentary on the company's website that he expects total return of 3% to 4% for bonds this year, reflecting interest payments and price appreciation. Pimco Total Return, the world's largest bond fund with $237 billion under management, posted a negative return of 1.92% last year, its worst performance since 1994.
Millionaires now have the majority in Congress (CNBC)
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a majority—268 of the 534 members of Congress—had an average net worth in 2012 of $1 million or more, marking the first time millionaires held a majority in Congress. The previous year, only 257 members had millionaire status.
The most (and least) stressful jobs in banking and finance (eFinancial)
1. Investment Banker: The runaway choice for the most stressful job on Wall Street and in all of financial services, finishing in the top three of every ballot. The main reason is that investment bankers are confronted with the two main triggers for career stress: the difficulty of the work coupled with the sheer amount of it, particularly for associates and analysts. “The life of a junior banker is one of the last forms of legalized slavery,” said Roy Cohen, a career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. “It is a gruelling survival of the fittest existence defined by all-nighters, no time to eat well or to exercise, and compensation that has remained flat for a number of years.” Within investment banking, the highest levels of stress exist in M&A, said Richard Lipstein, managing director at Wall Street search firm Gilbert Tweed International. “The most stressful job is one where revenue takes longest to be generated,” he said. “In M&A, you need to know the people, get the meeting, bring in the business, convince them to sell and then go out and get it done.” 11. Accounting: Finishing last on every ballot, accounting is “virtually stress-free as long as you like routine and are willing to work long hours on a seasonal basis,” said Cohen. There’s also minimal client-facing and you’re never on an island. “There is always someone in the assembly line with you,” according to Mogilner. Not much else to say.
At least 50 scalded by boiling-to-frozen water trick (LA Times)
Over Monday and Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times counted at least 50 people on social media who reported burning themselves or their friends after trying to turn boiling water into snow. There were also several reports of people going to the hospital to receive treatment for burns. "I'm working in the ER today &this woman just got 2nd degree burns from trying to freeze boiling water into the air!" one user tweeted. Here are a few other cases culled from Twitter: "Blayne and I just did the boiling water thing and I accidentally threw all the BOILING water against the wind and burnt myself." "So I did the thing where you make snow and not all the boiling water froze and now my head is burned."
"I did that boiling water thing except I threw it weird so it came back and burnt my hand." "So I did that boiling water snow thing but the wind whipped it back at me and my hands are STILL burning lol I can't hold anything."
Jury of 7 Women and 5 Men Chosen for Martoma Trial (Dealbook)
The final alternate jurors were chosen late in the afternoon in Federal District Court in Manhattan, capping what was a long and arduous third day of jury selection, and paving the way for opening statements to begin on Friday...Some of the jurors have training in law and finance. One juror said she was an insurance underwriter for the American International Group, while another has a law degree and works at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Another juror is an employment and labor lawyer who said his firm’s work included internal investigations for corporations related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Apollo raises largest PE fund since financial crisis (Reuters)
Apollo Global Management LLC said on Thursday it had completed fundraising for its latest flagship global private equity fund, amassing $17.5 billion from investors, the most any such fund has raised since the financial crisis. In their hunt for yield amid persistently low interest rates, investors who fell out of love with private equity and its debt-fueled excesses in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis are now increasing allocations to the asset class.
Goldman Sachs Denies Singapore Stock Dump, Countersues (Bloomberg)
Quah Su Ling sued Goldman Sachs International in London, accusing it of breach of contract for selling her shares in Blumont Group Ltd., Asiasons Capital Ltd. and LionGold Corp. and depressing their prices. Goldman Sachs International countersued for $12.3 million it says it’s still owed. Goldman Sachs International sold the shares in an “orderly and measured manner -- consistent with industry practice and accepted standards -- over the course of three weeks,” the bank said in court papers filed in London and made available this week. The lawsuit is Quah’s “attempt to delay or avoid repayment of debt.”
Man crashes into Conn. gas station, steals banana (MFNY)
Police in Connecticut say they're looking for a man who smashed his vehicle into a gas station in Newington, swiped a banana from a shelf and ate it before leaving early Wednesday morning. Nothing else was taken. The store's surveillance video shows a Ford Freestyle with Connecticut license plates backing repeatedly into the store and breaking the glass doors, which set off the burglar alarm at about 2 a.m. The man was gone before police arrived.