New York's Top Cop Scores as Credit Suisse Faces $10 Billion Mortgage Fraud Suit (Bloomberg)
Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) was ordered to face a $10 billion lawsuit by New York’s attorney general accusing the Swiss bank of fraud in the sales of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis. A New York State Supreme Court justice rejected the bank’s request to dismiss the case, a move that gives leverage to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to demand internal bank documents and force a settlement. New York demonstrated the bank may have engaged in misconduct, Justice Marcy Friedman said in a Dec. 24 decision, allowing the suit to head toward trial. In addition to forcing Zurich-based Credit Suisse to defend itself or settle, the ruling may strengthen Schneiderman’s hand in punishing other banks for bad behavior tied to the recession.
Putin orders vodka price cap amid economic crisis (Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government on Wednesday to rein in rising vodka prices, as he battles to preserve his popularity amid an aggravating economic crisis. Putin told a meeting with government officials and regional governors that expensive vodka prices encourage the production of bootleg spirits, which carry greater risks to people's health than legally produced alcohol.
Scaled-Up Banking Rescue to Push Russian Budget Into Deficit (Dealbook)
Russia’s central bank said on Friday that its bailout of Trust Bank – the first major lender to fail as a result of the sharp decline in the ruble – would cost about $2.5 billion, far more than previously anticipated, and the country’s finance minister said emergency measures to rescue the banking system would push the federal budget into deficit. The central bank had previously announced about $500 million in direct aid to Trust Bank, but on Friday it raised that figure to nearly $2 billion and said it would also provide a six-year loan of about $550 million to an “investor” bank that would step in to take control of Trust Bank. Other banks are also expected to need bailouts as a result of the recent currency crisis, which was brought about by a double whammy of lower worldwide oil prices and Western economic sanctions aimed at punishing the Kremlin for its policies in Ukraine.
Dalio's Bridgewater launches new 'optimal' hedge fund (NetNet)
Already the world's biggest hedge fund firm at $157 billion under management, the Westport, Connecticut-based money manager founded by Ray Dalio is launching its first new strategy since 1996. Dubbed "Bridgewater Optimal Portfolio," it will combine the firm's main investing styles, "Pure Alpha" and "All Weather." [...] Optimal Portfolio's main difference is the addition of actively managed bets against securities—"shorts"—to passive positions, according to a description by co-chief investment officer Bob Prince on a recent call with clients, as reported by Pensions & Investments.
The One Latin America Winner From U.S. Economic Boom: Currencies (Bloomberg)
In what has been a tumultuous 2014 for Latin American currencies, it is the quetzal that has stood out as the lone bright spot. That’s right, the quetzal -- Guatemala’s currency. As the Argentine peso sank 24 percent and the Brazilian real dropped 12 percent, the quetzal advanced 3 percent, posting its best annual rally since 2010.
Man In A Kayak Helps Nab Suspected Christmas Mail Thief (AP)
A fast-paddling good Samaritan in a kayak helped sheriff's deputies in Washington state nab a suspected Christmas mail thief. Q13 reports deputies received multiple calls on Wednesday morning that a man and a woman were going through mailboxes around the town of Sammamish (suh-MAM'-ish). While deputies were on their way, residents spotted a car filled with mail and used their cars to block it in. The suspected mail thieves ran off, and one was caught immediately. The other fled into a nearby pond with a kayak he grabbed out of a yard. A resident grabbed his own kayak, caught up to the suspect and convinced him to return to shore, where he was arrested. The sheriff's office says the suspect didn't get very far because he was using his hands to paddle.
Xbox, PlayStation Networks Attacked, Hackers Claim Credit (Bloomberg)
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Xbox Live and Sony Corp. (6758)’s PlayStation Network, Internet services that video gamers use to play online, were hit by connection failures on Christmas Day, with the hackers Lizard Squad claiming responsibility. The group, which took credit for an attack on Sony earlier this year, said on its Twitter account that it was behind the incidents. The group said it would “stop hitting” the services if users called attention to the hack by retweeting its statements.
‘The Interview’ snags $1M at box office in limited release (NYP)
The controversial Sony movie,“The Interview,” rang up nearly $1 million at the box office on Christmas Day in a very limited release — and was the No. 1-seller at the Google Play store and on YouTube, according to industry report on Friday. Total rentals from several streaming sites — including one set up by Sony Pictures Entertainment, seetheinterview.com — were not expected to be available until later Friday.
Revel casino auction winner wants a discount (AP)
The Florida developer in line to purchase the former Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City says in court filings that the auction for the property wasn't run fairly and he wants an $8 million discount. Lawyers for Glenn Straub said in a court filing Wednesday that the property should be sold for $87 million, not the $95.4 million runner-up bid his Polo North Country Club put in at auction.
Prosecutors raid LG headquarters over washing machine row with Samsung (Reuters)
Prosecutors raided the headquarters of LG Electronics on Friday as part of a probe into whether the South Korean company had damaged the washing machines of rival Samsung Electronics at retail stores in Germany, LG said. The raid comes amid an increasingly bitter rivalry between the two companies which compete in home appliances, TVs and smartphones, and ahead of the world's biggest consumer electronics show at Las Vegas in January. Samsung had asked the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office to investigate LG employees who Samsung says were seen deliberately destroying several of its premium washing machines on display at two stores in September ahead of the IFA electronics show in Berlin.
Time for Dick Costolo to go: Harvard biz prof (CNBC)
It's time for Dick Costolo to step aside and let someone else run Twitter, Harvard Business School professor Bill George told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Friday. The Twitter exec is not in the same class as Google's Larry Page and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, the former Medtronic chairman and CEO added. George noted that Twitter's user base growth has started to slow, and said Costolo has an inflexible approach. "Costolo is not a product guy. He's a consultant. He doesn't really understand product the way a Larry Page or a Mark Zuckerberg does, and so I think you need a new team at the top," he said.
Dog survives 15-story fall with hot tub landing (UPI)
A 13-year-old Boston Terrier in California is recovering from multiple fractures after he survived a 15-story fall by landing in a hot tub. Bill McCourt of Sacramento said his Boston Terrier, Sam, violated the apartment building's ban on pets in the pool area Monday when he plunged from his 15th story balcony and landed in the ground-level hot tub. Sam was discovered swimming in the hot tub by two building workers who heard the splash and one of them called Bette Plumb, McCourt's mother, who usually watches Sam while McCourt is at work. "My first thought was he must have got out and taken the stairs or the elevator or something," Plumb told the Sacramento Bee. "But there's no way he could have gotten out of the condo. All of a sudden, I knew. It hit me immediately: He fell." "It's absolutely a miracle," she said. "There's no way that dog should be alive." Veterinarians at the VCA Bradshaw Animal Hospital said Sam, who is partially blind, suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis and ribs. They said the canine, who also suffered a cut to his rear end, is expected to be fully recovered from his injuries in six to eight weeks. "His balcony days are over," McCourt said. "He's going to have to sit by the door from now on, though, if I were him, I don't think I'd be running back out there again."