Plunging Ruble Unsettles Russians, Poses Test for Putin (WSJ)
As Russian President Vladimir Putin has ratcheted up the conflict with the West for most of the year, the economic fallout on ordinary Russians has been limited. Suddenly, though, the plunging ruble is reawakening fears of rising prices and the kind of financial crisis Mr. Putin has sought to put behind his country. As the ruble hit a record low, falling as much as 20% against the dollar Tuesday, Moscow residents rushed to buy electronics and other big-ticket items and drained rubles from ATMs to swap them for dollars and euros—signaling a new feeling of vulnerability among Russians and a fresh challenge to their leader. From St. Petersburg to Siberia, money changers ran out of foreign currency and were raising exchange rates. Sberbank , Russia’s state savings bank, and Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest private lender, said they were experiencing a rush for dollars and euros.
A Pimco Emerging-Market Fund Hit by Russian-Debt Bet (WSJ)
The $3.3 billion Pimco Emerging Markets Bond Fund has lost 9% this month, according to Morningstar Inc., fueled by the decline in oil prices and the gathering effect on Russian economic output of U.S. sanctions.
American Apparel Executives Call for Charney’s Return (Bloomberg)
Paula Schneider, American Apparel Inc. (APP)’s incoming chief executive officer, hasn’t even started work yet and she’s already facing a group of disgruntled managers. More than 30 executives asked the board to reconsider their decision to fire former CEO and company founder Dov Charney, according to a letter obtained by Bloomberg News. Charney should be a part of the retailer’s future by helping the next CEO improve the chain because he is what “makes this thing tick,” the managers said. Charney’s loyalists bring an additional headache to a new CEO already coping with red ink and sluggish sales. The chain has racked up more than $300 million in net losses since 2010, forcing it to raise capital to make ends meet -- most recently in July. Schneider also has to contend with image problems at a company that’s been criticized for its racy advertising and sexually charged culture.
Billionaires who made and lost the most in 2014 (CNBC)
In a volatile year for the world's rich, Jack Ma saw his fortune surge to $29.2 billion from just over $10 billion, according to Wealth-X. That 175 percent increase made him the biggest financial gainer of the year for billionaires, Wealth-X said. Warren Buffett came in second place, with a gain of $13.5 billion in 2014, a 23 percent increase from last year, to push his fortune to US$72.6 billion. Bill Gates saw his net worth grow by US$10.5 billion in 2014 to reach US$83.1 billion. The biggest loser, according to Wealth-X, was Russian energy tycoon Leonid Mikhelson, whose fortune shrank to $10 billion from $17 billion.
"I spend 11,000 a year on takeout" (NYP)
A few months ago, Kris Ruby lost her credit card and briefly had to borrow her dad’s while waiting for the replacement. When her dad saw the bill, it wasn’t clothes, cabs or nightclub charges that gave him a fright — it was sushi. “Dad was like, ‘What are all these charges for Seamless?’ ” Ruby, 27, recalls. She used his card for just one week, but in that amount of time she racked up about $225 worth of sushi, superfood salads and other takeout to her Wall Street home. He promptly banned her from using his card on any future delivery purchases. “I felt like it was my guilty little pleasure and secret,” Ruby says. “I couldn’t wait to put my own card back on it so no one could see my meals.” Ordering through Seamless’ handy delivery app almost every night chomps $900 a month off Ruby’s salary as president of her own p.r. and social media agency — almost $11,000 a year, enough for 98 unlimited MetroCards or 4,720 pizza slices. “Oh, my God, this is shocking,” she says, when realizing just how much she spends. “Sometimes I look at this and I’m like, ‘I need to stop this with Seamless.’ ”
Market Turmoil Will Test the Post-Crisis Financial System (Dealbook)
The parallels with 1998 have led investors and regulators to ask if any similarly dangerous weak points exist today. And if they do, the question is whether the big banks are sturdy enough to bear the shocks. For the moment, many specialists say the system is sufficiently girded. “This doesn’t threaten the banks and other financial institutions because they are considerably stronger than they were a few years ago,” said Donald Kohn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a governor of the Federal Reserve during the 2008 financial crisis. The banks are stronger today because they rely less on borrowed money to finance their trading and lending. And the Wall Street banks are not lending as much money to hedge funds and other investors to make highly speculative bets that could be vulnerable right now. Also, the current problems overseas are largely in countries where American banks have limited activities. This puts global banks in a significantly better position than in 2011 and 2012, when the existence of the euro was threatened and investors were fleeing from Europe’s banks.
Silicon Valley Trails Big U.S. Companies in Women CEOs and Directors (Digits)
Silicon Valley tech firms have about half as many female directors and about two-thirds the number of female executive officers as America’s largest companies, according to a new study.
Low-Yield Bond World Everyone Loved to Hate Is Ending in Tears (Bloomberg)
Remember when everyone in the bond market bemoaned living in a low-volatility, low-yield world? Those days are ending. Prices are swinging more than they have on average during the past few years and there’s yield to be had if you have the stomach for risk. Junk bonds and emerging-market debt have been tumbling on concern that plummeting oil prices will impede the ability of borrowers to repay their debt. Yet many don’t seem much happier for it.
Cerberus makes £2.3bn real estate bet (FT)
Cerberus has acquired two portfolios of distressed property loans for £2.3bn as the US private equity group bets on a strengthened recovery in regional values in the UK and Irish commercial property markets. Already one of the biggest buyers of distressed real estate from banks seeking to de-risk their loan books, Cerberus agreed on Tuesday to acquire a £1.2bn portfolio of commercial property loans from National Australia Bank, and a further £1.1bn portfolio of Irish commercial real estate loans from the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Memo to Staff: Time to Lose a Few Pounds (WSJ)
The boss thinks you could stand to lose a few. Seeking to make a dent in the intractable problem of obesity—a condition affecting roughly one-third of U.S. adults and costing companies more than $73 billion a year, according to researchers from Duke University—businesses are experimenting with new measures to encourage workers to slim down. They are moving beyond healthy snacks in vending machines or discounted gym memberships and taking an aggressive, personalized approach to workers’ weight.
Wife leaves cheating husband and twin naked in busy car park (MetroUK)
Ting Su, 29, caught her husband and twin cheating on her and tracked them down to a shopping centre using a mobile phone tracker. She went to find husband Cheng, 30, who was completely naked in a car along with her sister. They both jumped out of the car with not a thread of clothing. But Ting saw her opportunity, jumped into the car and drove off, leaving the embarrassed pair where they stood. Witness You Meng, 33, said: ‘It was so funny. Loads of people were grabbing their phones and I did as well. He was banging his fist on the window and shouting at her, and she just wasn’t playing ball. Ting has filed for divorce and revealed that Cheng and her sister had been having an affair since she gave birth to twins.