Jim Rogers claims Russian ‘consultant’ tried to extort him (NYP)
The globetrotting tycoon — known for his spiffy bow ties as well as his investing acumen — has accused a San Diego woman of attempted extortion in a business deal gone bad, The Post has learned. In civil court papers filed last week, Rogers alleges that Laura Alexis, “a self-professed ‘media consultant’ of Russian descent,” threatened his health and reputation as she demanded that he fork over “large sums of money.” Alexis failed to deliver on a deal to create a Web-based investing channel for Rogers — and then told him in a testy e-mail that her Russian computer programmer friend “Victor” would be “justified for whatever he will do” unless Rogers coughed up $37,000, according to the suit...In response to questions from The Post, Fink said Rogers and Alexis met “in person a grand total of three or four times over six years. The only time they met in person was when he was speaking — once in Alabama, once in Colorado and once or twice in the Big Apple.” Fink added that there was “no sexual relationship whatsoever” between Alexis and Rogers, who is happily married and living in Singapore with his wife and daughters.
S.& P. Nears Settlement With Justice Over Inflated Ratings (Dealbook)
After S.&P. mounted a two-year campaign to defeat civil fraud charges — portraying them as retaliation for cutting the credit rating of the United States — the ratings agency is now negotiating with the Justice Department to settle the case, according to people briefed on the matter. For S.&P., which is accused of awarding inflated credit ratings to mortgage investments that spurred the financial crisis, the delay in settling may prove costly. The Justice Department and more than a dozen state attorneys general are demanding that S.&P. pay more than $1 billion to settle the case, the people briefed on the matter said, a penalty large enough to wipe out the rating agency’s entire operating profit for a year.
Ethical Questions Of Investing In Pot (Dealbook)
Public pension funds and university endowments are increasingly shying away from putting their money in so-called sin industries and focusing on more “socially responsible” investments, but it’s unclear where marijuana falls on this spectrum. Is marijuana closer to the health care industry, given its benefits for certain ailments, or should it be lumped into the same category as cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, guns and, in some quarters, fossil fuels and sugary soda? [...] The nation’s biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America — thus far refuse to allow marijuana companies to set up accounts. Even smaller local banks refuse to provide services to the industry. Geoff Lewis, a partner of Mr. Thiel, who is a longtime libertarian [and invested millions of dollars in a marijuana company, said he thought the industry was misunderstood. “If I thought it was a sin industry I would not have made the investment.”
As Oil Slips Below $50, Canada Digs In for Long Haul (WSJ)
In the escalating war of attrition among top oil-producing nations, Canada’s biggest oil-sands mines have a message for the market: Don’t look to us to cut production. Long the unloved stepchild of so-called unconventional crude production, the oil sands have lured some of the world’s top energy producers to a remote corner of Northern Alberta where the heavy oil deposits are richest. There, they have plowed billions of dollars into building up a sprawling industrial complex amid the surrounding forests.
Two New York universities make list of fastest growing Sugar Baby Schools of 2015 (NYDN)
A list of the fastest growing universities where comely coeds use Sugar Daddies to afford their tuition fees has been unveiled by the world's largest Sugar Daddy dating site — showing two New York City universities among them. New York University and Columbia University were recognized by SeekingArrangement.com this week as the third and 11th fastest growing "Sugar Baby Schools" of 2015, just behind first place's University of Texas and second place's Arizona State University. Between the two Big Apple schools, 585 students seeking a financial donor enrolled with the dating site which brands itself as "where beautiful, ambitious people graduate, debt free." It boasts an average of $3,000 per month in allowances and gifts provided to students from their so-called Sugar Daddies who are independently matched by the site’s users using online profiles. "It's a dating site just like any other," Seeking Arrangement spokesperson Brook Urick described the process to the Daily News. "Both come to it knowing what they want from a relationship. They are open and honest," she said. "So when you join the site, there is a space you can list your desired allowance." "The average debt for graduate students has more than quadrupled since 1989, which is a problem since the fastest growing careers for the coming years require these degrees," said SeekingArrangement.com's CEO and Founder, Brandon Wade. "It's not only undergraduates, but those pursuing their Masters are turning to the site."
Investors Shift Bets on Fed Rate Increase (WSJ)
Many analysts and traders say officials will be loath to increase interest rates, tightening financial conditions, when the economy is showing signs of softness. Expectations that the Fed will this year raise U.S. short-term rates for the first time since 2006 have driven a sharp rally in the dollar, as investors around the globe purchase U.S. assets in the belief that returns here will rise along with interest rates. But signs of economic softness and tumbling oil prices on Monday again sent riskier assets such as stocks lower, while investors piled into ultrasafe Treasury bonds. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. note fell to 1.909%, the lowest level since May 2013.
Antonio Weiss withdraws from Treasury post consideration amid liberal backlash (Washington Times)
With liberal Democrats leading the charge against the pick, a Wall Street banker chosen by President Obama to serve in a top spot at Treasury has withdrawn from consideration, citing the “distraction” his Senate confirmation hearing would cause, White House officials said Monday. Antonio Weiss, the White House’s choice to serve as undersecretary for domestic finance, informed the president over the weekend. Mr. Weiss’s nomination sparked a fierce backlash from Mr. Obama’s own political base, progressives — led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat — who argued the former Lazard investment banker was too close to Wall Street and would have been yet another voice for the rich and powerful in Washington and at the highest levels of the Democratic administration. Instead of seeking the undersecretary for domestic finance position, Mr. Weiss will serve as counselor to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, a position that does not require Senate confirmation and one that will allow the White House to avoid a potentially embarrassing confirmation battle.
Short Sellers Bet Korean Shipyards’ Misery to Deepen (Bloomberg)
South Korean shipbuilders, last year’s biggest stock-market losers, are the most popular target for short sellers in 2015 as falling crude hurts oil-rig demand.
A Cult Following for Fed-Themed Tie Commemorating End of Stimulus (MoneyBeat)
Janet Yellen was off the Christmas list at Van Eck Global this year. The asset manager Van Eck helped the Federal Reserve chairwoman to her caricature debut on the their central bank-themed holiday ties—riding a white dove, no less. This year, the $30 billion firm cast off in a rather more literal direction. This year’s ties (and matching tote bags) show a boat called the “QE III” sailing into the sunset. The boat appears to be empty, though there are queasy waves ahead. As we reported last year, Van Eck’s ties have earned somewhat of a cult following. Prior iterations have featured “Helicopter Ben Bernanke” and a “Super Mario” version of Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank. This one, of course, is referring to the end to the third round of the Fed’s stimulus measures, called quantitative easing...As always, the ties are made by Vineyard Vines, a preppy favorite in the Northeastern financial world.
Florida Mom, 43, Facing Child Cruelty Rap For Using Teen Son As Hood Ornament (TSG)
A Florida woman is facing a child cruelty charge for allegedly using her teenage son as a hood ornament on her Mazda, police report. Tojuana Lowe, 43, was arrested Thursday morning after being spotted driving on State Road 434 near her Winter Springs home with her son “on top of the vehicle,” according to a police report. After being pulled over by a cop around 7:50 AM, Lowe claimed that her son had “jumped on her vehicle to prevent her from leaving” their residence. Lowe admitted that she drove off with the juvenile on the car, saying that, “I tried to scare him.” Lowe, pictured in the adjacent mug shot, added, “I drove off with him on the car thinking he would jump off.” Police estimate that Lowe, driving between 20 and 25 miles per hour, went about 540 yards with her child “grasping onto the hood of her vehicle.” Cops added that the state road has a “high volume of traffic flow,” and that if Lowe had gotten into an accident, her son could have been seriously injured. Lowe “admitted to me she had knowledge it was wrong for her to drive the vehicle while her son was on the top and unsecured,” a cop reported.