HSBC media leaks are 'tip of iceberg': Whistleblower (Reuters)
Media leaks on HSBC accounts held in Switzerland "are only the tip of the iceberg," Herve Falciani, the former HSBC employee who supplied information on the bank's clients and their tax situation, told French daily Le Parisien. Falciani, who gave no details in the interview with Le Parisien, said tax authorities have had access to much more data than media including French daily Le Monde and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists did. Asked if more clients were involved than the 106,000 identified by LeMonde, Falciani said: "Of course, there are much more than the journalists had. There were millions of transactions (between banks) in the documents I gave (to the government)."
UBS Boosted By Tax Gain (WSJ)
UBS AG posted a slight gain in fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday, thanks to a significant tax benefit and a sharp reduction in the amount of money set aside by the Swiss bank to deal with its continuing legal and regulatory issues. Zurich-based UBS said net profit in the quarter rose to 963 million Swiss francs ($1.04 billion), from 917 million francs in the same period a year earlier. The bank is continuing to apply losses suffered in the wake of the financial crisis to its reported results to slash its tax liabilities and boost profit figures. For the fourth quarter, UBS said its net tax benefit was 493 million francs, higher than some analysts had anticipated and pushed the bank’s result above many estimates.
Apple Sells Two-Part Swiss Franc Bond (WSJ)
Apple Inc. has completed its debut Swiss-franc bond sale, taking advantage of the country’s record-low borrowing costs. The iPhone maker raised 1.25 billion Swiss francs ($1.35 billion) from the two-part bond sale on Tuesday, according to one of the banks running the deal. A 875 million Swiss franc bond due to mature in November 2024 will pay investors a yield of 0.281%, while a 375 million franc 15-year bond will pay a yield of 0.74%.
Investor: Peasants Will Be Out With Pitchforks if We Don't Start Sharing the Wealth (Bloomberg)
‘‘Right now we have earnings coming off of record highs as a percentage of GDP and yet you have Wall Street saying ‘don’t worry, it’s going to soar to new highs.’ Pardon me, but when did the peasants with the pitchforks come out and start rioting? Society at large has to enjoy some of the largesse, or else the pitchforks come out. So earnings as a share of GDP can’t really advance materially from current levels, or at least it’s not healthy if they do.
KFC: 'Brain' found by teen was safe to eat (UPI)
KFC said a "brain" found by a California teenager in his meal was actually a gizzard or a kidney, but the company agreed to refund the teen's $4. Manuel Cobarubies, a Stockton High School student, said he frequented his local KFC until early February, when he discovered the unidentified chicken organ in his $4 meal. "[It looked] like a brain to me. I mean at that point, red flags were kind of raised," Cobarubies told KTXL-TV. "I ended up spitting it in the trash can because I get grossed out by that." Cobarubies tweeted a picture of the object and tagged KFC in the hopes of getting an explanation and a refund, but all he received was a brief apology. KTXL-TV tweeted at KFC and contacted the corporate office Monday, and hours later Cobarubies received a call from Richard Ramos, a KFC area consultant. Ramos said the object was not a brain, but rather a gizzard or a kidney and is safe to eat. The teenager said Ramos told him he will receive his $4 refund. The consultant said cooks would be trained to ensure they are preparing the chicken correctly, but Cobarubies said he is probably through with the restaurant.
World's Biggest Oil Trader Warns Crude Prices Could Dive Again (Bloomberg)
The oil market is slightly oversupplied, making another downward move possible in the first half before supply and demand balance in the last six months of the year, Ian Taylor, chief executive officer of Vitol Group, said Tuesday. There are no signs of slowing U.S. output even as the country’s drillers idle rigs, he said.
G-20 Leaders Back Aggressive Stimulus (WSJ)
Finance leaders from the world’s largest economies endorsed on Tuesday aggressive stimulus measures taken by many of their central banks recently as vital responses necessary to boost a weak global economy. The agreement, formalized by officials from the Group of 20—or G-20—largest economies, reflects growing concerns that a fragile global economy could get stuck in a low-growth rut without decisive cash injections from central banks. “Current economic conditions require accommodative monetary policies in some countries,” the G-20 said in an official statement. “We welcome that central banks take appropriate monetary policy action.”
Goldman is jack-of-all-trades, not master of one: CEO (Reuters)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc is trying to convince investors that its business model does not need to change. On Tuesday morning, Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein gave a presentation at a financial services conference that painted the bank as one that earns steadier profits than its peers, and delivers them through sundry business lines. Those ideas run contrary to a common narrative on Wall Street about Goldman: It is good at earning money by trading and investing its own capital, but little else.
Zoo stages escape drill with keeper dressed as leopard (UPI)
A zoo in Tokyo dressed a worker in a cartoony snow leopard costume to stage an animal escape drill and test out the zoo's response. The Tama Zoological Park drill involved worker Toshiya Nomura donning the leopard suit and running wild around the zoo -- at one point staging a mock attack on a zoo worker -- before being brought down by a tranquilizer dart. Nomura played asleep for the drill and staff members ensured the "leopard" was sedated by poking it's head with a stick. "We focused on making this drill as realistic as possible. One of our staff being knocked down and injured was a part of that," said Yukata Funda, director of the Tama Zoological Park.