BofA case: In with the old law, in a new way
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
From time to time, anyone running a business trembles when reminded of legal implications if something goes wrong, especially when forgotten laws can be brought back from the dead to make a recent case stick.
Last week's fraud verdict against Bank of America shows how prosecutors have found inventive ways to ratchet up the consequences. In effect, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan used a nearly dormant law, The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, to make a criminal case without the usual burden of establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It was the first time this innovative approach was taken all the way though to a trial. The law, passed after the S&L crisis, allows the Justice Department to sue for alleged fraud involving federally insured financial institutions, and it has a 10-year statute of limitations, double the standard period.
"This is the genie that is never going back in the bottle."—Brian Feldman of the law firm Harter Secrest & Emery
"It allows ... the government to go after all kinds of malfeasance that some people thought that maybe you couldn't go after before."—U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office brought the case against Bank of America
Irrational overseas exuberance
The next serious housing bubble in the U.S. is probably not imminent, but bubbles are clearly swelling in numerous hot markets such as Israel, Canada, Norway, Belgium, Australia, Dubai, London and Singapore. Hong Kong is now the world's most unaffordable city, with prices averaging 13 times salaries, alarming the Chinese government. The chief cause, of course, is easy money from central banks' stimulus policies, often resulting in floods of foreign buyers. Goldman Sachs expects some of these bubbles to burst in 2015, with potential ripple effects worldwide. Israel, Germany and Switzerland, for instance, have experienced 90 percent home price appreciation over the past five years, giving them a nearly 30 percent chance of suffering a 15 percent price decline over the next five years.
"When interest rates are so low, there's always a risk of too much money being allocated to assets you can borrow against."—Liam Bailey, partner at Knight Frank
You know what it's like: you gather the troops for a pep talk and a bunch of sourpusses stand there, arms folded, rolling their eyes. How do you find employees who will be happy in their work? Hire older ones. A new study finds that nine in 10 workers age 50 or older say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their job. That was true regardless of gender, race or other demographics. The higher salaries and greater job security found at the higher rungs climbed by older workers are a factor. Among young workers, 38 percent expressed deep satisfaction with their work, compared with 63 percent for those 65 and older. Experts explain that young workers are less likely to have found their true calling.
"To me, when I work, I'm happy."—Oscar Martinez, 77, a chef at Disneyland for 57 years
All eyes are on Twitter as it begins a nine-day roadshow to promote next month's IPO. In its favor is a hot, hot IPO market, as wealthy investors embrace the greater risk of buying untested stocks in a wide range of industries. So far, 169 companies have gone public this year, raising $45 billion, the highest numbers since 2008. Nine firms have raised more than $1 billion each, the most in that category in five years.
"There's a willingness to pay for growth in a slow-growth economy."—Liz Myers, JPMorgan Chase's head of global equity capital markets
The Rodney Dangerfield of retirement strategies
Conventional wisdom in the retirement market is to withdraw four-percent of retirement savings a year, but it's always coming under attack for one reason or another. You can't start retirement by withdrawing four percent, then increase the sum each year to keep up with inflation, without worrying about outliving the money—especially after the damage done by the financial crisis. New worriers point to the infinitesimal earnings on fixed-income investments many retirees count on. Some advisors propose a 3-percent rule, or even less. That means taking a mere $30,000 a year for every $1 million in assets, and pocketing less after taxes. Some advisors are even turning away clients who withdraw too much, to protect the advisor's reputation if that carefree approach leads to disaster. Others say four percent is okay if you leave room to cut back when the markets sag.
"I think [the 4-percent rule] is nonsense."—Seth Stewart, president of PlanMyBenefit and managing partner at Brookstone Financial
—By Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com