Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 4:40 PM ET

Diving On the Third Rail: Proposal Seeks Social Security Reductions

Posted By: Ash Bennington

The bipartisan committee working on deficit reduction announced a plan today to reduce cost-of-living increases in Social Security : But don't worry—it looks like that proposal is going nowhere fast.

Deborah Harrison | Getty Images

But there's more: Not only are there provisions for freezing Social Security cost-of-living increases, but a Bloomberg article on the same topic suggests the possibility of an increase in retirement age as well. (Breathe deeply : The retirement age increases wouldn't kick in until at least 2050.) There are also additional proposals being floated by the commission for the reduction of federal expenditure on Medicare.

How bad is the situation? And does the system really need a dramatic overhaul?

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  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 4:33 PM ET

GM Kinda-Sorta Admits It Gave UBS the Boot Because of an Unauthorized Email

Posted By: John Carney

In an SEC filing , GM has provided details about an unauthorized email sent out by a banker to institutional investors that violated its regulatory quiet period before its public offering.

General Motors Headquarters
General Motors Headquarters

The filing may shed light on a mystery that developed last week. UBS , which had previously been named as an underwriter in the IPO, was quietly dropped from this role in the deal.

DealBreaker’s Bess Levin reported at the time that “a senior high yield analyst at UBS sent out a note last night to a bunch of clients that included his musings on the valuation."

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  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 3:53 PM ET

Trustees Probably Won't be on Hook for a Put-Back Apocalypse

Posted By: John Carney

The American Bankers Association has put out a statement intended to “clarify” the legal limitations on the duties of trustees in mortgage-backed securities deals.


"Importantly, the trustee typically has no duty under the transaction documents to make investigations on its own for the purpose of detecting defaults, fraud or other breaches," the ABA says in a statement reported by HousingWire .

The statement was probably issued in reaction to a recent story in the magazine American Banker discussing how trustees have come under scrutiny as the foreclosure crisis reveals problems with the securitization process.

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  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 3:09 PM ET

Male Staffers Rank Hottest Female Collegues Via Email Chain. Company, Not So Happy.

Posted By: Cadie Thompson

Some male staffers at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ireland, one of the country's largest accountancy firms, are in hot water after circulating emails that ranked some of their female collegues based on appearance, the Independent reports :

»Read more
  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 1:20 PM ET

George W. Bush Seeks To Bolster Support for Tax Cuts—by Distancing Himself from Them

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Say what you will about the former president, at least he seems to have a sense of humor:

President Bush, right, makes remarks during the re-dedication ceremony of the Islamic Center of Washington in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2007. Center Director Dr. Abdullah Khouj is at left. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert
President Bush, right, makes remarks during the re-dedication ceremony of the Islamic Center of Washington in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2007. Center Director Dr. Abdullah Khouj is at left. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

"'First of all, it’s too bad they call them the Bush tax cuts,' the former president joked in an interview this morning with Matt Lauer on NBC’s 'Today' show. 'They might have a better chance of being extended if they were the Lauer tax cuts.'"

On that point, he may be right. But the president seems to have more than just a sense of humor—for all the criticisms of his communication skills, he seems to have the gist exactly correct: "'Most new jobs are created by small businesses,' Mr. Bush said. 'Many small businesses pay tax at the individual income tax level…therefore, if you raise the top rate, you’re taxing job creators.'

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  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 12:50 PM ET

Bill Ackman: Homes Are Cheap Now

Posted By: John Carney

Bill Ackman is firmly in the camp of John Paulson on housing, which is to say he's very bullish.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 12:49 PM ET

How To Stay Sane In a Crazy Market: Read

Posted By: Vitaliy N. Katsenelson, CFA, is Chief Investment Officer at Investment Management Associates

Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year . I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections are presented below and the remaining four will be presented next week. I hope you enjoy it.


In these crazy times, all one could ask for is sanity. Yes, sanity—a clear mind, free of noise, to with which to face the insanity that the volatile, noisy stock market thrusts upon us. We find ourselves glued to our computer screens or CNBC, waiting to find out what the Dow’s next tick is going to be. What do we get out of it? Only a headache and wasted time.

Here is my advice: read. Read books that will bring you sanity, the ones that will snap you back into the mindset of investor and out of being a nervous observer of the daily stock market melodrama. The following books are excellent choices and offer plenty of sanity and sage advice.

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  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 11:37 AM ET

Golden Cross Salvation for Commodities

Posted By: Jeff Cox

When it comes to commodities, it’s all about the Way of the Cross.


The Golden Cross, that is.

The indicator, which occurs when the 50-day moving average passes above the 200-day moving average, has been money in the bank for gold, silver, cotton, copper—you name it as the entire asset class surges to new heights.

Cotton in particular has gone parabolic since making a Golden Cross three months ago, its chart more closely resembling the trajectory of the next NASA mission to Mars than a typical structural move higher.

So while Tuesday’s margin increases at the Chicago Merc possibly stand in the way of speculators and the next leg up for commodities, it’s worth taking a look at what has happened for a Super Seven of commodities that have made Golden Crosses in recent months.

The commodities, followed by the date of their Golden Cross, and the percentage gain since:

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  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 10:57 AM ET

Goldman Fires Top Euro Block Trader For Mysterious Compliance Reasons

Posted By: Cadie Thompson

Goldman Sachs has canned the managing director of its European block trading division for "failing to make proper disclosures to the bank's compliance department," the Financial Times reports .

The Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Getty Images
The Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Alexandre Harfouche, who was promoted to managing director less than a year ago, was fired at the end of last month and it appears he hasn't picked up a new gig yet. According to the FT article, Harfouche is still listed as "inactive" with the Financial Services Authority , the UK's financial reglulator.

Harfouche has worked on some pretty notable stock trades, such as the sale of Renault's$4.2 billion stake in Volvo in October. So why exactly was Harfouche kicked to the curb?

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  Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 | 10:10 AM ET

Pence: We've Got To Undo Years Of Runaway Spending

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

The lame duck Congress goes back to "work" next week and the House GOP is getting ready for the gavel. We are learning more and more each day on what the Republicans plan to do in the 2011 Congress. But with a Democratic majority in the Senate and a President armed with a veto pen, can the GOP effectively execute their initiatives?

Later this month, Representative Mike Pence (R-IN), the Chairman of the House Republican Conference, will be explaining in detail his plan on limited government and fiscal discipline at the Detroit Economic Club.

Pence recently announced he is stepping down as chairman of the conference, sparking the rumor that he might run for President in 2012 or Governor of Indiana. In the meantime, the race for Pence's chairman seat is heating up, with Representatives Michelle Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, and Representative Jeb Hensarling, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, being talked about as potential candidates. Pence addresses all these concerns and issues with me.

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    Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.

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