Hedge fund managers are fuming at new political rhetoric against them and their huge paydays.» Read More
This morning Julian Assange turned himself into authorities in London after a warrant for his arrest was issued. A judge reportedly refused to grant him bail—which means he will remain in custody until his trial.
WikiLeaks has indicated that it will continue to operate as usual, despite the arrest of its founder.
What’s far more troubling than the arrest of Assange—which arises from very weird allegations that seems to involve sexual encounters with two women—is what appears to be a covert war against WikiLeaks.
In the course of a very short timespan, WikiLeaks lost access to Amazon, Paypal, Visa and Mastercard. Its account with a Swedish bank was frozen. In short, its access to financial transactions—including donations from outside supporters—that it uses to finance its operations is being shut down.
If the next WikiLeaks target is Bank of America , the information could come from a hard-drive of a top Merrill Lynch executive.
Could the huge cache of documents WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he has obtained from a hard drive at one of America’s biggest banks reveal fraudulent lending at Countrywide Financial?
A year ago, Assange mentioned that he had five gigs of documents on Bank of America. So when he revealed that one of the next “megaleaks” from his organization would be about a big American bank, pretty much everyone concluded that he was talking about Bank of America.
Bank of America issued an poorly thought out non-denial, protesting that it had no proof of Assange’s claim to have a hard drive and that Assange hadn’t named the bank in his latest statement.
The holiday shopping season seems to be ringing in stronger this year. Although not the at pre-recession levels, consumers are opening their wallets a little bit more and November retail sales showed that strength.
Now the question is—will the consumer carry that momentum throughout the whole holiday shopping season? To get further color on luxury side of the industry I spoke with Steve Sadove, Chairman and CEO of Saks .
(Note: We're running a bit late this morning. No excuses really. Our apologies.)
Eurozone Bond Chatter Continues (Financial Times) "Proposals for common eurozone bonds have been around for as long as the euro itself. For years they made no progress. Germany understood that it would incur higher interest rates as a result of sharing bonds with Greece and other fiscal delinquents. In the end, German taxpayers would pick up the bill—an unacceptable proposition, whatever the notional attractions of European solidarity. These arguments were just as compelling in countries such as Austria, Finland and France whose bonds enjoyed top-quality status."
"Germany Reluctant to Expand Bailout Fund" (New York Times) What are the odds of the Germans going along with a pan-European bond issuance—if they're not even willing to kick more cash into the bailout kitty? (Think about it: If you aren't willing to lend your deadbeat brother-in-law the money to buy a new car, what are the odds of you cosigning on his auto loan? I'm going with very close to zero.)
"As ministers from the 16 euro-zone countries met in Brussels, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany dampened speculation that the bailout fund, worth $997 billion and now being used by Ireland, could be increased soon. 'I see no need to expand the fund right now,' Mrs. Merkel said in Berlin after talks with Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland, Bloomberg News reported."
"Gold Prices Rise on Bernanke Easing Talk" \(TheStreet.com\) Gold prices are up again. And it's the usual suspects driving them higher: "Fueling inflation sentiment, this announcement, coupled with ongoing uncertainty about the euro-zone's ability to contain its debt crisis, helped gold futures finish in positive territory." It's enough to make you wonder: Does a Fed chairman on 60 Minutes do more harm than good—no matter what he says—merely by reminding people that he may be called upon to lead the monetary component of an economic crisis intervention?
Elaine Kaufman, owner of Elaine's restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side, died last Friday afternoon at age eighty-one.
Elaine's death is the subject of a CNBC story because many of Wall Street's elite dine at her restaurant, and because it is a hub of New York City culture, and because she was my friend.
Charlie Gasparino, then a reporter for this network, introduced me to Elaine Kaufman. I met my current editor, John Carney, while standing at the bar. I also met many of my sources, often by pure chance, because finance guys always seem to be hanging around. For instance: One night I watched a famous financier itemize his dinner check—and though he was ranked in the top half of the Forbes 400, he split the bill with his dining companion, accounting for the cost of the appetizers.
On another jam-packed night, I ate dinner six inches away from a wildly bejeweled Ivana Trump. I once shared a table there with the editor-in-chief of the New York Post: He and I watched as John Travolta danced through the aisles in the dining room, with Travolta's beautiful wife beaming up at him from their table. The editor of The Post—who's seen a few things in his time—turned to me and said: "This is really something, isn't it?"
Let's say you incline toward the Ron Paul position on the Federal Reserve —that it, and other central banks across the world, require the kind of cleansing that can only be achieved through statutory abolition .
But, despite your instinctive distrust of paper currency, you believe it's possible that there may be a gold bubble (Though the article cited is from last month, the spot price of gold right now is at almost exactly its November high. But perhaps that's just a coincidence.)
So what are you to do in you search for greener?
Well, for one thing, you could search for the Next Big Asset Bubble—and get in on the ground floor. Bubbles are only bad—for you, at least—if you don't get out before they pop.
Never mind that most people don't get out before the bubbles burst—which is nearly, by definition, the nature of a price crash.
The federal government has had to halt production of new high-tech $100 bills due to a significant flaw in the production process. At the height of the problem, as much as 30 percent of the new bills were flawed.
The bills, which are the first $100 bills to be signed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, total $110 billion—or more than 10 percent of the supply of US currency.
You can insert your own joke about the Fed, government printing presses and hyper-inflation here. For now the bills are being quarantined in huge vaults in Fort Worth and Washington, DC while the government attempts to sort out the flawed bills from the usable bills.