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  Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 | 2:24 PM ET

Gender pay equality improving, but...

Posted By: Carleton English
Ian Jeffery | E+ | Getty Images

If women in the 1970s and 1980s had to contend with the glass ceiling, women now must contend with the glass cliff.

Progress is progress—even if it is slow.

"Although progress towards gender diversity on [corporate boards] is slow, it is indeed moving in the right direction to a global advantage that allows for increased transparency, performance and overall effectiveness," André Chanavat, product manager, Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) at Thomson Reuters, said in a statement.

Thomson Reuters recently surveyed 4,255 public companies and found gender diversity on corporate boards is correlated to steady, positive performance. Meanwhile, boards that solely comprise men had more volatile portfolios and, on average, underperformed boards that included men and women.

Things become more difficult for women outside of the boardroom.

»Read more
  Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 | 1:05 PM ET

These senators get the most Wall St. campaign cash

Posted By: Jeff Cox

Financial firms are shelling out big cash for the mid-term Senate elections, but their favorite candidate is an unlikely one: left-leaning New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker.

An industry that has historically favored Republicans is spreading out campaign contributions this fall in an attempt to influence Washington lawmakers on the plethora of banking reforms already enacted or in the pipeline.

Securities and investment firms have given Booker about $1.88 million of his total $17.6 million in contributions this election cycle, according to records from SNL Financial and OpenSecrets.org. The industry has been the biggest group to give to the former Newark mayor, with lawyers and real estate firms the two next-highest.

Though Booker's policy stands are mostly favorable to the left, he's faced withering criticism from some of its loudest voices over his coziness with Wall Street.

»Read more
  Thursday, 23 Oct 2014 | 10:00 AM ET

'Massive' switch to new credit cards ahead

Posted By: Kayla Tausche

Consumers can expect a flurry of thick, credit-card-carrying mail as some banks attempt to get high-tech chip cards into their hands before the holidays.

The catalyst: A series of high-profile security breaches at U.S. retailers caused an acceleration of a multi-year transition to the chip-and-pin technology.

A year ago, credit card issuers thought the Europe-led move toward Europay, Mastercard and Visa (or EMV) cards—which require a unique user code rather than an anonymous swipe—would bypass the U.S., said Paul Kleinschnitz, senior vice president in the cybersecurity group at First Data.

"After a larger breach like with Home Depot," Kleinschnitz said, "they said, 'We're not going to take this trickle approach. We're going to do a massive reissuance as soon as possible.'"

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 7:48 PM ET

Citadel founder's divorce battle over property gets uglier

Posted By: Kate Kelly
Ken Griffin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Citadel
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Ken Griffin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Citadel

In the latest chapter of what is shaping up to be a particularly ugly billionaire divorce, Chicago hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin has challenged his estranged wife's claims on his private planes, real estate, and credit cards, arguing that the mother of his three children has $50 million in personal wealth herself and that he won't continue supporting Anne Dias Griffin in "whatever lifestyle she chooses."

In a 23-page filing lodged late Wednesday in a Cook County, Ill. circuit court, Ken Griffin -- whose wife on October 2 asked, among other things, for a temporary restraining order to bar him from entering her current residence – moves to dismiss that and other claims.

"Anne's petition is nothing more than a plea for this Court to require Ken to fund her affluent lifestyle, notwithstanding her own substantial wealth, and notwithstanding the premarital agreement in which she knowingly and voluntarily waived any right to spousal support or maintenance from Ken," Griffin writes in his filing. Given Dias Griffin's own means, which Griffin estimates in the filing to be "approximately $50 million or more," his wife, herself a onetime hedge-fund manager and active philanthropist, is amply capable of supporting herself, he asserts.

Attorneys for Dias Griffin could not immediately be reached for comment. A representative for Griffin declined to comment.

Griffin states in the new filing that in spite of tough allegations by Dias Griffin that he has threatened to "crush her" with their prenuptial agreement or "destroy" her in the divorce proceedings, the arguments the two have had are in fact "at most an ordinary level of discord and disagreement between two parties involved in divorce litigation." The filing goes on to cite a prior case determining that "becoming 'angry, upset, and loud' does not constitute harassment or abuse."

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 3:08 PM ET

Oh marone! Pasta prices set to spiral higher

Posted By: Jeff Cox
Buena Vista Images | Digital Vision | Getty Images

Pasta prices could be getting molto caro soon if current trends hold up.

Though hopes are that a rising U.S. dollar will help bring down commodity prices, that's not the case all the way around.

One case where that is especially prevalent is with durum wheat, the key ingredient in most pasta making. The 2014 harvest looks to be weak in 2014, putting heavy pressure on a market that has shown consistent price movement higher.

David Maloni, president of the American Restaurant Association, explained Wednesday in his daily note titled, "Pasta buyers beware":

Most wheat futures markets have tested multi-year lows during the last several weeks. But that's not the case with spot durum wheat prices as you pasta buyers are painfully aware. The spot durum-wheat market has risen 38 (think: Michael Morse) percent during the last eight weeks. The culprit? The 2014 domestic durum-wheat harvest is estimated to be down 2 (think: Alcides Escobar) percent from last year and the third-smallest since 2002. Thus ... the USDA projects the available durum wheat supply to be historically small during the next year. There may still be further upside risk to durum wheat in the next several months, especially as supplies tighten next summer.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 11:25 AM ET

Looks like Tepper's not 'too frickin' long' again

Posted By: Kate Kelly
David Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
David Tepper, founder of Appaloosa Management.

David Tepper, manager of the $20 billion hedge-fund company Appaloosa Management, has returned to his cautious stance from late spring after a period of feeling more optimistic about global markets.

Speaking late Tuesday afternoon at an investor conference sponsored by the Robin Hood charitable organization and closed to the media, Tepper gave a market outlook that was measured, if not bearish, according to someone who attended the gathering.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 11:35 AM ET

This favorite hedge fund play is wearing thin

Posted By: CNBC.com staff
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The popular hedge fund strategy of profiting off corporate slim-downs—often through the spin-off of entire company units—isn't as lucrative as it used to be.

Forty-six companies that announced a spin-off in the last year have seen their median stock prices drop 0.3 percent, The Wall Street Journal said, citing data from FactSet. Thirty days after such an announcement, the median stock had returned 1.2 percent, versus a 1.7 percent rise in the broader S&P 500 Index.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 11:03 AM ET

Larry Fink: Wall Street needs to help society

Posted By: Lawrence Delevingne
Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock Investments.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock Investments.

With Halloween nearing, Wall Street put on its best Robin Hood costume this week, raising millions of dollars to fight poverty and lamenting the rise of economic inequality.

One of the financial community's most prominent members wondered whether it was doing enough.

"The financial community has done well, but a lot of people have been left behind," Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, said at the Robin Hood Investors Conference on Tuesday in Manhattan. "We should be asking the bigger question, 'Are the investments we're making good for society?' "

Fink was one of many bold-faced investment names at the event, which raised $6 million for Robin Hood, the hedge fund-heavy charity that fights poverty in the New York City area. Attendees paid $7,500 per ticket to attend; sponsorship packages ranged from $50,000 to $500,000 and were snapped up by J.P.Morgan, JetBlue, Hyatt Hotels, Sentient Jet and others.

The wealthy crowd was pushed to keep helping the less fortunate by fellow millionaires and billionaires.

"It's a great thing and a great cause you are here for," David Tepper, who earned $3.5 billion in 2013 alone, of Appaloosa Management, told the crowd.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers told attendees that much more was needed to fight poverty than just increasing worker pay.

"Minimum wage is like using a BB gun against Stalin; you're clearly on the right side, but way, way insufficient," Summer said during his remarks.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 | 9:16 AM ET

Weird econ: How a $40B trade deficit helps US

Posted By: Jeff Cox

Here's where a $40 billion trade deficit comes in handy.

Because the U.S. has such a sharp imbalance between what it imports and exports, expected global weakness ahead likely won't have a severe effect on domestic economic growth, according to a report this week from Goldman Sachs economists.

In fact, Goldman held firm to its forecast that the U.S. will significantly outperform much of the developed and emerging world—a 3 percent rise in gross domestic product for 2015 against an expected gain of just one percent or so for Japan and the euro zone. Goldman has cut its forecast for non-U.S. growth by half a percentage point but is holding fast to its expectations for the U.S. itself in the longer term even though it recently reduced its third-quarter GDP outlook.

"At a time when domestic growth drivers are clearly picking up, we see several reasons for optimism," Goldman economists Jan Hatzius and David Mericle said in a report for clients.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 | 6:07 PM ET

Blackstone backs 'utility scale' wind, solar power

Posted By: Lawrence Delevingne
Eyematrix | Getty Images

Mega investment firm Blackstone Group announced a partnership Tuesday to develop large North American wind and solar projects.

Blackstone will team with renewable power developer Solops to create Onyx Renewable Partners. Onyx will be a new affiliate of Blackstone portfolio company Fisterra Energy and will be owned by funds managed by Blackstone on behalf of its private equity investors. Solops founder Matt Rosenblum will be Onyx's CEO.

"Onyx will expand Blackstone's and Fisterra's existing global footprint, add new renewable generation to our nation's grid and create value for all stakeholders involved," Sean Klimczak, a senior managing director who oversees Blackstone's power investments, said in a statement.

Read MorePower from ocean tides: Don't laugh, it's real

»Read more

About NetNet

  • NetNet is where you'll find the low-down and the high jinks of Wall Street. It's the place for insider stories, trader gossip, and tales of the foibles of the moneyed crowd and the culture of finance.Wall Street news and commentary served fresh all day long.

 

  • Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.

  • Lawrence Develingne

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

  • Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."

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