Investors avidly awaiting signs that the Federal Reserve is ready to reduce its monthly stimulus may find that the news already has passed them by.» Read More
November's nonfarm payrolls report offered a little bit for everyone.
There is proof that the economy recovered in terms of the 203,000 jobs added.
There was the substantial drop in the unemployment rate that for once could not be attributed to a shrinking labor force.
And there was even more impetus for the Federal Reserve to begin easing back on its monthly stimulus program, but not by so much that it would come as a shock.
While there's still a war to be fought, the austerity advocates are pretty clearly winning the battle over how to fix the global economy.
Whether it's in the euro zone, the U.K. or the U.S., economies are regaining their footing not through infusions of direct government spending but rather through old-school belt-tightening.
George Osborne, Britain's chancellor of the Exchequer, ran something of a victory lap on Thursday, taunting critics of his austerity policies as growth forecasts improved for the coming years. Osborne promised a continued policy of fiscal responsibility as the path to recovery.
Earlier in the week, ratings agency Fitch stopped just short of gushing over Greece, labeling "remarkable" the nation's ability to adjust its fiscal policies as it reaffirmed the credit rating of a nation that not long ago looked like it could not continue to function as a euro zone member.
And in the U.S., gross domestic product growth leaped to 3.6 percent in the third quarter, despite a full year's worth of hand-wringing over what tax increases—the "fiscal cliff"—and spending cuts known as sequestration would do to the economy.
Are private equity firms about to become much less private? Or lose an easy way to make tens of millions of dollars? One of the two is likely if an anonymous industry executive's whistle-blower complaint gets traction.
Crain's New York Business has reported that a "senior" private equity insider filed a compliant with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year about the so-called transaction fees that PE firms often charge when they buy a company.
At issue is whether relatively lightly regulated private equity firms can advise on transactions just like an investment bank without registering as a broker-dealer. Such a designation would come with greater regulatory oversight, something PE funds would hate.
The whistler blower, who stands to make up to 30 percent of money recovered by the government, argues that private equity firms are violating federal securities law by awarding themselves multi-million dollar payments for sealing a deal, such as the $40 million Clayton Dubilier & Rice took in 2011 when it closed its $3.2 billion acquisition of Emergency Medical Services.
The private equity industry has been indignant in reaction, mostly because fees are often disclosed during a deal and haggled over with fund investors.
"This is a waste of time," said one private equity firm employee who asked to remain nameless. "The fee is a negotiated deal between very sophisticated parties. No one is being taken advantage of here."
The wolf really may be coming to Wall Street.
Although Hollywood has a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the "wolf," the real one may not be the trader but rather a regulator.
Indeed, 2014 could be a very interesting year on the Street.
How interesting? Let's have a look:
Someone BIG is getting steel bracelets
In 2013 the world of finance was rocked by high-profile cases against JPMorgan Chase and SAC Capital that highlighted a year of aggressive enforcement from regulators. But while the targeted firms paid billions in penalties and suffered public shame, there were precious few high-profile arrests.
Look for that to change.
During a fairly stunning presentation at the Delivering Alpha conference in July, Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and main sheriff of Wall Street these days, rebuffed the notion that anyone is beyond prosecution. His remarks at the assembly of prolific investors—presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor—seemed at the least to be a shot across the bow.
(Read more: No one is too big to jail, Wall Street cop says)
With Wall Street banks facing more than $100 billion in fines and legal costs associated with their behavior leading up to the financial crisis, it almost seems a fait accompli that criminal charges for a major player aren't far behind.
I don't know who, but I'm betting someone huge goes down.
HFT in the crosshairs
High-frequency trading has been blamed for everything from low trading volumes to the melting of the polar ice caps but has thus far gone relatively unscathed.
That changes in 2014, when all the talk about walking back the decimalization of Wall Street trading commences.
Major exchanges are getting nearer to a test program in which small-cap stocks won't trade in penny increments but rather nickels—and perhaps even dimes and quarters. Switching from fractions to pennies helped open the door to high-frequency traders and their lightning-fast algorithms that allow them to capture gains on minuscule price moves and with marginal downside risk.
(Read more: This could be a game-changer for small-cap stocks)
HFTs thrive in the world of smaller, less-liquid companies, so if the tick size is changed, that means the potential for losses escalates.
It's a game-changer.
The taper, and then the un-taper
Since the dark days of the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve and Wall Street have been best of friends. The central bank has supplied nearly $4 trillion of liquidity, which has been put to use in boosting stock prices.
That cozy relationship threatens to fray if the Fed comes through with its telegraphed message to begin reducing the pace of its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases.
The tapering moment seems as good a reason as any for the stock market to deliver its long-awaited correction.
(Read more: Poll: Advisors keeping clients on course)
If selling gets out of hand—and there's reason to believe it could, considering the market's meteoric rise during the current bull run—the tapering will become undone. Remember, the Fed promised with its last round of quantitative easing that the purchases would be "open-ended," meaning they will be decreased or increased at the Open Markets Committee's discretion.
In the end, Wall Street will get its way. It always does.
—By CNBC's Jeff Cox. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxCNBCcom.
Fiscally distressed governments across the country may have gotten a troubling blueprint this week for getting out of their respective messes.
In allowing Detroit to move ahead with its planned bankruptcy filing, federal Judge Steven Rhodes sent a message to municipal bondholders that their investments are not risk-free and in fact could suffer dramatic losses
Bond pros are worried about the implications.
"If they allow Detroit (general obligation) bondholders to be impaired significantly, this could cause in Michigan and maybe also municipalities across the country their GO bondholders to have the perception that this could happen anywhere," said Patrick Stoffel, municipal bond analyst at Wells Fargo.
"That could increase borrowing costs for municipalities and issuers," he added. "It could cause prices of GO bonds to be affected in the market, and so there are some possible wide-ranging implications from this Detroit bankruptcy."
Happy Thursday. Just counting the days down until Jobs Friday.
What happens when the Federal Reserve is holding interest rates at unnaturally low levels? All kinds of bad things. (Chris Whalen/Breitbart)
For those considering becoming a bank teller, prepare to spend time waiting in line—the welfare line. (Washington Post)
Deutsche Bank is committing about $2.3 billion to prove it's sorry that some of its employees rigged interest rates.
The German bank announced today it would pay about $983 million (725 million euros) as part of an agreement with the European Commission to resolve investigations into the submission of interbank offered rates for both the euro and yen.
Deutsche Bank also said it was investing about $1.35 billion (1 billion euros) to "elevate its systems and controls to best in class," according to an internal memo sent to employees today.
"Consistent with our ongoing review, the commission's investigation found evidence of past misconduct on the part of a small number of individuals who acted in breach of our values and beliefs," Jürgen Fitschen and Anshu Jain, co-CEOs of Deutsche Bank, wrote. "This misconduct disappoints us profoundly."
Bill Gross, co-head of the world's largest bond manager, repeated his call that interest rates would remain low for at least two more years.
"Our primary thrust has been to focus on what we are most (although not totally) confident about, that the Fed will hold policy rates stable until 2016 or beyond," Gross, co-chief investment officer of $1.97 trillion Pimco, wrote in a monthly note to clients Tuesday.
Gross made a similar pronouncement in July and has so far been right—interest rates are still near zero. At the same time, Pimco's largest mutual fund, the $247 billion Total Return Fund Class A, has struggled this year relative to other asset classes, especially stocks. It's down 3.2 percent year to date through November.
Kenneth Brody, the co-founder of $8.2 billion hedge fund firm Taconic Capital Advisors, plans to retire in January after nearly 15 years at the firm, according to a letter sent to investors Tuesday.
Brody, 70, will remain a principal and advisor to the multi-strategy and event-driven firm starting January 1. He will also remain a "significant" investor, according to the note.
Co-founder Frank Brosens will run the New York-based shop with chief investment officer Chris Delong. A spokeswoman for Taconic declined to comment.
(Read more: Hedge funds play buy-and-hold, and lose: Report)
Happy Wednesday. They're lighting the tree tonight in Rockefeller Center, and we're lighting up another Morning Six-Pack:
Memo to the rich folks: Get ready to start paying more taxes, because even Pimco's Bill Gross thinks you should. (Wall Street Journal)
The correction boat is getting a little crowded, but there's one more big Wall Street firm looking to climb aboard. (USA Today)
John Carney is a senior editor for CNBC.com, covering Wall Street and finance and running the NetNet blog.
Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.
Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.
Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of CNBC's 5pm ET show "Fast Money."
The unofficial odds are rising that the Fed will announce taper plans at its December meeting.
Three Wall Street trade groups sued the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to stop tough overseas trading guidelines they fear.
Paid in the form of assistance programs, the funds are in effect a subsidy to the banking industry, The Washington Post reported.