The Rise of Covered Bonds (CNBC via Financial Times) "Banks have sold a record amount of covered bonds this year, as jittery investors backed the ultra-safe forms of debt, in a trend expected to continue in 2011. Worldwide issuance of the bonds has reached $356.5 billion this year – up nearly 20 percent from 2009, according to data from Dealogic. Unlike regular securitisations, where investors have no recourse to the issuing bank, the loans backing covered bonds remain on a bank’s books and are ring-fenced, protecting bondholders even in bankruptcy. Issuance has been heavily dominated by European banks – the format was developed in 18th-century Germany — but countries elsewhere are beginning to alter laws to give investors the protection the bonds require."
PIMCO: Dollar to Remain World's Reserve Currency (Bloomberg) "The dollar will keep its reserve status in 2011 because China and Europe aren’t developed enough for their currencies to replace it, said Pacific Investment Management Co., which runs the world’s biggest bond fund. 'Rising powers such as China are not yet ready to absorb the $9 trillion in reserve assets the world holds, particularly because their bond markets are immature,' Anthony Crescenzi, a money manager at Pimco in Newport Beach, California, wrote in a report yesterday. 'Europe, amid all of its financial woes, isn’t even close to ready to take the mantle.'"
More Jail for Khodorkovsky (Atlanta Journal Constitution) "Jailed Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sentenced to six more years in prison Thursday following a trial seen as payback for his defiance of Vladimir Putin's power. Judge Viktor Danilkin sentenced Khodorkovsky to fourteen years after convicting him of stealing oil from his own company and laundering the proceeds, but the judge said the new sentence is counted from his 2003 arrest and includes his previous term in jail. Khodorkovsky is in the final year of an eight-year prison sentence."
Global Stocks Near Two Year High (Reuters) "World stocks approached their highest level since September 2008 on Thursday on optimism about global growth next year, while the dollar fell on expectations of further money printing in 2011 by the U.S. Federal Reserve. European shares bucked the rise in global equities, dipping slightly as energy stocks fell, but U.S. stock index futures pointed to a steady open on Wall Street."
Was Slow NYC Snow Removal a Budget Protest? (New York Post) "Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts—a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned. Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts."