Real versus Fake: A Data Driven Approach to X-Mas Trees

CNBC's Jeff Cox Reports on Pimco's Shift into Preferred Stock (CNBC) "Bond king Bill Gross' move into preferred stocks could act as a catalyst for an investment class struggling to regain its luster after the financial system collapse. Pimco's somewhat surprising disclosure this week in a regulatory filing that it would be moving as much as 10 percent of its assets from the Pimco Total Return Fund into preferreds and convertibles is a relatively strong indictment against the bond market's prospects."

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Incoming House Infrastructure Committee Chair Sees Build America Bond 'Reincarnation' (Bloomberg) “I can almost guarantee a reiteration of the Build America Bond program,” Mica, a Florida Republican, said in an interview in Washington today. “We’re working to find a reincarnation.”

Huge $7.2 Billion Settlement in Madoff Trust Case (Wall Street Journal) "The estate of Jeffry Picower, a major investor in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, has agreed to repay $7.2 billion to victims of the fraud in a settlement with the trustee overseeing the investment firm's bankruptcy and federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the situation. The settlement is by far the largest related to the Ponzi scheme, and would quadruple the amount of money recovered for victims to date. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, called the settlement a "truly staggering sum, which was really always other people's money."

Euro Down [Again] (Reuters) "The euro declined for a second straight week against the dollar on Friday and may extend losses after a multi-notch downgrade of Ireland's credit rating affirmed the severity of the euro zone debt crisis. The euro slid to a two-week low around $1.3133, with near-term support seen at $1.3104, its 200-day moving average on electronic trading platform EBS. A break below could see the currency retest the $1.30 level and drop toward its December low of $1.2970, traders said.

The euro zone single currency's slide accelerated after Moody's Investors Service slashed Ireland's credit rating by five notches to

Baa1 with a negative outlook from Aa2 and warned further downgrades could follow if Ireland was unable to stabilize its debt situation."

"Stocks end flat as Obama prepares to sign tax bill" (Yahoo Finance via AP) "Stocks closed the day flat as investors shrugged off signs the economy is on the mend and President Barack Obama prepared to sign a tax-cut bill into law. The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose 1.1 percent in November, the fastest pace since March. According to early calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 7 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 11,491. The S&P 500 eked out a new 2010 high. It was up 1, or 0.08 percent, to close at 1,243. The Nasdaq composite was up 5.6, or 0.2 percent, to 2,642."

Real versus Fake: A Data Driven Approach to X-Mas Trees (New York Times) "When it comes to Christmas trees, Americans increasingly prefer plastic pines over the real thing. Sales of fake trees are expected to top 13 million this year, a new record, as quality improves and they get more convenient, with features like built-in lights and easy collapsibility. All told, well over 50 million artificial Christmas trees will grace living rooms and dens this season, according to the industry’s main trade group, compared to about 30 million real trees. "