Public Trading in Private Companies (CNBC via New York Times) Looking to buy stock in Facebook or Twitter—even though those companies are privately held? Well, look no further than the secondary trading markets! It sounds exciting, doesn't it? Just remember: Your shares are illiquid. And--oh, yeah—there is the small matter of the S.E.C. inquiry into the practice itself. Good luck! (Today's Wall Street Journal also reports on the same story.)
Non-US Banks Profit from Easy Fed Credit (Financial Times) Here's a story that should come as a surprise to know one: Non-US financial firms benefited from Fed credit programs. But what may come as a bit of a shock is the scale: Non-US Banks received more than half of the lending from TAF—the Term Auction Facility —which was the largest of the crisis bailout programs. FT Reports: "Some of the world's strongest banks have profited from an emergency credit facility set up by the US Federal Reserve to shore up confidence in the global financial system, according to a Financial Times analysis of data released by the Fed." And then there is the small matter of collateral quality: "In the summer of 2008, TD [a Canadian bank] was borrowing $1bn from TAF at rates of between 2 and 2.5 per cent. For that borrowing it used the lowest quality - and hence highest yielding - collateral acceptable to the Fed. More than 80 per cent of its collateral had a triple B credit rating at a time when such bonds yielded about 7 per cent. TD could therefore have made a notional gross spread of about $4m a month during 2008."
ECB Doubles Down on Intervention (CNBC via Financial Times) "The European Central Bank increased its intervention in government bond markets last week, indicating that the euro's monetary guardian remained wary of an escalation of the eurozone debt crisis. Purchases under the ECB's securities market programme rose to €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) from €603 million in the previous week, according to figures released on Monday. The acceleration highlights how the ECB has been forced into action to prevent governments' borrowing costs spinning out of control, even though it sees the main responsibility for restoring investor confidence in Europe's 12-year-old monetary union as lying with political leaders."
Retail Sales Rise Above Forecasts (New York Times) "Americans are splurging as though it's 2007 again. Shoppers spent more money this holiday season than even before the recession, according to preliminary retail data released on Monday. After a 6 percent free fall in 2008 and a 4 percent uptick last year, retail spending rose 5.5 percent in the 50 days before Christmas, exceeding even the more optimistic forecasts, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks retail spending. The rise was seen in just about every retail category. Apparel led the way, with an increase of 11.2 percent. Jewelry was up 8.4 percent, and luxury goods like handbags and expensive department-store clothes increased 6.7 percent. There was even a slight increase in purchases of home furniture, which had four consecutive years of declining sales. The figures include in-store and online sales, and exclude autos."
US Companies Are Hiring—Overseas (Yahoo News via AP) "Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn't anyone hiring? Actually, many American companies are — just maybe not in your town. They're hiring overseas, where sales are surging and the pipeline of orders is fat. More than half of the 15,000 people that Caterpillar Inc. has hired this year were outside the U.S. UPS is also hiring at a faster clip overseas. For both companies, sales in international markets are growing at least twice as fast as domestically. The trend helps explain why unemployment remains high in the United States, edging up to 9.8 percent last month, even though companies are performing well: All but 4 percent of the top 500 U.S. corporations reported profits this year, and the stock market is close to its highest point since the 2008 financial meltdown."