Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Occupying Hearts and Minds: The papers took a stab at weighing the future of the Occupy Wall Street protests in the daylight of a "cleared and power washed" Zuccotti Park. The Times said "questions endure about whether…the movement might lose momentum or drift into irrelevancy" without its central piece of street theater. But some organizers "acknowledged that the crackdowns by the authorities in New York and other cities might ultimately benefit the movement, which may have become too fixated on retaining the territorial footholds." Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Another article in the Times recapped the nighttime sweep by New York police and the reaction to it. The piece also gave an account of abortive back-channel contacts between city officials and protest representatives that sound a lot like back-channel overtures the world over. Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson didn't want to talk about port-a-johns for the protestors and "Han Shan, a protest member, said he had volunteered to attend specifically to make sure his compatriots were not lured into negotiations that no one in the movement was authorized to conduct." An editorial said that, for "the mayor, the test will now be how to make certain these important protests can go forward."
Et Tu, Finland? The papers covered Europe's weak third-quarter GDP report yesterday and the simultaneous selloff in European sovereign debt that the Journal said hit "everything but German bunds." The paper said: "The chorus of economists and investors calling for Europe's central bank to intervene much more decisively in bond markets is growing." The Times said the economic growth figures were "interpreted as probably a last gasp before debt problems dragged the Continent into recession." Wall Street Journal, New York Times
The Journal devoted a separate article to the GDP outturn. Another article covered a proposal by the German economic establishment to pool sovereign debt in excess of 60% of GDP in exchange for "strict economic oversight" and "constitutional debt brakes." A third article recounted comments by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at a forum the paper hosted, where he urged more action by the European Central Bank.
An analysis piece in the Times noted that German economic growth is healthy and unemployment in the country is the lowest it has been in more than two decades. "Germany's continued prosperity has helped fuel growing anger in countries like Greece and Spain against what is increasingly viewed as harsh German domination. More and more, Germany is cast in the role of the villain."
In Wonkblog in the Post, Ezra Klein asked, "Who has the better central bank, Europe or the U.S.?"
Where's My MF'n Money? The Journal described the plight of 33,000 customers of the failed brokerage who can't access their cash. "My entire business has come to a halt," one trader told the paper, which also said that a "spokesman for the trustee said this week it is possible customers won't get all their money back, due to the apparent shortfall at MF Global."
An article in the Times said that the trustee in charge of liquidating the firm "sought permission on Tuesday to set up a claims process for customers."
New York magazine's Daily Intel blog posted a cordial invitation from former MF CEO Jon Corzine to an event the firm had scheduled to host yesterday. The special guest was to have been Alan Simpson, the former senator and fiscal responsibility wise man.
Wall Street Journal
Unnamed sources told the paper that CEO Brian Moynihan plans to deliver a "stay-the-course" message to Bank of America Corp.'s board in a three-day strategy meeting this week. But the article highlighted discontent within the company's Merrill Lynch unit. "Last November, Mr. Moynihan and certain members of his team examined whether the lender should spin off Merrill Lynch and shared that analysis with the board. …Mr. Moynihan concluded that in a spinoff, Bank of America would lose a huge profit center and no longer be able to compete with the likes of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in a multitude of offerings to various clients. For its part, Merrill would be left largely dependent on funding that could become frozen during market downturns."
Whistleblowers helping the Securities and Exchange Commission in its investigations into whether Bank of New York Mellon Corp. and State Street Corp. "overcharged clients for currency trades could provide an early test of a new U.S. program to encourage tips of possible financial wrongdoing."
"J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. plans next year to issue the first U.S. commercial mortgage-backed securities supported by defaulted loans since the 1990s, as it revives a practice that regulators used to extricate the nation from the savings & loan crisis."
"Lawmakers moved Tuesday to slash pay for employees at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, presenting the latest challenge to federal regulators overseeing the firms' operations."
Unnamed sources told the paper that "Citigroup Inc. is preparing to eliminate 900 jobs in its securities and banking division, or about 5% of the unit's world-wide staff"
An item in "Heard on the Street" argued that banks should calibrate compensation pools to profit instead of revenue. Otherwise, "employees may be getting more, and shareholders less, of what are in many cases lessened spoils."
Another item in "Heard on the Street" reviewed the challenges facing Sergio Ermotti, UBS AG's new permanent chief executive. Among them, Morgan Stanley "reckons Mr. Ermotti needs to shed up to 130 billion francs of risk-weighted assets — without further damaging the bank's already inadequate 12% return on equity."
New York Times
An article covered the Federal Housing Administration's annual report, which was published yesterday. Auditors said there is about a 50% chance the agency "will need a bailout next year if the housing market deteriorates further."
A short article covered eight hires announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, some of whom were recruited from President Obama's White House staff.
The New Yorker: In "The Financial Page," James Surowiecki challenges the theory that the more than $600 billion Americans owe in college debt represents yet another bubble. The fear is that people are spending more on education than degree-fattened paychecks will justify, but unemployment among graduates remains low and the wage gap over workers without degrees "is at an all-time high." Still, tuition appears to be growing unsustainably, and none of the options is easy: shelling out ever larger percentages of income on school, paying educators less, or somehow "radically changing our idea of what going to college is all about."
New York: Elizabeth Warren is the new Obama, according to a profile of the Massachusetts senatorial candidate and godmother of the CFPB. Reporter Jason Zengerle found in Warren the embodiment of liberalism's most pure hopes, but also found her fumbling over talking points in her new role as campaigner, and failing to cooperate with the interior monologue he imagined for her: "It's only now, after Warren has left Washington and launched her own political career, that Obama has appeared to heed her advice, taking a much more populist tone in recent months. …If Warren sees any irony in this development, she's careful not to show it."