Mark Gongloff is off the newsletter this morning, so today's 7.5 Things are brought to you by Jillian Berman.
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Thing One: CEOs Go To Bat For Themselves: If you ask major corporate CEOs, those guys that the American people elected to represent them just can’t be trusted represent them. Or more accurately, they just can’t be trusted to represent the interests of major corporate CEOs.
Honeywell CEO David Cote told the Wall Street Journal he’s shuttling between Capitol Hill and the White House to help move a fiscal cliff deal along because “we're not confident that our guys can govern anymore.” The obvious answer is of course to take matters into your own hands, particularly when things that are crucially important American people are on the line. Things like, say, corporate tax breaks, as The Huffington Post’s Ben Hallman reported earlier this week.
Another CEO concerned for the well-being of America, and by that we mean of his company, also urged a fiscal cliff solution Thursday. Robert Stevens, the CEO of defense contractor Lockheed Martin, told Reuters that the nation needs to move beyond this “debilitating” uncertainty. It’s particularly debilitating to him -- the defense industry is poised to face hundreds of billions in government cuts if a fiscal cliff deal isn’t reached, and it too is looking for billions in corporate tax breaks.
Meanwhile, John Boehner and Obama met Thursday as part of a “hastily” planned fiscal-cliff get-together organized by the Obama administration, The New York Times reports. Even with always not-so-affable Timothy Geithner there, the vibe wasn’t that great, as indicated by the fact that the meeting lasted less than an hour. The result was an increasing “level of pessimism” over whether Obama and lawmakers will be able to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes. Though it’s unclear who exactly is getting more pessimistic; perhaps it’s just The New York Times.
But the Republicans may be considering thinking about giving in. Boehner didn’t rule out a vote that would allow tax cuts on top earners expire, according to the NYT. That may be because the plan has the support of more than half of Americans, according to a recent Bloomberg poll. (Also in case Boehner and the Republicans have forgotten, Obama won reelection on that proposal).
Thing Two: Another Bank To Pay Another Huge Wrist Slap: Big bank malfeasance seems almost as common weird internet cat videos these days. UBS is set to pay $1 billion over allegations it manipulated the Libor benchmark rate to boost its trading profits, according to the Wall Street Journal. UBS would be the second and only bank so far get a wrist slap for rigging the measure that determines everything from rate which banks exchange money with one another to the rate you get on a home loan. Still, the fine would be double that of Barclays, the only bank to pay up so far, at $450 million.
Earlier this week, British authorities arrested three peons allegedly involved in the Libor scandal, one of whom is presumed to be Thomas Hayes, a 33-year-old ex-UBS trader, the New York Times reports. Hayes will likely be an important figure in the case against UBS. The bank hired him reportedly after Citigroup had already fired him for trying to influence rates.
Thing Three: Feds May Ruin States' Recovery: Good news! Hard-hit state governments may finally be recovering from the recession. Bad news! Washington’s obsession with curbing the federal deficit could ruin that progress, according to The New York Times. State revenues are expected to return to pre-recession levels this year. But the looming threat that Washington could chip away at states’ federal aid, in an effort to pare down the deficit, could hurt states’ slowly recovering economies.
Thing Four: Nike Threatens To Take Its Talents Elsewhere: Speaking of putting local governments at risk: Today, Oregon lawmakers will meet on behalf of one very important resident: Nike. The company is asking that, in exchange for it expanding in the state, Oregon will promise not to raise Nike’s tax burden for the next 40 years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Nike’s behavior is typical of major corporations, and states often acquiesce to their demands. Local governments give companies more than $80 billion in subsidies to lure them, according to The New York Times. The thing is, the giveaways may actually do little to boost a region’s economy and in some cases may even hurt a locality, according to experts.
Thing Five: Walmart To Save The Twinkie? The Twinkie may have found a new, surprising savior: Walmart. The retail giant as well as the Kroger grocery chain are among the about two dozen bidders looking to buy Hostess’ most iconic brands, Bloomberg reports. Hostess got approval from a judge last month to wind down its business and lay off more than 18,000 workers after the company failed to reach an agreement with a striking union.
Thing Six: Poor European Bankers: It’s bonus season on Wall Street, but for their colleagues in Europe, the news may not be as great as usual. The EU is set to cap bankers’ bonuses at two times their fixed salary, the Financial Times reports. It’s unclear if the deal will be approved, but if it goes through it would be one of the most intense crackdowns on banker pay since the financial crisis. To most of us normals, it may seem like common sense to cap a bonus at double base salary. But for bankers, who often view the bonus as a part of the salary they’re entitled to, it may amount to treason.
Thing Seven: Walmart Workers On The Brink: Walmart workers, a large and vulnerable group, may be at risk of losing their health care if many state governors follow through with their plans to oppose Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, The Huffington Post's Alice Hines reports. Newly hired employees working less than 30 hours a week will be excluded from the company's health care coverage. And if states end up opposing the Medicaid expansion Walmart workers may not get government health care and will fall through the cracks.
Thing Seven And A Half: RIP GW: On this day in 1799 our first ever fearless leader George Washington died of acute laryngitis at the age of at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. Henry Lee famously eulogized the 67-year-old saying “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
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Calendar Du Jour:
8:30 a.m. ET: Consumer Price Index for November
9:15 a.m. ET: Industrial Production for November
Heard On The Tweets:
I didn't know Taylor Swift and Ben Bernanke shared the same birthday. I would have guessed he's much older. @thestalwart
— Eddy Elfenbein (@EddyElfenbein) December 13, 2012
IMAGINE HOW TERRIFYING IT WOULD BE IF SOMEONE CAME UP TO YOU SPEAKING IN ALL CAPS
— Sarah Thyre (@SarahThyre) December 13, 2012
Having long hair is like trying to wear the same dry-clean only cashmere sweater every day, on my head.
— Nic Cage Match (@NicCageMatch) December 13, 2012
Smoking is probably my favorite way to passive aggressively kill yourself in front of your friends and family.
— Dan Duvall (@lazerdoov) December 13, 2012
"boys will be boys!" I have deduced from the fact that every boy I have seen so far has been a boy
— an strange man(@goujoncity) December 13, 2012
-- Tweets and calendar rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.