Will the Fed lower rates?: It's a pretty good bet - even after last week's big cut - although now the question is whether it will be a quarter- or half-percent. That brings into play the old expectation game in which only deep cuts seem good enough for Wall Street. And even those are suspect (witness last week's uneven response to the three-quarter-point cut. For now, investors seem to be sitting tight for the Fed announcement on Wednesday. (FT)
Charges against French trader: Jérôme Kerviel has confessed to the police that he took all those crazy gambles because he just wanted to be a star. Kerviel also claims, according to a prosecutor, that he and other bank employees were involved in risky trades since 2005, which will raise more questions about the bank’s risk control systems. The Paris prosecutor asked for preliminary charges of forgery, breach of trust and fraud. Kerviel’s lawyers claims that he's being used as a smokescreen "to divert public attention from the bank's losses from subprime mortgage investments. (NYT)
Angelo blinks: Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, feeling political as well as shareholder pressure, will forefeit his $37.5-million exit package of severance pay, fees and benefits as part of the company's planned sale to Bank of America. But Mozilo won't give up retirement benefits and deferred compensation that he has already earned. That includes a pension plan and supplemental retirement plan that was valued at $24 million as of December 2006. Also, from 2004 through 2007, Mozilo sold about $414 million of Countrywide shares, obtained through stock options. (WSJ)
Informal talks continue: The Writers Guild and the media companies will be at it agan today as the strike enters its 22nd week. There continues to be a news blackout, but a few scattered reports indicate things are moving along pretty well. And CBS head Les Moonves actually broke bread on Friday with WGA leaders Patrick Verrone and David Young. (Variety)
NBC sued Dick Wolf: The network and the executive producer of the "Law & Order" shows are squabbling over a contract provision for fees Wolf receives if his shows are cancelled. Wolf contends that he'd be entitled to a two-year severance package once a "Law & Order" show is not renewed. NBC claims that interpretation would provide Wolf with an unintended windfall. (Variety)
Fessing up on Grand Avenue: The Downtown News takes a swipe at developer Related Cos. for not coming clean on the reasons for delaying the groundbreaking of its Grand Avenue project. The paper's editorial says that "a deep sense of discomfort is rippling throughout the community about the most recent postponement."
Is it that Related is not strong enough to attract financing for the project? Or is it that such a vast development, with giant plazas instead of intimate streetscapes, is no longer what the market wants? Has the Grand Avenue plan become a bad or unworkable idea? Is it an untenable idea for big government to work with big development? Or is it that the market is fickle and unpredictable and a good idea just needs to bide its time as necessary elements (okay, let's just call it money) fall into place? Manna from the heavens, perhaps?
Housing suit settled: Conquest Student Housing was accused by USC and developer Urban Partners of using intimidation and fraud against rival developers of off-campus student housing. As part of the deal, Conquest will drop all legal and regulatory actions against the Urban Partners project, known as University Gateway. In exchange, USC and Urban Partners will end their federal suit against Conquest. (LAT)