Monday morning headlines

Stocks rebound: The Dow has shot up more than 120 points in early trading. A couple of billion-dollar-plus mergers are considered bullish signs, as are positive expectations for third-quarter earnings.

Phone recordings at Countrywide: Turns out that company employees handling mortgage deals for VIPs, including several politicians, recorded conversations with customers - and Rep. Darrell Issa, through a House committee, is trying to find out more. From the WSJ:

The committee's Republican staff investigators have spent months looking into the VIP program, and learned of the call-recording system from a former Countrywide employee in June, according to a spokesman for Mr. Issa. The Issa spokesman said that earlier this month Bank of America Corp., which purchased Countrywide in July 2008, confirmed the existence of the recording system, but said all the VIP program-related calls had been disposed of.

More Hollywood dealmaking?: Disney's planned purchase of Marvel Entertainment may not be an anomaly - there are rumblings of more M&A activity in the coming months. Among the talked-about possibilities: Vivendi selling its 20 percent stake in NBC Universal, and Disney's boutique film unit, Miramax, being in play. (NYT)

Downtown shakeup: Last week came word of developer Sonny Astani's three-phase Concerto complex filing for Chapter 11 and now the Downtown News is reporting that Portland-based South Group is scrapping plans for two more 34-story condominium towers in the area (as well as seeing its Evo tower being taken over by a lender).

D-Day for bank and thrift: California National Bank and First Federal Bank of California have been ordered to shore up their capital levels by Sept. 30, which is Wednesday. Both institutions say they'll be able to meet their deadlines, even in a tough climate for raising capital. (Business Journal)

More airline fees: The major carriers will be slapping an additional $10 charge for most flights on Nov. 29, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and Jan. 2 and Jan. 3. (FareCompare)

CA is tops on housing: From the Census Bureau's American Community Survey: California homeowners shell out $2,384 a month in mortgage costs, more than any other state in the union. West Virginia is cheapest, at $878.(OC Register)

More by Mark Lacter:
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Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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