Agnes's Feed
Jul 11, 2012
via Breakingviews

Bankruptcy loses its taboo for California’s cities

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By Agnes T. Crane and Martin Hutchinson

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Bankruptcy is no longer taboo among California’s struggling cities. San Bernardino has just become the third Golden State municipality in two weeks to fail – ending a four-year hiatus since fellow California town Vallejo began its costly and protracted court battle against creditors. So far, though, investors seem pretty sanguine.

Jul 5, 2012

BREAKINGVIEWS:Coty’s IPO should give it a leg up on Avon

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, July 5 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Coty has moved
on, at least for the time being. The fragrance company that made
an ambitious, if unsuccessful, bid for rival cosmetics group
Avon (AVP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) earlier this year is seeking a consolation prize in
the public markets. The company controlled by Germany’s Reimann
family hopes to sell $700 million in an IPO. The deal could
bolster its case for another shot at Avon.

Jul 2, 2012
via Breakingviews

Libor rigging looks like victimless crime

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By Agnes T. Crane

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Barclays’ Libor deception is bad news for the banking industry, but the artificial quotes probably didn’t significantly distort borrowing costs or the overall economy. There may have been big losers in this scandal, but they aren’t likely to be found too far afield from other banks’ trading desks.

Jun 21, 2012

Even crazy cheap debt can be cheaper still

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, June 21 (Reuters Breakingviews) – In a world of
rock-bottom rates, some corporate issuers are finding ways to
save even more. Time Warner Cable (TWC.N: Quote, Profile, Research), a U.S. pay-TV
operator with only domestic customers, just sold $1 billion of
30-year paper denominated in sterling. The textbook arbitrage
may save it 25 basis points. It shows that even crazy cheap debt
can be cheaper still.

Jun 19, 2012

Good thing Ackman sees J.C. Penney as longterm bet

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, June 19 (Reuters Breakingviews) – It’s a good
thing Bill Ackman considers J.C. Penney (JCP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) a long-term bet
- because it’s a dog right now. The sudden departure of the
highly touted president after just eight months essentially
underscores the work that lies ahead for the struggling U.S.
retailer. J.C. Penney shares tumbled another 9 percent on
Tuesday and served as a reminder of just how hard bold
turnarounds can be in the public glare.

Jun 13, 2012
via Breakingviews

Too big to fail anxiety fuels Jamie Dimon circus

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By Agnes T. Crane 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

One thing binds the politicians, pundits, protesters and investors outraged by JPMorgan’s loss of some $2 billion on dodgy trades. None of them believes that U.S. taxpayers are really off the hook for Wall Street’s future, and probable, failures. The real loser of the debate – which today saw the CEO of a well-capitalized, profitable private financial institution hauled before the Senate – is the Dodd-Frank Act.

Jun 8, 2012
via Breakingviews

California shows way through tricky pension mess

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By Agnes T. Crane

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

San Jose and San Diego want current public workers to make sacrifices for their pensions, like contributing up to 16 percent more of salaries to fund retirement schemes. The proposals, overwhelmingly backed by voters in elections this week, look to be a sensible way forward in the thorny thicket of pension reform.

Jun 6, 2012

BofA reject wins Fannie Mae booby prize

(The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions
expressed are their own.)

By Daniel Indiviglio and Agnes T. Crane

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters Breakingviews) – No
good deed goes unpunished. Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB: Quote, Profile, Research) has chosen
Timothy Mayopoulos, its general counsel, as its new chief
executive. His promotion won’t improve already tense relations
with Bank of America (BAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) – the mega-bank fired him in 2008
after he questioned mounting losses. But his integrity and
background make him a decent fit for the job.

Jun 1, 2012
via Breakingviews

Wal-Mart jamboree missing one thing – a vote count

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By Agnes T. Crane
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.Wal-Mart pulled out all the stops for its shareholder meeting on Friday. Justin Timberlake emceed at the event, which also doubled as a golden jubilee celebration. Lionel Richie had the arena-sized audience on its feet with “All Night Long” and Celine Dion closed down the party just in time for lunch. It’s a shame the mega-retailer’s organizational skills don’t extend to the basics, like providing more timely color on the controversial re-election of its board.

The 15 directors are under fire for their handling of a multi-year bribery scandal in Mexico that the New York Times brought to light in April. If the allegations prove to be true, the firm could face more serious charges as it may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Yet the only information Chairman Robson Walton gave about the outcome of the vote was that a majority of shareholders had voted to re-elect everyone on the board. But that was pretty much a foregone conclusion: the Walton family controls about half of the company’s 3.4 billion shares.

May 25, 2012

Wal-Mart shareholders can make their protest count

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are her own.)

By Agnes T. Crane

NEW YORK, May 25 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Wal-Mart (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research)
shareholders can make their votes count at next week’s annual
meeting – even if mainly as a protest. With half the votes
sewn-up by the Walton family, directors tainted by the
retailer’s Mexican bribery scandal are probably safe in their
seats. But investors disturbed by Wal-Mart’s cover-up of the
affair should make their displeasure known just the same by
targeting Chairman Robson Walton himself.