Being Filthy Rich Means Never Having to Say You’re SorryFINANCE
• Fortune searches Davos for financiers to express contrition over the current credit crisis but comes up empty. The closest anyone has come, the magazine notes, is the chairman and chief executive of Moody’s Corp, who said, “We and others have to retool our processes In hindsight, it’s clear to us that there were fundamental failures in key assumptions supporting our analytical models.” Quoth Fortune: “That’s probably a little too mealy-mouthed and much too late to console people who bought the mortgage-backed commercial paper to which Moody’s and its rival Standard & Poor’s gave a top-notch AAA rating — only to discover it was actually junk.” Snap! [Fortune]
• Just how big a fraud did Jérôme Kerviel, the rogue French trader, pull off? Before the bank caught him, he had taken out positions worth 50 billion euros. But some argue that he was responsible for only 1.5 billion euros in losses, and the bank’s board lost the other 3.4 billion euros unwinding his positions way too fast. Meanwhile, top executive Jean-Pierre Mustier told the Times: “I was speaking to a competitor, this competitor called me and said, ‘You are living what is a banker’s worst nightmare.’” Imagine how dramatic that must have sounded in French. [FT, NYT]
• Bonuses now in the bank, Goldman rewarded bankers for a record-setting year with a special surprise: layoffs! [Deal Journal/WSJ]
the sports section
Eli Manning Wins One for the GeeksThe main story line going into the Giants-Packers NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field revolved around Eli Manning: Had he really turned the corner during the final game of the regular season against the Patriots, or was his solid — even superlative — postseason play thus far merely a tease?Lost in all that was the fact that Manning’s opponent under center had also turned his own corner this year. After breaking the all-time interception record last year, Brett Favre led the Packers to their best season in years by finally learning how to not be a hero — that is, play within himself and resist the moon-shot interceptions that have plagued his whole career.
early and often
Heilemann: Bill Clinton Wades Into Nevada’s Democratic Muck FestThere’s no way that a post of modest length can convey the scale, depth, and texture of the weirdness that was the Nevada Democratic caucuses. But let me just say this: In the course of covering Bill Clinton for nearly two decades, I have been in his presence when he has held forth at great length and in mind-numbing detail on topics ranging from Arkansan watermelons to the political lessons of sumo wrestling. But never have his discursive skills been employed to more surreal effect than they were late Saturday night, in the wake of his wife’s 51-45 victory over Barack Obama, when he was overheard riffing on the turnout at Caesar’s Palace, the thrill of winning the Mirage, and the voter demographics at the Mandalay Bay.
Miss USA Still Likes the Nightlife, Says Miss UniverseHas disgraced-Miss-USA-gone- wild Tara Conner — who entered rehab to curb her crazy ways, including cocaine use, underage drinking, and kissing Miss Teen USA Katie Blair in public — completely given up her partying ways? Not entirely, according to her roommate, Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera. “We still party, yeah. Sometimes. We’re just trying to be careful about what we do,” she said at Wednesday night’s benefit gala for amFAR. Besides, pageant owner Donald Trump “trusts us,” Rivera says. “I’m a person who shows my real self. If I like to go party, like a young girl do, I do it. Why not? I can’t drink. I’m 19. At least not in the United States.” Rivera is from Puerto Rico, and “In Puerto Rico I can.” And she does get treated better with the sash on. “If I compare when I was in Puerto Rico as a student in college, it’s different. Very different. I get into clubs, yes.” —Jada Yuan
Update: Miss Universe and her flack call us to deny everything!
CNBC Backs Anchor Maria BartiromoMEDIA
• The story of the jet-fueled relationship between ex-Citigroup exec Todd Thompson and CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo has turned from a snowball into an avalanche. [WSJ]
• Newspapers eliminated about 1,500 positions in 2006, an improvement over 2005, when 2,500 scribes took a walk. [E&P]
• Putting scratch-and-sniff ads in the Wall Street Journal actually makes us less inclined to read a newspaper. [AdAge]