Illinois Lawmakers Fail to Act on Fixing Pension Deficits - (www.bloomberg.com) Illinois lawmakers missed another chance to restructure the worst-funded state retirement system in the nation, officially ending their 2012 session yesterday without acting on measures to shore up pensions. In failing to deal with a $97 billion unfunded liability that rises by $17 million each day, Illinois risks more downgrades from bond-rating companies, which have urged the state to stem the ballooning deficits. The inability to broker a solution mirrored a special legislative session that ended almost five months ago with nothing accomplished. “It’s confounded Illinois legislatures and governors for 70 years -- there have been 12 governors, 13 Speakers of the House and 12 presidents of the Senate that have grappled with this issue,” Democratic Governor Pat Quinn said. With the streak of frustration preserved, lawmakers begin a new session today with pledges to try again, albeit with a heightened sense of concern about a credit-rating cut.
The European Bailout That Everyone Forgot About Is Running Into Trouble – (www.businessinsider.com) After some time out of the limelight, European politicians are bringing contentious bailout negotiations back to center stage in the euro crisis plot line. In June of last year, Cyprus requested a bailout from the "troika" of eurozone creditors at the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. The small eurozone member's outsized banking system was rocked by the Greek bond swap that took place earlier in the year – Cypriot banks were big holders of Greek debt and were forced to take serious writedowns as part of the deal, which necessitated a bailout from the state. This, in turn, forced Cyprus to request aid from the troika. The deal between Cyprus and the troika still has not been consummated, and today, reports surfaced in the German press that the deal will be postponed until March, and Cypriot banks may require even more cash to be recapitalized than was previously expected. The new estimate is €11 billion, up from €9 billion.
Site lists NYC gun owners - (www.sfgate.com) In an effort destined not to offend any gun owners whatsoever, Gawker published a list of registered pistol permit holders in New York City. After the Journal News set the internet afire, publishing the home addresses of every gun owner in three suburban New York counties, Gawker responded to a comment made by conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who said “If we’re producing lists of gun permit owners, I want them for Manhattan. I want to know how many rich liberals with their body guards have gun permits.” Conveniently, Gawker’s John Cook noted that he had obtained said list from the NYPD back in 2010 for a previous story: “You’re in luck, Ann. I happened to have just such a list in my filing cabinet.
Spain’s Allure Unsullied by Bond Writedown Clauses: Euro Credit - (www.bloomberg.com) Spain’s introduction of clauses that make debt restructuring easier is doing little to temper a rally that has pushed borrowing costs to an almost 10-month low. That’s good news for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who can still afford bond-market funding after last month reasserting his intention to avoid a European Central Bank bailout. Auctions tomorrow, Spain’s first of the year, include a new 2015 note with so-called collective-action clauses, which limit investors’ rights to oppose write-downs. “The market is engaged in a hunt for yield,” said Russel Matthews, a fund manager at BlueBay Asset Management Ltd. in London, which oversees $47 billion and owns Spanish bonds. “There may be a lot of investors who are underinvested in risky assets and are afraid they are going to miss out on the rally. I don’t think CACs are making a major difference.”
Oakland museum hit by 2nd burglary - (www.sfgate.com) A burglar made off with valuable Gold Rush artifacts in the Oakland Museum of California's second break-in in less than two months, police said Tuesday. The latest theft happened at about 3:15 a.m. Monday, when at least one burglar got into the museum at 1000 Oak St. and stole a quartz and gold box dating to the Gold Rush, museum and police officials said. That object includes ornamentation depicting early California and could be valued at more than $800,000.